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Shopping season in full swing
Winter Meetings are relatively quiet
By Carrie Muskat /

Tom Glavine signs with the Mets for $35 million over three years.  (John-Marshall Mantel/AP)
The month of December is often prime shopping time, not just for holiday revelers but also for Major League teams as they set up their rosters for the next year. This December began rather quietly. Sure, the Philadelphia Phillies made a big splash by luring Jim Thome away from Cleveland -- that's why Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was spotted giving Phillies skipper Larry Bowa high fives at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Finally, the Twins didn't have to worry about Thome's big bat in the American League Central.

Tom Glavine bid farewell to Atlanta and the budget-conscious Montreal Expos tempted teams with their talented roster. The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee announcement of 26 players to be considered again for Cooperstown lifted the spirits of several old timers.

The movement picked up later in the month, with the Yankees reaching agreements with Japanese outfielder Hideki Matsui and Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras. Dec. 1
The month started on a sad note with news of death of former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dave McNally. He died in his hometown of Billings, Mont., at 60.

Dec. 2
Jim Thome, one of the top free agents on the market, severed ties with Cleveland and agreed to a six-year, $87.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The first baseman officially signed his new deal on Dec. 3. Veteran lefty reliever Mike Remlinger signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Dec. 3
The Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox exchanged closers. The A's send hard-throwing Billy Koch to the White Sox for Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson and minor-league pitcher Joe Valentine.

Dec. 4
The Orioles revamped their front office, naming Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan and former Expos general manager Jim Beattie to the job.

After batting a disappointing .199 in two seasons with his father's Chicago Cubs, Todd Hundley was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for first baseman Eric Karros and infielder Mark Grudzielanek.

December Multimedia Highlights
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Dec. 5
There were moves of all kinds on Dec. 5. Tom Glavine, who was wined and dined in New York and Philadelphia, decided to move to the Big Apple and signed with the Mets for $35 million over three years. Third baseman Robin Ventura accepted a pay cut and re-signed with the Yankees for $5 million. Right-handed power hitters got an early Christmas present from the Detroit Tigers. The team announced it will move the left center-field fences in by 25 feet at Comerica Park. St. Louis pitcher Andy Benes announced he is retiring.

Dec. 6
Frank Thomas no longer has to worry about diminished skills. The Chicago White Sox reworked Thomas' complicated contract and signed him to a new deal. Thomas agreed to a one-year contract for 2003 with three mutual options that could keep him in Chicago through 2006. He is guaranteed $22.5 million. Seattle re-signed first baseman John Olerud to a two-year, $15.4 million contract.

The Indians acquired pitcher Aaron Myette and infielder Travis Hefner from the Rangers for catcher Einar Diaz and pitcher Ryan Drese. The move led to speculation that Ivan Rodriguez's career in Texas is over.

Dec. 7
This was deadline day for teams to decide whether to offer salary arbitration to players. Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and Jeff Kent were offered salary arbitration by their old teams but the Rangers said goodbye to catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who made his Major League debut with the team as a 19-year-old. In all, 23 players were offered arbitration.

Ray Durham moved across San Francisco Bay and signs with the Giants. He was one of 13 free agents who signed on this day, agreeing to a three-year, $20.1 million deal. The Giants also signed outfielder Marquis Grissom to a two-year, $4.25 million contract.

Left-hander Jamie Moyer got a $15.5 million, three-year contract to stay in Seattle. And just before the midnight deadline, the Mets agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract with pitcher Steve Trachsel.

Dec. 9
Tom Glavine thought he'd never leave Atlanta but he donned a black No. 47 jersey and officially joined the Mets in a news conference at Shea Stadium. Fans braved the cold and waited outside Shea to welcome the lefty.

Play was suspended in the Venezuelan league because of political unrest in the country. Some American players flew home.

Dec. 10
Pete Rose dominated the baseball newswires. There were reports that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig met with Rose in November to discuss the all-time hits leader's ban from baseball. The Padres signed free agent infielder Dave Hansen and pitcher Jaret Wright.

Dec. 11
The Brewers signed free-agent shortstop Royce Clayton, who had been with the White Sox, to a one-year contract.

Dec. 12
The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee announced the 26 names which will be on the ballot for living Hall of Famers to vote on for entry to Cooperstown. Gil Hodges, Ron Santo, Roger Maris, Maury Wills and Vada Pinson are among the names getting another chance. An accompanying composite ballot of 15 non-playing personnel is headlined by Marvin Miller, who helped shape the game in his role as executive director of the players union.

The Yankees signed free agent pitcher Chris Hammond, who had been with the Braves, to a two-year contract.

