Bonds' arrival highlights Wednesday morning at winter meetings

Wednesday, December 6th 2006, 6:23 am
By: News On 6

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Barry Bonds showed up at the baseball winter meetings Wednesday, arriving for what his agent said would be a busy day as the slugger looks for work.

Many people who have been around Bonds couldn't remember the last time he showed up for this annual event, perhaps as far back as 1993 when he joined the San Francisco Giants.

The Boston Red Sox were the busiest team on the second day of baseball's winter meetings, adding right fielder J.D. Drew and shortstop Julio Lugo to their starting lineup.

The San Diego Padres also made a splash Tuesday by putting Greg Maddux in their rotation.

But while a few free agents finally got snapped up, the first trade at the meetings wasn't announced until Wednesday morning, when the New York Mets shipped pitcher Brian Bannister to Kansas City for young reliever Ambiorix Burgos.

``I do believe the free-agent market is kind of holding off a little bit the trade front, because there are so many free agents still available,'' Mets general manager Omar Minaya said.

In another possible swap, the Chicago Cubs appeared to be discussing deals involving outfielder Jacque Jones.

Boston's attempts to deal Manny Ramirez appeared to be slowing. But the Red Sox did reach preliminary agreements on a $70 million, five-year contract with Drew and a $36 million, four-year deal with Lugo. If healthy, Drew would bat behind David Ortiz and Ramirez in the middle of the order.

``With David and Manny, if they want to walk those guys, we want them to pay a steep price,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Ramirez at times has said he wants to leave Boston, which annually explores trades for him. Giants general manager Brian Sabean joked about a possible Ramirez trade, saying ``it might be a four-way.'' He hinted that he'd been in the suite of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

``Boston has vats of Starbucks coffee, cafeteria vats,'' Sabean said.

Maddux and the Padres, meanwhile, closed in on a $10 million, one-year contract, a deal that would contain a player option for 2008. Agent Scott Boras, without indicating a team, said Maddux's deal ``was moving positively ... but not done yet.''

Details on Maddux's potential contract with the Padres were disclosed by two people familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal had been completed.

``Southern California was always a place Greg wanted to play. He was very happy in L.A. last year,'' Boras said. ``San Diego also has an environment for his family. His decisions are based primarily on his family.''

Boras said Barry Zito, another client, was ``geographically free.'' Zito, the top available free-agent pitcher, could wind up with a contract of six or seven years, a length that might eliminate several suitors. The Giants apparently were inquiring about Zito as well.

``In the marketplace there have been three-year deals given for guys that have had substantial injury histories,'' Boras said. ``Last year, we got a five-(year) deal for Kevin Millwood. Zito has pristine durability. He's never missed a start. So definitely he's going to be someone that's in that range.''

San Francisco and Borris talked for the second straight day about a deal to keep the left fielder with the Giants _ and then Bonds showed at the meetings Wednesday.

``We do have a lot of dialogue with them,'' Borris said. ``I'm not frustrated. It's a business. ... His status is a healthy, 42-year-old unemployed baseball player. He is looking for work on a team with a chance to make the postseason, as a left fielder, DH or a combination of both.''

Oakland was hoping to reach an agreement with Mike Piazza, also represented by Borris' agency, to become its designated hitter. That deal could be struck Wednesday.

In Tuesday's only announced free-agent agreement, reliever LaTroy Hawkins and the Colorado Rockies completed a $3.5 million, one-year contract. On Wednesday, the Cleveland Indians completed a $4.25 million, one-year deal with potential closer Joe Borowski and an $11.5 million, three-year contract with outfielder David Dellucci. Borowski's agreement includes a club option for 2008.

In an overheated market, especially for pitchers, Ted Lilly was likely to get a four-year contract, with the Chicago Cubs the most likely destination. Mark Mulder was getting multiyear offers even though he had rotator cuff surgery in September. Houston manager Phil Garner was hoping Andy Pettitte would choose pitching over retirement _ and decide to stay with his hometown Astros rather than return to the Yankees.

``I certainly am tainted by my biased feeling that he wants to be in Houston. He needs to be in Houston and we want him to be in Houston,'' Garner said. ``And his family is dying for him to be in Houston. His kids are pining every day at school wondering, 'Oh, Daddy, please don't go anywhere else. Stay in Houston.' I could hear it all over the city.''

Boras said reliever Eric Gagne, coming off elbow surgery in April and back surgery in July, had many suitors. The former All-Star closer was born in Montreal, leading to speculation Toronto might be interested.

``It doesn't hurt to have a hockey town involved,'' Boras said.