To learn about our efforts to improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please visit our Accessibility Information page. Skip to section navigation or Skip to main content
Below is an advertisement.


Skip to main content
Below is an advertisement.

 New Mets shortstop Kazuo Matsui is ready for the New York spotlight. (AP Photo)

January February March April May June July August September October November December console
December: Dealings and signings
Baseball's general managers had their shopping lists all ready to go for a wild holiday shopping spree, and the Winter Meetings were the mall waiting for the throng of buyers and sellers. Here's a look at some of what happened in the final calendar month of the year, a simmering first month of the Hot Stove League that promises to keep the winter warm for baseball fans:
Team Stories & Headlines

By John Schlegel /

See the results >

December 1
After moving ace pitcher Curt Schilling and his contract to the Boston Red Sox over Thanksgiving weekend, the Diamondbacks had enough flexibility to pick up slugger Richie Sexson from the Milwaukee Brewers, giving them a right-handed power threat to pair up with left-handed Luis Gonzalez. Also, Dennis Eckersley leads 15 newcomers to the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Voting results from the 32-man ballot will be announced Jan. 6.

December 2
The Florida Marlins wrap up two big pieces of their World Series puzzle, agreeing to multiyear deals with second baseman Luis Castillo and third baseman Mike Lowell.
Sights and Sounds
Experience all the great moments of baseball in 2003 with monthly video recaps and clips, captivating audio highlights and a look at each month in photos. Also cast your vote for the best baseball photo of 2003. Launch >

December 3
Philadelphia adds left-hander Eric Milton to its rotation, acquiring him from the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Carlos Silva, infielder Nick Punto and a player to be named.

December 4
The latest exodus of Expos begins, as Montreal deals ace right-hander Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for a package of players that includes young first baseman Nick Johnson. Also, the Red Sox end the search for the successor to Grady Little, hiring Terry Francona as the 44th manager in club history.

December 7
A whopping 141 free agents are not offered arbitration by their former clubs, and some of the names are big ones, including Atlanta's Greg Maddux and Gary Sheffield, Florida's Ivan Rodriguez, Montreal's Vladimir Guerrerro and Texas' Rafael Palmeiro.

December 8
Shortstop Kazuo Matsui, the latest import from Japanese baseball, announces he's ready to play for the Mets, signing a three-year deal worth $20.1 million.

December 9

The Anaheim Angels, quiet the previous offseason after winning the World Series, make a loud statement for 2004 and beyond by signing Bartolo Colon to a four-year deal, adding him to rotation that also includes newcomer Kelvim Escobar. Also, a pair of late-inning specialists find new homes as Eddie Guardado bolts the Twins to join a Seattle bullpen than is heavy on closer types, and Tim Worrell leaves San Francisco after one year as closer and joins the Phillies as the setup man for new closer Billy Wagner.
December 11

Ready to be closer to home, lefty Andy Pettitte signs with the Astros and leaves the Yankees behind. Pettitte's signing also stirs up speculation that Roger Clemens, a close friend of Pettitte's who lives in Houston, might come out of retirement with the Astros.

December 12
As the Winter Meetings begin in New Orleans, the Red Sox and Rangers are try to keep mum about a subject that's one everyone's lips: a possible trade involving Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. Meanwhile, the world awaits as Gary Sheffield works final snags out of his reported deal with the Yankees, and the Toronto Blue Jays make the first actual move of the session, signing free-agent right-hander Miguel Batista to a three-year contract.

December 13
Now this is more like the Winter Meetings. The Red Sox, who entered the 2003 season without a designated closer, sign top saves man Keith Foulke after winning a bidding war with the Oakland A's. Also, the trade of Kevin Brown to the Yankees from the Dodgers for Jeff Weaver, minor leaguers and cash is finalized. In other moves, free agent outfielder Mike Cameron leaves the Mariners to sign with the Mets, and the Dodgers acquire outfielder Juan Encarnacion from Florida for a player to be named later. And in a trade that the GMs involved envisioned as one of those deals that works out well for both sides, the Braves acquired J.D. Drew to become a right fielder to replace Gary Sheffield and the Cardinals received three pitchers, including starter Jason Marquis.

December 14
The Oakland A's say goodbye to a free agent for the second straight day, as shortstop Miguel Tejada chooses the Baltimore Orioles, who sign him to a six-year deal worth $72 million. The Orioles also make offers to top free agents Vladimir Guerrero and Pudge Rodriguez. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays parted with lefty Joe Kennedy, sending him to the Colorado Rockies, who sent reliever Justin Speier to Toronto as part of a three-way transaction.
December 15
As the Winter Meetings wrap up, the Giants acquire outfielder Dustan Mohr from the Twins and the A's get catcher Michael Barrett from the Expos -- a fizzle of an ending to the meetings but another indication that GMs left New Orleans with a lot of work to do this winter.

Dec. 17

The proposed megadeal involving Alex Rodriguez hits a serious snag, as the MLB Players Association rejects the proposed changes in A-Rod's contract, with one day before Commissioner Bud Selig's deadline for the Red Sox to negotiate with Rodriguez. Also, the Yankees and Devil Rays will be a long way from their East Coast home fields for their first action of the regular season, traveling to the Far East to open the 2004 season in Japan with a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome.

Dec. 18
Commissioner Bud Selig's 5 p.m. ET deadline passes and the A-Rod to Boston deal is all but dead. The Red Sox declare it so, but the Rangers continue to try to restructure A-Rod's contract themselves as a last-ditch effort.

Dec. 20
On the deadline for clubs to tender 2004 contracts, 58 players are granted free agency, flooding the market with even more unattached players. Several of those players not tendered contracts end up signing with the same club within the next couple of days, however.

Dec. 22
Another big free agent signs with Baltimore with catcher Javy Lopezagreeing to a three-year deal, leaving the Atlanta Braves and joining Tejada with the O's, who still covet a third big free agent in Vladimir Guerrero.

Dec. 23
Another deadline, and still no A-Rod deal. The 5 p.m. ET deadline set by Rangers owner Tom Hicks passes and the megadeal is dead -- again. At least until the next deadline is set.

John Schlegel is a reporter for Several reporters contributed to this story, which was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.