Drew dealt to Atlanta

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 14, 2003

NEW ORLEANS - The Boston Red Sox revved-up the arms race by closing a deal for All-Star closer Keith Foulke, while J.D. Drew and Juan Encarnacion also found new homes when talking turned into trading Saturday at the winter meetings.

Atlanta filled its need for a right fielder by getting Drew in a five-player swap with St. Louis. Desperate for hitters, Los Angeles acquired Encarnacion from Florida.

Miguel Tejada, Ivan Rodriguez, Greg Maddux and Vladimir Guerrero were among the many top free agents still available. So was former Gold Glove outfielder Mike Cameron, who personally came to the fringe of the French Quarter hoping to get a deal done.

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No major news, at least for now, from the New York Yankees. The only team that didn't send top executives to this four-day session, they tinkered to complete their Kevin Brown-for-Jeff Weaver trade with Los Angeles and worked on signing Kenny Lofton.

Sterling Hitchcock and Kent Mercker were among the middle-level pitchers hoping to soon find out where they'll play in 2004. Hitchcock was leaning toward returning to San Diego and Mercker might wind up back in Cincinnati.

Foulke, however, decided against re-signing with Oakland. Instead, the free agent reliever who led the AL with 43 saves last season reached agreement with the Red Sox on a deal that guarantees him $24 million.

''We're trying to build a bullpen that's deep,'' new Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, while not confirming Foulke's signing. ''You can call it what you want, but we're trying to shorten games.''

Foulke reached agreement on a three-year deal that includes a player option for a fourth season. He was set to take a physical to complete his deal, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Foulke joins starter Curt Schilling as top pitchers acquired by the Red Sox since the season ended. Boston also is talking about getting AL MVP Alex Rodriguez from Texas in a trade for Manny Ramirez.

The Red Sox haven't won a World Series championship since 1918, with the Yankees often getting in the way. Since losing in this year's Series, the Yankees have since traded for pitcher Javier Vazquez and neared a deal to get Brown.

As Foulke decided between the Red Sox and the Athletics, who offered a four-year deal, he was particularly interested in hearing about Boston's history and its ongoing quest to win a championship.

Having played in two-team markets throughout his career, the chance to help bring a title to an area so wrapped in only one club was a major factor.

The 31-year-old righty was 9-1 with 43 saves and a 2.08 ERA for Oakland last season and was an AL All-Star.

After letting loose Gary Sheffield - who is close to going to the Yankees, too - the Braves wanted a right fielder with a good bat. They hope they found one in Drew, getting him with all-purpose player Eli Marrero from St. Louis for pitchers Jason Marquis, Adam Wainright and Ray King.

''Adam is our No. 1 pitching prospect and that was tough to do, but under the circumstances we had no choice,'' Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz said.

Drew, 28, has been full of promise since becoming the fifth pick of the 1998 draft. But he's been hurt a lot, never playing more than 135 games in a season, and has been on the disabled list five times in the last four years.

Drew hit .289 last season with 15 homers and 42 RBIs in just 100 games.

''He's been a guy that has been touted with all kinds of talent through the years,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''Unfortunately, he's had all kinds of injuries.''

Said Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty: ''Our biggest concern is that he could have his breakout year. It's something we agonized about.''

The World Series champion Marlins sent Encarnacion to Los Angeles for a player to be named.

The Dodgers were eager to add offense after scoring a major league-low 574 runs last season. Encarnacion, 27, joined catcher Ivan Rodriguez, first baseman Derrek Lee and closer Ugueth Urbina as players to leave the Marlins since they won the title.

Encarnacion hit .270 with 19 home runs and 94 RBIs last season. He had a team-high 37 doubles and also stole 19 bases. He hasn't made an error in his last 220 games.