Rangers still looking to deal A-Rod to Bosox

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2003

NEW YORK - The Red Sox insisted their trade for Alex Rodriguez had fallen apart. Commissioner Bud Selig broke up talks between Boston and the star shortstop. And the players' union still wasn't satisfied.

Even so, the Texas Rangers weren't giving up that easily.

''There is a likelihood the deal is dead,'' Texas general manager John Hart said Thursday. ''But at the same time, we haven't issued a statement that it's completely dead.''

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In the meantime, several other deals got done.

Reliever Arthur Rhodes and the Oakland Athletics agreed on a three-year contract, a source familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The lefty must pass a physical to finalize the deal worth about $9.2 million.

The A's also acquired reliever Chris Hammond in a trade with the New York Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers.

Reliever Kent Mercker and outfielder Todd Hollandsworth signed with the Chicago Cubs, pitcher Ismael Valdes went to San Diego and a pair of backup catchers got jobs - Henry Blanco in Minnesota and Mike DiFelice in Detroit.

Plus, the Seattle Mariners made sure they'd have right fielder Ichiro Suzuki for a while, agreeing with him on a $44 million, four-year contract.

Selig had set a late afternoon deadline for an agreement between Boston and Texas. When it passed, he said the Red Sox could no longer speak to A-Rod about restructuring his contract.

''The proposed trade between the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers is dead,'' Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said.

''The players' association's intransigence and the arbitrary nature of its action are responsible for the deal's demise today,'' he said.

The Rangers, however, believed they could rekindle the swap of Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks will probably speak to the Red Sox to try to work out an agreement after all, Hart said.

''In the spirit of cooperation, I advised the Red Sox I am willing to restructure my contract, but only within the guidelines prescribed by union officials,'' Rodriguez said in a statement he read to The Associated Press.

Rodriguez offered to reduce salaries in his contract by $12 million in exchange for increased marketing and logo use rights, agent Scott Boras said.

The proposal from the Red Sox that the players' association rejected a day earlier would have cost Rodriguez $28 million, according to the team's evaluation, and $30 million, according to the union's analysis, Boras said.

''We're going to be in communication with the Rangers as to their discussions with the Red Sox,'' Boras said. ''Every indication we had was that the parties would continue to talk.''

Rhodes, 34, is expected to start the season as the Athletics' closer, a spot the team needed to fill after Keith Foulke signed last weekend with Boston. Foulke led the AL with 43 saves for the AL West champion A's.

Rhodes has never been a full-time closer. His season high for saves is four in 1998.

Oakland did not confirm the deal, but manager Ken Macha spoke highly of Rhodes.

''I don't think you can question his stuff,'' Macha said at a team function. ''It's a matter of him getting out there and seeing what he does.''

Rhodes was 3-3 with three saves and a 4.17 ERA in 67 games for Seattle last season. He served mostly as a setup man for Kazuhiro Sasaki and Shigetoshi Hasegawa.

The Athletics got Hammond from the Yankees for pitcher Edwardo Sierra and infielder J.T. Stotts. New York also is sending cash to cover part of Hammond's contract.

Hammond, 37, was 3-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 62 relief appearances last season, his first with New York. He fell out of favor in the second half of the season after the Yankees acquired Gabe White and Felix Heredia.