1996 December

2nd The Cubs sign SS Shawon Dunston bringing him back to Chicago.

The Astros sign free agent P Sid Fernandez.

3rd The Marlins sign free agent OF Jim Eisenreich to a 2-year contract.

5th Two days after signing C Joe Girardi, the Yankees send back-up catcher Jim Leyritz to the Angels in exchange for minor leaguers Ryan Kane and Jeremy Blevins.  Leyritz, the Yankee with the longest tenure—5 years, 126 days—was vulnerable because of his $1.75 million yearly contract.

Following his most productive season with the Oakland A’s, Terry Steinbach elects to take less money and return home. Like Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor, and Jack Morris before him, the Minnesota veteran signs with Twins.

6th The Seattle Mariner acquire righty Scott Sanders, (9–5, 3.38 ERA) from the Padres for left-handed Sterling Hitchcock. Hitchcock was the ace of the Mariner staff after Randy Johnson went down with back surgery. He finished with a 13–9 record, but had a 5.35 ERA.

8th The Orioles sign free agent P Jimmy Key to a 2-year contract.

The Dodgers sign free agent 3B Todd Zeile to a 3-year contract.

9th The Rockies sign free agent C Kirt Manwaring to a 2-year contract.

The Marlins sign free agent P Alex Fernandez to a 5-year contract.

The Blue Jays sign free agent C Benito Santiago to a 2-year contract.

10th  The Tigers make their biggest trade since 1957, sending 4 players to Houston in exchange for 5 Astros. Detroit C Brad Ausmus, P Jose Lima, lefties C.J. Nitkowski and Trevor Miller, and IF Daryle Ward go to the NL for starters Brian Hunter and Orlando Miller, Doug Brocail and Todd Jones, and a player to come later. Brocail, also involved in the 1994 12-player swap between San Diego and Houston, will be Detroit’s Opening Day pitcher in April.

Montreal reliever Mel Rojas signs with the Cubs for a three-year $13.75 million contract. With Ugueth Urbina waiting in the wings, the Expos found the expensive Rojas expendable.

The Reds sign free agent P Kent Mercker.

The Marlins sign free agent veteran Dennis Cook to a 2-year contract.

11th The White Sox sign free agent P Jaime Navarro to a 4-year contract.

The Yankees sign free agent P Mike Stanton to a 3-year contract.

The Phillies sign free agent P Mark Portugal to a 2-year contract.

12th The Orioles sign free agent SS Mike Bordick to a 3-year contract.

The Marlins sign free agent OF Moises Alou to a 5-year contract worth $25 million.

13th The Cubs sign free agent P Kevin Tapani to a 3-year contract.

The Indians sign free agent P Mike Jackson to a 2-year contract.

The Blue Jays sign free agent P Roger Clemens (10-13) to a 3-year contract worth $24.75 million.  The Red Sox’ last minute offer falls short and The Rockets flirtation with the Yankees comes to naught.  The Sox are successful in retaining Tim Naehring, who was minutes away from signing with Cleveland.

The Pirates trade IF Jeff King and SS Jay Bell to the Royals for 3B Joe Randa and pitchers Jeff Granger, Jeff Martin, and Jeff Wallace.

14th  The Red Sox sign veteran OF Shane Mack to a one-year deal.  Mack played the last 2 seasons in Japan.

16th The Tigers trade 2B Mark Lewis to the Giants for 1B Jesse Ibarra.

The Rangers sign free agent closer John Wetteland to a 4-year contract worth $23 million. Wetteland had 43 saves for the Yankees this year.

17th  David Wells signs a 3-year $13.5 million contract with the Yankees.

The Red Sox sign P Chris Hammond, 5–8 last year with the Marlins.

18th Red Sox veteran Mike Greenwell signs a one-year contract to play for the Hanshin Tigers. The Sox had designated him for assignment on October 15, so his leaving Boston after 10 years was inevitable.

Eddie Murray takes his Hall of Fame bat to the Anaheim Angels, agreeing to a one-year contract.

19th The Orioles sign free agent OF Eric Davis.

The Pirates sign free agent vet SS Kevin Elster.

20th  The Blue Jays send 1B John Olerud and his $5 million contract to the Mets for pitcher Robert Person. The move leaves 1B open for Joe Carter.