Astros let Clemens go on busy day

December 08, 2005

Roger Clemens won't be pitching for the Houston Astros on Opening Day, but Trevor Hoffman will be back in the San Diego Padres" bullpen.

The National League champion Astros refused to offer salary arbitration to the seven-time Cy Young Award winner yesterday, which means they can't re-sign him until May 1. The 43-year-old right-hander hasn't decided whether he will retire or pitch next season, and the decision by his hometown team could lead to other clubs trying to sign him.

The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, two of his former clubs, might be interested in signing Clemens, who made $18 million last season. The Rocket was 13-8 and led the major leagues with a 1.87 ERA.

"I'm sure there's a lot of teams the would like to have Roger pitching for them next year." Boston special assistant Craig Shipley said.

Said Clemens" agent, Randy Hendricks: "If anybody calls, we"ll listen."

With yesterday's deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their former players who became free agents, players and clubs were forced to make decisions. Trevor Hoffman, who had been negotiating with Cleveland and San Diego, decided to accept a two-year, $13.5 million deal with the Padres. An option year in 2008 could raise the value of the closer's deal to $19 million.

Longtime Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams faced the deadline, too. New York would like him back in a reserve role.

"We"re going to try to exhaust the situation with the Yankees before we move forward." agent Scott Boras said.

Boras also represents Johnny Damon. The Red Sox would like their center fielder back, but Bo ras is seeking a seven-year contract around $84 million.

The Chicago White Sox refused to offer arbitration to two-time American League Most Valuable Player Frank Thomas, who was injured the past two seasons.

There were six trades on the third day of the winter meetings, the most notable involving the payroll-paring Florida Marlins. Center fielder Juan Pierre was the latest to join the migration, going to the Chicago Cubs for right-hander Sergio Mitre and two minor league pitchers.

Pierre followed Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Guillermo Mota, Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo and Paul Lo Duca out of Florida, which has cut about $45 million of payroll since the end of the season.

Atlanta sent failed closer Dan Kolb back from whence he came. The Braves, who acquired him from Milwaukee during last year's winter meetings, dealt him to the Brewers for pitcher Wes Obermueller. In another deal, Braves catcher Johnny Estrada went to Arizona for pitchers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal.

San Diego dealt third baseman Sean Burroughs to Tampa Bay for pitcher Dewon Brazelton, and second baseman Mark Loretta to Boston for catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Pittsburgh traded its second left-handed starting pitcher in two days, sending Mark Redman to Kansas City for pitcher Jonah Bayliss and a player to be named.

Among free agents, shortstop Rafael Furcal and the Los Angeles Dodgers finalized their three- year, $39 million contract.

In re-signings, the Mariners kept left-hander Jamie Moyer with a one-year, $5.5 million contract, and the Indians gave closer Bob Wickman a one-year, $5 million deal.

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