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Meetings close with trades; Tejada wants one more

The busiest winter meetings in years ended with a flurry of trades before teams headed home.

Miguel Tejada hopes the dealing isn't done.

Atlanta acquired a shortstop on the final day of the meetings, but an even better one could become available if Tejada gets his wish. Unhappy with Baltimore's lack of improvement, the All-Star said Thursday he would like the Orioles to trade him.

"I've been with the Orioles for two years and things have not gone in the direction that we expected, so I think a change of scenery would be the best," Tejada said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from the Dominican Republic.

"I've done many things with this team and I've not seen results, and the other teams are getting stronger while the Orioles have not made any signings to strengthen the club," the 2002 AL MVP said.

Perhaps Tejada could end up in Boston. The Red Sox need to replace Edgar Renteria after trading him to the Braves for third base prospect Andy Marte.

Renteria won Gold Gloves in 2002 and 2003, then helped St. Louis win the NL pennant in 2004. He signed a $40 million, four-year deal with the Red Sox but led the major leagues with 30 errors last season.

Boston agreed to pay $8 million of the $26 million he is owed in the next three seasons -- plus the $3 million buyout if his 2009 option is declined.

"We looked at his time in the National League and we believe that when he gets back to the National League in Atlanta, he will return to the Renteria of old," Atlanta General Manager John Schuerholz said.

Boston also is exploring trading 2004 World Series MVP Manny Ramirez, and teams want the Red Sox to pay some of the $57 million owed to the left fielder over the next three years.

The New York Daily News said the Sox now might sign free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez, the former Marlin with a great glove, and if they do so, they'll have made vast improvements to last season's rock-handed infield.

Tony Womack had signed with the Yankees after hitting .307 as Renteria's St. Louis teammate in 2004, but he lost his starting job a month into last season. The Yankees traded him to Cincinnati for infielder Kevin Howard and outfielder Ben Himes, and will send $900,000 to the Reds to offset part of Womack's $2 million salary.

New York also reached a preliminary agreement on a $2.4 million, two-year contract with lefty reliever Mike Myers, who was 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 65 games last season as Boston's left-handed specialist. Myers will get $1.15 million in the first year and $1.25 million in the second.

"The Yankees were one of my targeted teams this winter," Myers said. "I'm excited."

There were more than a dozen trades and 20 free-agent signings at the meetings.

Detroit was busy, agreeing to a $16 million, two-year contract with left-hander Kenny Rogers and an $11 million, two-year deal with closer Todd Jones.

Jones was 1-5 with a 2.10 ERA and 40 saves last season for the Florida Marlins, his sixth team since leaving Detroit.

"I'm glad to be back. I'm glad to be in the mix," he said.

Also, the Baltimore Orioles and catcher Ramon Hernandez reached a preliminary agreement on a $27.5 million, four-year contract, a deal subject to a physical.

The Los Angeles Times reported that according to multiple sources, the Angels have discussed a deal with the Orioles that would send first baseman Darin Erstad east for catcher Javy Lopez, who would serve as the Angels' full-time designated hitter and emergency catcher.
Lopez, who is due $8.5 million in 2006, the final year of a three-year, $22.5 million contract, hit .278 in 103 games last season, with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs.

Lopez's defensive skills have eroded, but with Jose Molina and Jeff Mathis sharing the catching job next season, the Angels wouldn't need Lopez much behind the plate. There also was talk that third baseman Bill Mueller and the Los Angeles Dodgers were negotiating a deal.
In other free-agent news, Colorado agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year deal with reliever Jose Mesa, the Kansas City Royals agreed to a two-year contract with pitcher Elmer Dessens, and infielder Jose Valentin agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Mets worth $912,500.

First baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney got a $1.8 million, two-year contract with San Francisco, and outfielder Orlando Palmeiro stayed with Houston for $1.9 million over two years.

The Reds finalized their trade that sent popular first baseman Sean Casey and $1 million to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-hander Dave Williams. The deal had been tentatively agreed to Tuesday, subject to physicals.

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Tribe inactive in draft

The Cleveland Indians did not make any selections or lose any players Thursday in the annual Rule V draft of minor league players held in conjunction with the winter meetings. The Tribe feared some potential returnees for the Buffalo Bisons might be selected.

Players who were not on Cleveland's 40-man roster were eligible. They included Herd outfielders Ben Francisco and Jason Cooper, a 100-RBI man last year between Buffalo and Double-A Akron, and infielder Jake Gautreau, a Triple-A All-Star.

"We were very pleased not to lose any players. It was what we hoped," said John Farrell, Cleveland's director of player development. "We wanted to keep them in our organization and now we'll have the chance to continue their development."

Farrell also revealed that Cleveland has signed veteran infielder Jose Flores to a minor-league free agent contract. Flores, 32, is a good bet to be Buffalo's shortstop in 2006. He hit .336 with four homers and 42 RBIs last year in 96 games for Las Vegas, the Dodgers affiliate.

News sports reporter Mike Harrington contributed to this report

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