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Trade adds more to Sosa-led Chicago

The Associated Press

Anaheim, Calif.

Monday, December 13, 1999

Anaheim, Calif. – Convinced they need more than Sammy Sosa, the Chicago Cubs kept reshaping their roster, getting pitcher Ismael Valdes and second baseman Eric Young in a five-player trade Sunday with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While the New York Mets talked about mega-deals for Ken Griffey Jr. and Manny Ramirez, and other teams discussed Chuck Finley, Hideki Irabu and Tony Fernandez, the Cubs made a move for the third straight day at the winter meetings.

Chicago sent reliever Terry Adams, minor league pitcher Chad Ricketts and a player to be named to the cost-conscious Dodgers. Earlier, the last-place Cubs reached tentative agreement with free agent catcher Joe Girardi and got center fielder Damon Buford in a trade with Boston.

”I know we’re a heck of a lot better than when I got on the plane in Chicago,” general manager Ed Lynch said.

Said new manager Don Baylor: ”If you look at the Chicago Cubs, it became Sammy Sosa’s Cubs, where guys expected home runs, not wins.”

The Philadelphia Phillies, needing a starter while Curt Schilling recovers from surgery, got Chris Brock from San Francisco for backup catcher Bobby Estalella. Also, Baltimore sent reserve infielder Jeff Reboulet to Kansas City for a player to be named.

Late Saturday night, the Mets signed free agent Todd Zeile to fill the vacancy at first base left by John Olerud’s departure.

But the Mets, who got reliever Jesse Orosco from Baltimore on Friday, also were talking about blockbuster-caliber trades.

Having met with Seattle on Saturday about Griffey, they also considered sending pitchers Armando Benitez and Octavio Dotel and outfielder Roger Cedeno to Cleveland for outfielder Ramirez, who led the majors with 165 RBIs.

”We have several larger deals that we’re still thinking about and contemplating,” Mets GM Steve Phillips said. ”For the most part, you know what it will be, but nobody’s got to the point where they have the courage to say, ‘Let’s do it.”’

Offered Cleveland GM John Hart: ”Manny wants to be an Indian. He’s made that clear. We like Manny very much.”

Zeile, 34, agreed to a three-year contract worth $18 million. He hit .293 with 24 home runs and 98 RBIs as Texas third baseman, and looked forward to moving across the diamond and joining the Mets.

”The fact is I have always wanted the opportunity to play in New York City,” said Zeile, present at the hotel where the announcement was made.

Hours earlier, Zeile spent time in the Rangers’ suite and was close to re-signing with them.

”I thought we had him,” general manager Doug Melvin said.

Now, Texas is thinking about Fernandez to play third base.

Finley’s name was prominent, too. Cut loose by Anaheim, the free agent pitcher is attracting interest from Cleveland, Seattle, Baltimore and Boston.

The New York Yankees could pursue Finley, provided they work out a trade for Irabu. Though the Yankees were staying away from these meetings, they were talking to Cincinnati by phone about a deal for Irabu, their No. 5 starter.

The Reds, who broke off trade talks with Seattle for Griffey, also were going after Arizona’s Travis Lee. And there were rumors about a multi-team trade, possibly involving Montreal, Milwaukee and Colorado.

Arizona locked up Tony Womack, the NL stolen base leader for three straight seasons, with a $17 million, four-year contract.

Womack, 30, stole 72 bases last season as the Diamondbacks’ leadoff man. Moved from second base to right field by Arizona in 1999, he’s shifting to shortstop for 2000.

Butch Henry, who played for Colorado in its first season, returned to the Rockies with a minor league contract. He was 2-0 with a 5.04 ERA for Seattle last season.

The Cubs and Dodgers both continued to take care of their needs with the five-player trade. Los Angeles wants to reduce its payroll while Chicago sought a starting pitcher and a leadoff man.