In hurry, a trading flurry After draft, Martinez, White, Fryman dealt

November 19, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX -- The expansion draft was little more than a warm-up act. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks delivered few surprises during the seven-hour draft marathon, but the evening ended in a trading frenzy involving 17 of the 30 major-league clubs.

The two expansion clubs each made a series of deals involving players they chose during the draft -- and significantly upgraded their first-year rosters -- but it didn't stop there.

The expansion process included a weeklong trading embargo that was lifted after the final selection in last night's draft, spurring a rapid-fire series of announcements that included the long-anticipated deal that sent National League Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez from the Montreal Expos to the Boston Red Sox. And he would not be the only big-name player to change uniforms: The Detroit Tigers sent third baseman Travis Fryman to the Diamondbacks in exchange for draftees Gabe Alvarez, Joe Randa and pitcher Matt Drews. Drews had been selected from the Tigers' roster earlier in the evening.

The Devil Rays acquired first baseman Fred McGriff from the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named and signed free-agent reliever Roberto Hernandez.

The Florida Marlins traded center fielder Devon White to the Diamondbacks for left-handed pitcher Jesus Martinez, the club's second pick in the third round.

The San Francisco Giants acquired closer Robb Nen from the Marlins for right-handers Mike Villano, Joe Fontenot and Mike Pageler.

The Colorado Rockies got All-Star second baseman Mike Lansing from the Expos for three minor-league players.

Those were just the highlights. There were several other free-agent signings and lesser deals completed on one of the most active days of baseball business in the history of the sport.

The Martinez deal probably was the most anticipated. The Red Sox had been under fire throughout the 1997 season for allowing future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens to become a free agent and sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, they have acquired a pitcher truly capable of replacing him.

"The Red Sox are very happy to be acquiring Pedro Martinez," Boston general manager Dan Duquette said. "He's one of the premier pitchers in the industry, and he gives us an ace for our staff. I think it sends a good message for our fans that we'd like to put together a winning team at Fenway Park, and I also think it sends a message to our players. Pedro is the kind of player that can take the responsibility for a lot of things and make the rest of the team a lot better."

The Expos sent a very different message to their fans and the rest of Major League Baseball. They downsized their roster again, unloading their highly paid players in exchange for quality prospects and proving that the sport's new revenue-sharing program hasn't done much to encourage small-market clubs to stay competitive.

The evening was like a miniature version of the old winter meetings, which were discontinued four years ago because of lack of activity. Baseball executives from every major-league club were gathered at the Phoenix Civic Plaza, working out deals and meeting with player representatives.

Though the draft did not produce a lot of drama, it clearly was the catalyst for the flurry of activity. The Diamondbacks made four deals in all. The Devil Rays made three trades and announced that Hernandez had signed a four-year deal worth a reported $22.5 million with an option for a fifth season.

"It's been the most exciting week I can remember," said Devil Rays general manager Chuck Lamar, "to sit down with the 28 other general managers for the first time and talk trades and we had some scenario with every team during the week, or almost every team.

"And then it was just a matter of trying to activate those trades. I thought we'd make four or five trades tonight, and that's just about how it went."

The Devil Rays traded away four of their draft choices to make three deals. The Diamondbacks also gave up four draftees in three trades.

Though there was a lot of negotiations going on in the days leading up to the draft, Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said that the trade activity built to a crescendo last night.

"There were not a lot of deals in place," he said. "There was a tremendous amount of conversation starting early this morning and continuing on until about three picks from the end of the draft. Things were coming together and falling apart and being considered, and that's what's great.

"I think this is the kind of activity that we used to see at the old winter meetings that the fans love."

There could be more deals to come. Many of the front-office officials who traveled to Phoenix for the general managers' meetings last week and the draft last night are planning on remaining for one more day to set their 40-man rosters by tomorrow's deadline and take care of any unfinished business.

Pub Date: 11/19/97

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