2ndIn the biggest free-agent signing this year, the Phillies sign Indians 1B Jim Thome to a 6-year contract.
The Cubs sign free agent P Mike Remlinger to a three-year $10 million contract.
In support of a national strike, the Venezuelan professional league suspends its games. Many of the 8 teams in the league belong to news media owners opposed to President Hugo Chavez. When the strike continues, the league will cancel its season on January 13.
3rdThe Athletics send P Billy Koch and two minor leaguers to the White Sox in exchange for P Keith Foulke, C Mark Johnson, minor league P Joe Valentine, and cash.
The Dodgers trade 1B Eric Karros, 2B Mark Grudzielanek and cash to the Cubs. In return, they get C Randy Hundley and OF Chad Hermansen.
6th In a sinister move, the Yankees offer the same two-year $4.6 million contract to three lefty relievers—Mike Stanton, Mark Guthrie and Chris Hammond—and give each 15 minutes to decide. Hammond, 37, signs for $4.8 million over 2 years. Hammond, out of baseball for 2 years, had a remarkable season, posting a .095 ERA in 63 games and did not allow an earned run after June 28. He is the 3rdpitcher since 1900 to post a sub–one ERA while pitching 70+ innings. The veteran Stanton doesn’t bother to respond to the step–child treatment and, preferring to remain in the New York area, will sign a three-year contract with the Mets in a week.
The Indians send C Einar Diaz and P Ryan Drese to the Rangers in exchange for P Aaron Myette and 1B Travis Hafner. Indians GM Mark Shapiro denies that the trade is “Jim Thome-motivated.” In his last 4 minor league seasons, Hafner has averaged .316, 23 homers, and 93 RBIs.
The MLB Players Association agrees to allow the Montreal Expos to play 22 home games in Puerto Rico next summer.
7th The Giants sign free agent 2B Ray Durham to a three-year contract.
10thThe Devil Rays sell 1B Steve Cox to the Yokohama Bay Stars, pending Cox clearing waivers.
11thThe Brewers sign free agent SS Royce Clayton to a contract.
12thThe Red Sox get 2B Todd Walker from the Rockies in return for 2 minor leaguers to be named.
The Yankees sign free agent P Chris Hammond to a two-year contract.
The Elias Sports Bureau announces that Anaheim OF Darin Erstad set the AL record for consecutive errorless chances for an OF this season and didn’t know it at the time.
13thThe Cardinals sign free agent P Chris Carpenter to a contract.
15thA four way trade is announced at the winter meetings in Nashville. The A’s get 1B Erubiel Durazo from the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks get P Elmer Dessens, who sported the 5thbest ERA (3.03) in the NL, from the Reds. The Reds get SS Felipe Lopez from the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays get Jason Arnold from Oakland.
The Red Sox acquire Jeremy Giambi from the Phillies for P Josh Hancock, 24, For Giambi, it is his 3rduniform this year.
The Mets trade slick fielding SS Rey Ordonez to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for two minor leaguers to be named. The Mets also throw in $4.25 million to help offset Ordonez’s $6.25 million salary. Ordonez, who had called the Mets fans “stupid”, departs as 3B Edgardo Alfonzo signs a four-year deal with the Giants, opening up the left side of the Mets infield. Nineteen-year–old Jose Reyes, the Mets top prospect, is expected to have first shot at the shortstop’s job.
The Padres traded P Brett Tomko to the Cardinals for P Luther Hackman and a player to be named later.
The Pirates agree to terms with free agent OF Matt Stairs.
The Giants announce that free agent 3B Edgardo Alfonso has agreed to a four-year deal.
16thThe Mets agree to terms on a three-year contract with free agent P Mike Stanton.
The Braves obtain P Ray King from the Brewers in exchange for IF Wes Helms and P John Foster.
The Cardinals sign free agent C Joe Girardi to a contract.
The Orioles sign free agent SS Deivi Cruz to a contract.
The Padres sign free agent IF Mark Loretta to a contract.
The Ortizes move. The Twins released !B David Ortiz yesterday and today the Giants trade P Russ Ortiz to the Braves for P Damian Moss and minor league P Manuel Mateo.
17thThe Braves sign free agent P Paul Byrd to a two-year contract.
The Cubs sign free agent OF Troy O’Leary to a one-year contract for $750,000.
18thThe Astros sign free agent 2B Jeff Kent to a two-year, $18.2 million contract, with a $9 million option for 2005. Kent will play 2B and all–star second baseman Craig Biggio will move to the OF.
The Red Sox sign free agent P Mike Timlin to a contract.
The Yankees sign free agent 3B Todd Zeile to a contract.
The Rangers sign free agent OF Doug Glanville.
19thThe Yankees sign Japanese OF Hideki Matsui to a three-year contract.
20thThe Mets sign free agent OF Cliff Floyd to a four-year contract.
The Braves trade P Kevin Millwood to the Phillies for C Johnny Estrada.Meanwhile, according to Braves GM John Schuerholz, “The economics in baseball stink. The economics stink, and if this isn’t a clear enough signal to the doubters and naysayers, to be forced to trade an 18–game winner to your arch enemy . . . The economics stink.”
The Cubs sign free agent P Shawn Estes.
The White Sox sign free agent C Sandy Alomar.
The Blue Jays sign free agent SS Mike Bordick to a contract.
22nd The Rangers sign free agent P Ugueth Urbina to a contract.
The Blue Jays sign free agent P Tanyon Sturtze.
24thThe Yankees agree to terms on a four-year contract with Cuban P Jose Contreras.
The Red Sox sign free agent P Chad Fox to a contract.
The A’s sign free agent OF Chris Singleton.
The Padres sign free agent P Jay Witasick to a two-year contract.
25thIn a meeting with baseball commissioner Bud Selig in Milwaukee, Pete Rose admits that he bet on baseball. “Four or five times a week, but never against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse,” says Pete. The account of this conversation will be in Rose’s book, published in January 2004.
26thThe Rangers sign free agent P Esteban Yan to a contract.
27thThe Mets sign free agent SS Rey Sanchez to a contract.
29thThe Red Sox sign free agent P Ramiro Mendoza to a two-year contract.
Cinergy Field, the former Riverfront Stadium, is demolished. The former home of the Cincinnati Reds was opened in 1970. The site will become the western concourse of Great American Ball Park and will include the Reds’ Hall of Fame when it opens in 2004.
30thThe Angels sign free agent OF Eric Owens to a contract.
The Blue Jays sign free agent OF Frank Catalanotto.