Thu, Dec 16, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Pedro Martinez decides to go to New York Mets


Pedro Martinez picked the New York Mets over the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago White Sox dealt Carlos Lee to Milwaukee for Scott Podsednik and a reliever as baseball's annual winter meetings finished with many top stars still searching for teams.

There were just five trades and seven free-agent signings finalized during the four-day session, but several teams struck preliminary agreements with free agents that will be completed later this week.

Richie Sexson and Seattle appeared to be working their way toward a deal Monday, but the first baseman's agent said Baltimore was still in the hunt. The agent for Carlos Delgado, another first baseman, held preliminary talks with the New York Yankees.

Four free-agent agreements were announced, topped by catcher Mike Matheny's US$10.5 million, three-year agreement with San Francisco. Right-hander Esteban Yan agreed to a US$2.25 million, two-year contract with Anaheim, right-hander Todd Jones finalized a US$1.1 million, one-year deal with Florida and outfielder Wil Cordero got a US$600,000, one-year contract from the Washington-bound Expos, who also agreed to a minor league deal with outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds.

In an agreement awaiting a physical, second baseman Jose Hernandez agreed to a US$1.8 million, one-year contract with Cleveland. Late Sunday night, the Toronto Blue Jays and free-agent third baseman Corey Koskie reached preliminary agreement on a US$17 million, three-year contract.

As teams headed home, many top free agents remained on the market, including Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Magglio Ordonez, Derek Lowe, Eric Milton, Jason Varitek, Orlando Cabrera, J.D. Drew, Edgar Renteria and Moises Alou.

Among the deals awaiting completion were Carl Pavano's four-year contract with the Yankees, a deal worth about US$39 million, and David Wells' two-year agreement with Boston.

Making the biggest splash of the meetings, Martinez closed in on a four-year deal with the Mets.

"He was a great member of the Red Sox team for seven years, and a certain Hall of Famer," Boston president Larry Lucchino told AP in an e-mail.

Martinez's agent, Fernando Cuza, told the Mets he will attempt to work out a deal with them after New York guaranteed a fourth year, a person involved in the talks said on condition of anonymity.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya expressed confidence about the negotiations with Martinez, but wouldn't detail the discussions.

"The good news is that we're still in dialogue," Minaya said. "Every day that goes by and we are having dialogue is a good day."

Minaya then left baseball's winter meetings and returned to New York, and the sides will work by telephone to finalize the contract language. Cuza did not want to comment on the talks.

Martinez helped pitch Boston to its first World Series title since 1918, but Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said he refused to increase the team's offer in the past two days.

"We wish Pedro nothing but the best going forward both on the field and off the field," Boston owner John Henry said in an e-mail. "He pitched with every ounce of his being for the Red Sox over the course of 216 games. Some of those performances were among the most memorable in Red Sox history. Who will ever forget the 1999 All-Star game? He has earned everything that he has accomplished, including his World Series ring and his reputation as one of the greatest who ever lived."

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