LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Baseball's winter meetings ended with a thud Thursday, wrapping up after just one major trade and only a handful of free-agent signings during the week.
Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants were still apart, Barry Zito wasn't close to signing and Manny Ramirez remained with the Boston Red Sox.
Kansas City made the biggest move on the final day, agreeing to a $55 million, five-year contract with right-hander Gil Meche.
Also, backup first baseman Daryle Ward reached a preliminary agreement with the Chicago Cubs on a $1.05 million, one-year deal and the Atlanta Braves completed their deal to acquire reliever Rafael Soriano from the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Horacio Ramirez.
Houston and the White Sox talked about a trade that would send Jon Garland to the Astros for outfielder Willy Taveras, pitcher Taylor Buchholz and a prospect. But the deal wasn't announced, perhaps because Chicago didn't like Buchholz's medical reports.
All in all, not much to cap baseball's biggest offseason gathering.
"It was probably more laying the groundwork than in the past," Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "I think you'll see more things happen in the next few weeks. I think there's a lot of free agents falling in place. I think once those have fallen in place, I think guys will start working some other stuff."
At the podium in the Dolphin hotel, only one trade was announced: The White Sox sent starter Freddy Garcia to Philadelphia on Wednesday night for pitching prospects Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez.
In the suites upstairs, many swaps were discussed.
"I think you're going to see in the next two weeks, there's going to be a wave of moves," New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "Usually, my experience is a domino effect. Once guys start getting off the board, all the back and forth goes out the window and people say, 'Hey, let's get a deal done.' The agents don't want to get shut out and the teams don't want to get shut out. So I expect here in the next two weeks there's going to be a lot of action. Free agents and signings. Everybody seems to be hesitant to do something."
Later Thursday, about two dozen free agents faced a midnight deadline to accept salary arbitration offers from their former teams. Milwaukee announced early in the day that infielder Tony Graffanino had accepted its offer.
Also, a pair of relievers seemed to be moving toward decisions: Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel. Cincinnati liked Gagne and Boston was interested in Dotel.
As team officials headed home, several signings were in various stages of working their way toward final agreements: outfielder J.D. Drew and shortstop Julio Lugo (Boston), pitcher Jason Schmidt and outfielder Luis Gonzalez (Los Angeles Dodgers), pitcher Greg Maddux (San Diego) and pitcher Vicente Padilla (Texas).
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry remained behind, hospitalized following an angioplasty. Hendry had ignored several pleas from manager Lou Piniella and special assistant Gary Hughes to see a doctor earlier in the week.
Team physician Stephen Adams sent the 51-year-old GM to an Orlando-area hospital for tests and Piniella drove Hendry there.
But Hendry kept closing deals, finishing up a $40 million, four-year agreement with pitcher Ted Lilly on Wednesday night from the hospital.
"Piniella and myself, we were the first of many," Hughes said. "It took him a while to get to the hospital because he thought it was more important to worry about the Rule 5 draft, Lilly, whatever. His priorities were skewed."
In Thursday's draft of players off Triple-A rosters, troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton wound up with Cincinnati. After the Cubs plucked the 25-year-old Hamilton from Tampa Bay, they sent him to the Reds for cash.
Hamilton was the overall No. 1 pick in the 1999 amateur draft. He missed two seasons because of injuries and unspecified personal issues, two more when he was suspended in February 2004 for violating baseball's drug policy and much of 2006 because of an injured left knee.