2001 January

3rdThe Astros sign free agent P Kent Bottenfield.

4thThe Angels sign free agent P Ismael Valdes to a contract.

5thFree agent signings include Reggie Sanders to the Diamondbacks; INF Greg Norton to the Rockies; P Mark Guthrie to the A’s for 2 years; and vet Bobby Bonilla by the Cards.

8thIn a three-way deal, the Royals obtain catcher A.J. Hinch, OF Angel Berroa and cash from the A’s, and P Roberto Hernandez from the Devil Rays; the A’s receive P Cory Lidle from the Devil Rays, and OF Johnny Damon, IF Mark Ellis, and a player to be named from the Royals; and the Devil Rays receive OF Ben Grieve and a player to be named from the A’s.

9thThe Indians sign free agent OF Juan Gonzalez to a contract.

The Reds sign free agents C Kelly Stinnett and IF Wilton Guerrero to contracts.

The White Sox announce that P Bill Simas will miss the entire 2001 season following ligament replacement surgery on his elbow last month.

10thThe Phillies sign free agent OF Brian Hunter to a contract, while the Cubs ink free agent INF Ron Coomer to a contract. Coomer will go on the DL April 4 with a knee injury, opening the door for Julio Zuleta.

12thThe Red Sox sign free agent P David Cone to a contract. Cone, 4–14 in 2000, had turned down a Yankee offer to try and make the team as the 5th starter.

13thMajor league baseball announces that the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays will open the 2001 season in Puerto Rico, marking the 3rd straight year the season will begin outside the US and Canada.

14thThe White Sox obtain pitchers David Wells and Matt DeWitt from the Blue Jays for pitcher Mike Sirotka, Kevin Beirne, and Mike Williams, and OF Brian Simmons. Sirotka will pass one physical but a later one will show arm damage and the Jays will seek, unsuccessfully, additional compensation. Sirotka will be operated on April 24 and will be out for the season without ever throwing an inning for the Jays. Boomer will struggle to 5–7 before going down in July and need surgery.

16thOutfielders Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett are elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year on the ballot. After much speculation, Winfield announces he’ll go in as a Padre.

18th  President-elect Bush, in an interview with the AP, says he is worried about baseball’s labor contract, which expires on October 31. “I was around when the last strike occurred and it hurt the game.” Bush, once managing partner of the Texas Rangers left the job to run for governor in 1994. The team was sold in 1998. “I can just say loud and clear, I hope there’s not a strike. But it’s going to be up to the participants. . . . They shouldn’t be looking to me. They need to get this settled themselves.”  He suggests, “Get rid of arbitration if possible and have, maybe, free agency occur at an earlier time, and if there’s three shortstops and two bidders the price goes down, and vice versa, it goes up.”

26thThe Royals sign free agent IF Luis Alicea.

31stA story in The Wall Street Journalquotes three former members of the 1951 New York Giants as admitting that they stole catchers’ signs at the Polo Grounds to help the club overtake the Dodgers and win the pennant. Except for Sal Yvars, all the participants will deny using the system during the 3-game playoff with the Dodgers.