David Wells made the surprising decision to sign with the Boston Red Sox, and Roger Clemens narrowed his choices to the Houston Astros or retirement. Pittsburgh and Cleveland finalized...

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — David Wells made the surprising decision to sign with the Boston Red Sox, and Roger Clemens narrowed his choices to the Houston Astros or retirement.

Pittsburgh and Cleveland finalized the first trade of the winter meetings yesterday, with reliever and former Seattle Mariner Arthur Rhodes going to the Indians for outfielder Matt Lawton.

John Smoltz could rejoin the starting rotation for Atlanta, which acquired Danny Kolb from Milwaukee for pitching prospect Jose Capellan and a player to be named. Oakland discussed trading Tim Hudson, possibly to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Boston also worked to re-sign Pedro Martinez and add shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Baseball’s annual swap-fest also had a bit of spectacle on Day Two of the four-day session. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman arrived in a lobby filled with baseball executives and agents accompanied by two tall showgirls wearing feathered headdresses and an one gold-clad Elvis impersonator, campaigning for major league baseball to put a team in the gambling mecca.

And ESPN reported that ex-Mariner John Halama signed a one-year deal with Boston.

Wells, a loud lefty known for his unabashed love of Yankees history, agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract with Boston that could be worth up to $18 million over two years, a deal subject to a physical.

It will be sort of a Babe Ruth reverse commute for Wells, who spent four seasons with the Yankees during two tours. In June 1997, he even wore a Ruth cap from 1934 during a game against Cleveland.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona declined comment on Wells, but he said he wasn’t worried about having too many characters on the defending World Series champions.

“Last year we had a lot of strong personalities but they didn’t really go their own (way),” Francona said. “They just came together. I guess that’s what you want.”

Wells, 41, went 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA last season for his hometown San Diego Padres and made $6 million. He gets a $3 million signing bonus from the Red Sox, salaries of $2.5 million a year and the chance to earn $200,000 per start from Nos. 11-20 and $300,000 per start from Nos. 21-30.

“With the offer he got, it looked like it was an easy decision,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

Cashman wasn’t surprised Wells bolted to his old enemy.

“Despite his love for the Yankees, he walked away from us last year,” Cashman said. “The bottom line is it’s a business. He had to do what’s best for him and his family.”

Clemens, 42, said last week that he was leaning toward retirement, and agent Randy Hendricks said the seven-time Cy Young Award winner probably will make his decision between Jan. 5 and Jan. 20. If Clemens decides to pitch in 2005, he and the Astros either will agree to a contract or his salary will be determined by an arbitrator.

“It certainly makes a statement to us about how Roger feels about the Houston Astros,” new general manager Tim Purpura said. “Our interest is sincere and we’d certainly love to have him back.”

Clemens’ commitment to the Astros could help the team re-sign star center fielder Carlos Beltran, the prize of this year’s free-agent class.

“It’s not why we did it, but we understand there might be an impact,” Hendricks said. “He thinks the world of Carlos and hopes he re-signs.”

Rhodes, a 35-year-old left-hander, was acquired by Pittsburgh from Oakland on Nov. 27 in a trade that sent catcher Jason Kendall to the Athletics. Rhodes lost his closer’s job last season while going 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA for the A’s. He will become Bob Wickman’s setup man in Cleveland.

“There were a multitude of things that happened to him to explain why he had a bad year. We’re still hopeful he’s going to be a strong, solid contributor in the bullpen,” Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Lawton was a huge disappointment with the Indians, who acquired him in the 2001 trade that sent Roberto Alomar to the New York Mets. The 33-year-old battled injuries during much of his three seasons in Cleveland.

“He’s got some power, a left-handed hitter, it adds some nice balance to our offense,” Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield said.

Marlins told to leave stadium after 2010

MIAMI — The Florida Marlins will not be allowed to play in their stadium after the 2010 season, the latest factor in the team’s prolonged struggle to get a new ballpark.

Pro Player Stadium president Bruce Schulze said 2010 is the last of a series of one-year lease options for the Marlins, who share the complex with the Miami Dolphins. He said dropping the Marlins would let the stadium pursue such events as cricket and soccer.

The stadium in northern Miami-Dade County belongs to Dolphins owner and Marlins founding owner H. Wayne Huizenga.

“The owner is free to do what he chooses,” Marlins president David Samson said. “What this does is make it very clear the need for the Marlins to have a new place to play is no longer just about economics. It’s about survival.”

Commissioner Bud Selig said he hoped “logic will prevail” and the Marlins will get a stadium. The Marlins are deadlocked with local officials over plans to build a 38,000-seat, $420 million retractable-roof stadium near the Orange Bowl.

On Wednesday, team officials met with Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman about a possible move. The Las Vegas trip angered Miami mayor Manny Diaz and city manager Joe Arriola, who accused the team of negotiating in bad faith. Both said the city’s offer to the team stood, and county officials were optimistic about a deal.