Jason Varitek decided to stay with the Boston Red Sox yesterday and David Eckstein agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, completing a game of musical chairs among shortstops...
NEW YORK — Jason Varitek decided to stay with the Boston Red Sox yesterday and David Eckstein agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, completing a game of musical chairs among shortstops.
Varitek agreed to a $40 million, four-year contract with the World Series champion Red Sox, a deal that is to be announced today, a lawyer with knowledge of the negotiations said.
Cut loose by Anaheim on Monday, Eckstein agreed to a $10.25 million, three-year contract with the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Boston started the shortstop switches by luring Edgar Renteria from St. Louis with a $40 million, four-year contract. Anaheim then agreed to a $32 million, four-year deal with Orlando Cabrera, who helped the Red Sox sweep St. Louis in the World Series.
Also yesterday, Andres Galarraga, 43, agreed to a minor-league contract with the New York Mets. The first baseman, who has come back twice from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, needs one home run to reach 400.
Two other deals were finalized as many teams started closing their offices for the holiday break: the Dodgers’ $55 million, five-year contract with outfielder J.D. Drew and Boston’s $1.5 million, one-year agreement with right-hander Wade Miller, let go by Houston earlier this week.
Varitek, who hit a career-high .296 last season with 18 homers and 73 runs batted in, will receive a $4 million signing bonus paid over four years and annual salaries of $9 million. The sides compromised over his desire for a no-trade clause, working out a solution that will cover a large part of the contract but not all of it.
“Jason is clearly a key asset we need (to) retain. He is the rock-solid leader of our club,” principal owner John Henry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press, without confirming an agreement.
Eckstein was the second major offseason acquisition for the Cardinals, who obtained 17-game winner Mark Mulder from Oakland last week for two pitchers and a minor-league catching prospect. They still need a second baseman to replace Tony Womack, who signed with the New York Yankees.
Eckstein hit .276 with two homers and 35 RBI last season, and scored 92 runs. He struck out just 49 times in 566 at-bats.
The shortstop will replace Womack in the leadoff slot, and he likes the Cardinals’ chances of returning to the World Series.
“They have a great nucleus of guys,” he said. “That lineup they put out there, you’re playing with a bunch of All-Stars, and it’s going to be fun to be a part of it.”
Eckstein, 29, was a fan favorite in Anaheim, helping the Angels win the 2002 World Series with his spunky play. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told him to keep it up.
“Mr. La Russa said just to play my game, be a pest at the plate and play solid defense,” Eckstein said.
Drew played in a career-high 145 games for Atlanta last season, hitting .305 and setting personal bests with 31 homers, 118 runs scored, 93 RBI, 158 hits and 118 walks.
“I’m looking forward to another healthy year,” Drew said. “The thing I learned last year is the more you’re on the field, the more consistent you can become.”
Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta thinks Drew is one of the game’s most complete players.
“What we saw last year we hope is the first great year of many years to come,” DePodesta said. “He had been a target for a long time. He comes in with a great track record, and we feel he’s just entering his prime. We have a 29-year-old who’s an excellent fielder, hits with power and also gets on base.”
Tino Martinez may be headed back to Yankees
NEW YORK — In the middle of their big-game hunting, the Yankees have spent time trying to bring back an old friend.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he has spoken recently with the representative for free-agent first baseman Tino Martinez. While Cashman stressed that negotiations have not yet begun, a Martinez-Yankees reunion makes sense and appears likely.
With Jason Giambi’s future in pinstripes extremely uncertain, both in terms of the team’s desire to dispose of him and Giambi’s poor health, the Yankees need another option at first base.
Martinez, 37, hit .262 with 23 homers and 76 RBI for his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays last season. He played his usual solid defense at first base.
A Yankee from 1996 through 2001, Martinez started his career with the Mariners.
D.C. asks for private stadium funding
WASHINGTON — Private investors have until Jan. 17 to submit proposals to assist financing Washington’s new ballpark under a process started yesterday by the city’s chief financial officer.
Legislation approved Tuesday by the District of Columbia Council contemplates that at least half of the stadium construction costs come from private sources.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed a letter to the council stating he would include private financing in the stadium package, but the legislation allows the city to revert to publicly financed bonds if private financing falls through.
The process gives investors nearly four weeks to submit proposals along with nonrefundable $10,000 deposits.
Funding proposals must significantly reduce the city’s cost for the ballpark and explain how the plan would benefit the city and the investor. But they cannot be based on revenue such as stadium-naming rights, which are owned by the team. The club, formerly the Expos, will be renamed the Nationals.