Red Sox, Foulke reach 3-year deal

Braves trade for Drew

Dodgers add Encarnacion

Cameron set to join Mets

Baseball

December 14, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS - In their continuing search for a reliable closer, the Boston Red Sox have reeled in the American League's top late-inning specialist from last season.

Free agent Keith Foulke has chosen the Red Sox over his former team, the Oakland Athletics, signing a three-year deal, with an option for a fourth, that guarantees him $24 million. He completed the contract after taking a physical.

"I want to be a winner before I go out," he said.

Foulke, 31, represents a prize catch for the Red Sox - one who might enable the team to overtake the New York Yankees in the American League East and make it that much harder for the Orioles to move up in the standings. They've already traded for starter Curt Schilling, and still might acquire shortstop Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers.

Foulke was an All-Star in 2003 and won the AL's Fireman of the Year Award after going 9-1 with 43 saves and a 2.08 ERA. He spent one season in Oakland after being obtained from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for reliever Billy Koch.

The Red Sox used a committee of closers without much success, and perhaps having Foulke in their bullpen would have given former manager Grady Little more confidence to remove a tiring Pedro Martinez from Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

The Yankees rallied to win, Little was fired, and Boston's desire for a quality closer intensified.

Scott Williamson became more trusted in that role during the playoffs, and the Red Sox must decide whether to tender him a contract by Saturday and place him in a setup role. They also could move Byung-Hyun Kim into the rotation if he's offered a contract.

"Good teams have deep bullpens," said Terry Francona, who replaced Little as manager.

If the Rangers end up trading Rodriguez, it probably won't occur during these meetings.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he and Red Sox owner John W. Henry have agreed to put off talks through the weekend.

The meetings began with much anticipation of a blockbuster trade involving Rodriguez, the AL's Most Valuable Player, and Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez. The deal would have led the Red Sox to move shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, perhaps to the Anaheim Angels or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Red Sox apparently are trying again to sign Garciaparra to a multi-year extension, which would eliminate the desire to acquire Rodriguez and his landmark contract.

The meetings kicked off yesterday with the Atlanta Braves acquiring outfielder J.D. Drew and catcher/outfielder Eli Marrero from the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Jason Marquis, Ray King and Adam Wainwright, completing a deal that had been in the works for several weeks.

Drew, 28, batted .289 with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs in 100 games last season. Marrero, 30, hit .224 in 41 games, missing much of the year with an ankle injury.

Baseball America ranked Wainwright, 22, as Atlanta's top pitching prospect this year. Marquis, 25, is 14-15 with a 4.45 ERA in 96 career games. King, a left-handed reliever, made 80 appearances this year, tied for third in the National League, and was 3-4 with a 3.51 ERA.

In other news:

The Florida Marlins traded right fielder Juan Encarnacion, 27, who hit .270 with 19 home runs and 94 RBIs, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named.

Encarnacion had a team-high 37 doubles and stole 19 bases.

The New York Mets agreed to a three-year, $19 million deal with free-agent center fielder Mike Cameron and will bring him in for a physical tomorrow.

Cameron, 30, who hit .253 with 18 home runs with 76 RBIs and 17 stolen bases with the Seattle Mariners last season, was an All-Star in 2001, when he won the Gold Glove Award. He also had been courted by the Athletics and San Diego Padres.

The Detroit Tigers agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract with free agent Rondell White, a source told the Associated Press.

The outfielder, 31, played in 2003 for the Yankees, Padres and Kansas City Royals.

Roger Clemens left open the possibility of postponing his retirement and joining former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte with the Houston Astros.

Asked how much wiggle room he had in his retirement plans, Clemens said, "There's a percent."

Clemens, 40, wouldn't specify that percentage, but it's clear the 310-game winner is intrigued about the possibility of joining Pettitte as a hometown player with the Astros. And Clemens acknowledged that Pettitte is lobbying him to do so.

The Yankees completed their deal for Kevin Brown, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers Jeff Weaver, minor league right-hander Yhency Brazoban, a player to be named and $2.6 million.

Brown, 38, who lives in Macon, Ga., said his motivation was the same one that led Pettitte to leave the Yankees.

"I'm going to be closer to home, get a chance to see my kids more," said Brown, who was 14-9 with a 2.39 ERA last season.

Former Oriole Tony Batista might be returning to Canada. Batista, an ex-Toronto Blue Jay, is drawing serious interest from the Montreal Expos, who used five third basemen last season. He earned $6 million in the final year of his contract with the Orioles while batting .235 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs.

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