Dec. 13
Baseball's Winter Meetings officially opened at the expansive Opryland Hotel and the focus of attention was the Montreal Expos. Instead of being the subject of contraction this year, baseball was waiting for the Expos to decide which players it wanted to move to trim payroll. There were so many requests for interviews that Montreal general manager Omar Minaya held court in the main pressroom. However, it was a slow first day. Left-handed pitcher Randy Wolf agreed to a four-year contract with the Phillies for $22.5 million and the Cardinals signed pitcher Chris Carpenter to a one-year contract.

Dec. 14
The Winter Meetings moved at a snail's pace in terms of transactions although there was plenty of activity in the giant atriums of the Opryland as scouts, general managers and agents jockeyed for the best deal. Rumors flew with names such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Miguel Tejada offered as trade bait.

Dec. 15
Oakland general manager Billy Beane finally pocketed his "Holy Grail" and acquired first baseman Erubiel Durazo from the Diamondbacks as part of a four-team trade. The A's dealt pitcher Jason Arnold to the Blue Jays who sent infielder Felipe Lopez to the Reds. The D-Backs got pitcher Elmer Dessens, who was projected as No. 3 behind Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

The Red Sox acquired first baseman/outfielder Jeremy Giambi from the Phillies. The Devil Rays and new manager Lou Piniella acquired shortstop Rey Ordonez -- now a "Devil Rey" -- from the Mets for infielder Russ Johnson and first baseman Josh Presley. The Giants signed free agent infielder Edgardo Alfonzo to a four-year deal, creating speculation that Jeff Kent is not likely to return to San Francisco.

The Cardinals traded reliever Luther Hackman and a minor leaguer to the Padres for pitcher Brett Tomko. And the Orioles signed free agent shortstop Deivi Cruz to a one-year contract.

Dec. 16
Mike Stanton, who pitched for the Yankees, didn't want to leave New York so he moved to Queens and signed a three-year contract with the Mets. "This is where I wanted to be," Stanton said. ... The Braves acquired left-hander Ray King from the Brewers for first baseman Wes Helms and pitcher John Foster. ... The Padres add three infielders, signing free agent Mark Loretta and trading for Luis Cruz from Boston and Jose Flores from Oakland.

In the Rule V draft at the Winter Meetings, the Reds selected pitcher Luke Prokopec from the Dodgers. It was a curious choice since Prokopec was not expected to pitch in 2003 because of an injury. The Dodgers once considered the Australian native as one of their top prospects. Also, the Twins released designated hitter David Ortiz to make room on the roster for shortstop Jose Morban, who was selected in the draft. Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan had tried to trade Ortiz at the meetings.

General managers met and discussed raising the minimum age of bat boys to 14. That means Dusty Baker's son Darren will have to wait 10 years before he can pick up pine tar in big-league games. The 3 1/2-year-old's near accident at home plate in Game 5 of the World Series prompted baseball to set an age limit.

The Winter Meetings closed with only five significant trades taking place and seven free agents agreeing to deals for about $40 million. Expos general manager Omar Minaya left with his roster intact. "I would have liked to get a deal done," he said. Minaya was still talking to teams about dealing pitcher Bartolo Colon, a 20-game winner in 2002.

Dec. 17
The Braves wrapped up their holiday shopping by acquiring pitcher Russ Ortiz from the Giants for pitcher Damian Moss and minor-league pitcher Manuel Mateo. Several hours later, the Braves signed pitcher Paul Byrd to a two-year, $10 million contract.

Dec. 18
The Astros made a big splash in the free agent market by signing Jeff Kent to a two-year contract.

Dec. 19
It's official. Godzilla is headed for New York. The Yankees announced that they have reached an understanding with Japanese outfielder Hideki Matsui on the structure of a three-year contract worth $21 million plus performance bonuses.

Dec. 20
In a flurry of action before the non-tender deadline, 46 players were not tendered contracts. The Phillies pulled off a stunning swap with the Braves, acquiring right-hander Kevin Millwood for catcher Johnny Estrada. Another NL East team got in on the action when the Mets reached an agreement with Cliff Floyd.

The Dodgers made sure that at least one team besides those on the Eastern seaboard was active. They lured free-agent Fred McGriff to the West coast.

Dec. 22
The Rangers picked up Ugueth Urbina, while the Giants signed Neifi Perez.

Dec. 24
The Yankees reached an understanding on the structure of a four-year contract with free-agent right-handed pitcher Jose Contreras. Not wanting to let their AL East rivals make all the moves, the Red Sox agreed to terms with Mike Timlin and Chad Fox.

Dec. 29
Thirty-two years of history were reduced to rubble in less than 38 seconds when Cinergy Field was imploded in Cincinnati. Watch the implosion. Much later that day, the Red Sox signed Ramiro Mendoza to a two-year contract. Mendoza said he was happy to join the team.

Dec. 30
The Yankees made more news during the end of the year, when they signed pitcher Roger Clemens to a one-year contract.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.