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Joe Garagiola Jr. packed up, set to head home and ready to deal with Randy Johnson. The Arizona general manager figures to be real busy in the near future.

He's hardly alone. After five days of discussion, debate and a final South Beach birthday bash, the GM meetings broke up. Now the real business begins -- starting Friday, teams could talk money with any free agent.

There's also a better chance clubs can complete the trades they talked about this week. The Mets huddled with the Chicago Cubs for two straight days, raising speculation that Sammy Sosa might be headed to New York.

The New York Yankees plan to be prime players in the winter markets. They missed out on getting Johnson over the summer and may take another run at the Arizona ace.

Johnson and the Diamondbacks aren't exactly a great match anymore. The 2001 World Series co-MVP with Curt Schilling, the Big Unit spent this year with a team that lost 111 games. He's due $16 million next year, and a trade could help Arizona cut its payroll.

"If this process were to begin, it would end with Randy," Garagiola said. "He is a 10-and-5 player, he has a no-trade clause. No one is in more control of his situation than Randy."

Garagiola hopes to meet with the 41-year-old Johnson next week to reach some sort of understanding.

Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciaparra and Troy Percival were some of the available free agents, with Roger Clemens one of the last to file.

Reliever Doug Brocail became the first of the 207 to sign, returning to the Texas Rangers for a $1 million, one-year deal Friday. And among players eligible for arbitration, Cincinnati catcher Jason LaRue agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

Berkman has surgery

Astros outfielder Lance Berkman had surgery on his injured right knee, with recovery time expected to take from five to six months.

Berkman, 28, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing flag football at a church-related function after the season.

He is eligible for salary arbitration and can become a free agent after next season.

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