Dodgers, Andruw Jones reach preliminary agreement on $36.2 million, 2-year contract
By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer
December 6, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones is set to give the Los Angeles Dodgers the dangerous slugger they sorely need.
Now, they hope he bounces back from a miserable season.
Jones and the Dodgers reached a preliminary agreement on a $36.2 million, two-year contract late Wednesday as action picked up on the final night of the winter meetings. The deal came hours after Detroit and Florida finished their blockbuster trade that sent All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the go-for-broke Tigers.
A winner of 10 consecutive Gold Gloves with Atlanta, Jones must pass a physical for the agreement to be completed, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. The deal would give him the fifth-highest average salary in the major leagues.
Scott Boras, his agent, wouldn't confirm the agreement but sounded as if a deal had fallen into place.
"Being on a competitive team was a very, very important part of his process," he said.
Jones is the first major addition for the Dodgers since they hired Joe Torre as manager. Los Angeles ranked 15th out of 16 NL teams in home runs this season with 129.
A five-time All-Star, Jones hit .222 for the Braves this year, his lowest average since he batted .217 in 106 at-bats as a rookie in 1996. His 26 homers were his fewest since 1997.
Had Jones finished with big numbers, he likely would have sought a longer-term agreement. Boras said there were really only two options when it came to contract length.
"Very, very long term or very, very short term," he said. "Nothing in between."
Earlier in the day, Cabrera and Willis officially joined the Tigers when Detroit finalized its eight-player swap with the downsizing Marlins.
"It's almost like walking past the Christmas tree four days before Christmas with all the presents there, but you can't unwrap them," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's been mind-boggling."
Other teams were doing more talking than trading.
Johan Santana was still with the Minnesota Twins as negotiations with the Boston Red Sox appeared to slow down. The New York Yankees, having said they were out of the Santana sweepstakes, were considering only minor moves.
There was no major news on Oakland's Dan Haren and Baltimore's Erik Bedard, two other starting pitchers who might be available in the trade market.
Colorado did move to re-sign Aaron Cook, closing in on a $30 million, three-year deal with its Game 4 starter in the World Series.
While pitching has been the focus of many teams, the Dodgers also talked with St. Louis about third baseman Scott Rolen, who has feuded with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
"He asked to be traded. So I think under normal circumstances, if a guy doesn't want to be part of your situation, then you consider that. So inquiries have been made," La Russa said, sounding a bit like Don Corleone.
In the biggest trade of the offseason, the Marlins received a package of six players from Detroit, including two highly rated prospects: left-hander Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin. The teams reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday.
Florida also acquired catcher Mike Rabelo and right-handers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern. Signed for $1,325,000 next year, Miller immediately became the highest-paid player on the Marlins.
Cabrera and Willis were the last players left from Florida's 2003 World Series championship team. But having failed thus far to secure funding for a new ballpark, the Marlins felt they couldn't afford the salaries of Cabrera, who figures to make at least $11 million next year, and Willis, who likely will earn about $8 million.
"Although we cannot ignore the economic realities we face, which will change the moment we are in a new facility, our determination to win on the field remains as steadfast as ever," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said.
Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year, was on vacation in Mexico when he heard the news.
"I was caught off-guard," he said on a conference call. "When I heard where I was going, I was eager and excited."
Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said the pudgy Cabrera had already lost 15 pounds during the offseason.
"If he has been a little bit overweight, he's still a pretty good player, in fact a very good player," Dombrowski said. "We'll work with him on it."
Cabrera, an All-Star in each of the past four seasons and one of the game's top sluggers, joins a lineup that includes Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria, acquired from Atlanta this offseason.
"I, like everyone else in Detroit, am astounded!" Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "I had no idea it was even a possibility."
On the Santana front, Minnesota general manager Bill Smith maintained the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner could remain with the Twins. Santana will get $13.25 million next year, then become eligible for free agency. The Twins haven't been able to sign him to an extension.
"I've said all along it's our first choice," Smith said. "We'd love to keep him."
In addition to the Red Sox and Yankees, the Mets also have told Minnesota they remain interested.
"The big fish are out there. Santana is still out there," New York manager Willie Randolph said. "I don't think that we're necessarily out of the picture even though I think Boston and the Yankees get most of the play on that. Depends on what Minnesota wants, if they have what we like, that's something that might happen."
But Minnesota didn't seem in a hurry to trade Santana.
"If it's a Red Sox player, Red Sox timetable. That's how I would look at it," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "They're probably doing the same thing."