MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The White Rat continues to cut a wide swath through baseball's winter meetings, which have become the staging area for another California Angels rebuilding project.
Senior vice president Whitey Herzog completed two more trades yesterday and signed left-handed starter Chuck Finley to a four-year, $18.5 million contract a year before he would have become eligible for free agency.
The deals were not quite as earth-shattering. Former Baltimore Oriole Dave Gallagher went to the New York Mets for outfielder Hubie Brooks, and pitcher Chuck Crim was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for two young pitchers. But the Angels have dominated the otherwise quiet meetings, and Herzog has re-established himself as one of the game's most decisive excecutives. He has made three trades and completed a major free-agent signing, and he said he isn't done yet.
"We hope to get Kirk McCaskill signed in the next day or two," Herzog said. "That would give us four good starters and [Bryan] Harvey. Hopefully, we'll be able to score some runs for them."
The Angels have made headlines since they arrived in Florida. They acquired outfielder Von Hayes from the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday and lost free-agent first baseman Wally Joyner to the Kansas City Royals on Monday.
Herzog is gambling on two players -- Brooks and Hayes -- who are coming off injury-marred 1991 seasons. But the Angels feel they have to make major changes to get back in contention in the American League West.
"We're taking some gambles," Angels manager Buck Rodgers said, "but I think we have to take some. We're trying to patch some things together and let some kids play."
Gallagher has changed teams three times in the past two years and has been traded at the meetings two years in a row. The Orioles claimed him on release waivers from the Chicago White Sox during the 1990 season and sent him to California last December for minor-leaguers David Martinez and Mike Hook. This time, he drew a bigger price to go to New York, where he was reunited with former White Sox manager Jeff Torborg.
"I like Dave Gallagher," said Torborg, who made the decision to release him in 1990. "What we were looking for is a guy who could play a role. The Mets had so much respect for Hubie they didn't want him to spend his option year on the bench."
Brooks would have been the odd man out in a Mets outfield that includes Vince Coleman, newly acquired Bobby Bonilla, Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds. Brooks figures to get 400 or more at-bats as a designated hitter and reserve outfielder.
The Angels also improved their bullpen depth with the acquisition of Crim, who was 8-5 with three saves and a 4.63 ERA in 66 games with the Brewers. In exchange, Milwaukee got prospects Mike Fetters and Glenn Clark.
Indians, Astros complete deal
The Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros completed a four-player trade yesterday, the Indians sending catcher Ed Taubensee and pitcher Willie Blair to the Astros for outfielder Kenny Lofton and infielder Dave Rohde.
Lofton, 25, batted .308 for the Class AAA Tucson Toros and led the Pacific Coast League in at-bats (545), hits (168) and triples (17). Rohde also played with the Toros last year and has a .338 career average at the Class AAA level.
Taubensee and Blair both spent brief periods in the major leagues with the Indians last year. Taubensee appeared in 26 games and batted .242. Blair was 2-3 with a 6.75 ERA in 11 major-league games.
Duncan signs with Phillies
Free-agent infielder Mariano Duncan has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Phillies that could pay him as much as $6.2 million.
Duncan batted .258 with 12 homers and 40 RBI for the Cincinnati Reds last year.
The first two years of his new contract will be guaranteed, with the Phillies retaining an option on the 1994 season.
Canseco deal shot down
Agent Dennis Gilbert and Oakland Athletics officials laughed off a published report in New York that the A's and Yankees are discussing a trade involving outfielder Jose Canseco.
Gilbert and associate Jeff Borris said yesterday that Canseco has not asked the A's to trade him, and Alderson indicated that no serious trade talks have taken place. But Yankees general manager Gene Michael did confirm that he inquired about Canseco.
Orioles not seeking Tartabull
Gilbert, who is preparing to visit several cities with client Danny Tartabull, said the Baltimore Orioles are not one of the teams interested.
The Orioles had discussed the possibility of signing Tartabull before free-agent bidding began in November, but apparently determined that the price would be prohibitive.