Freaking Jaret Wright? Good Luck
Yankees close in on deal with pitcher Jaret Wright
By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer
December 8, 2004
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jaret Wright and the Yankees closed in on a three-year contract Tuesday night worth $20 million to $21 million, the first major move by New York to revamp its aging rotation.
The Yankees also reached a preliminary agreement with Tony Womack on a $4 million, two-year contract, giving New York a starting second baseman to replace Miguel Cairo.
While no announcements were made, both deals were confirmed by a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Womack's deal was subject to him passing a physical. After undergoing elbow surgery before last season, the speedy leadoff hitter helped the St. Louis Cardinals reach the World Series, batting .307 with 26 stolen bases and 91 runs.
Wright, who will turn 29 on Dec. 29, went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA in a big comeback season with the Atlanta Braves this year, but he lost both his starts in the playoffs.
New York offered salary arbitration to Jon Lieber and Orlando Hernandez before Tuesday's midnight deadline, giving the team until Jan. 8 to re-sign two key members of last season's rotation. However, Lieber appeared headed for Cleveland or Philadelphia.
The AL East champions also offered arbitration to switch-hitter Ruben Sierra but turned their attention to Womack instead of trying to bring back Cairo, a pleasant surprise as the starter down the stretch.
``We're going in another direction,'' general manager Brian Cashman said.
The Yankees declined to offer arbitration to six other free agents: first basemen John Olerud, Tony Clark and Travis Lee, right-hander Esteban Loaiza, infielder Enrique Wilson and left-hander C.J. Nitkowski. Olerud's departure might lead to New York signing Tino Martinez.
Players not offered arbitration cannot re-sign with their former teams until May 1, so they'll almost certainly end up elsewhere. Those offered arbitration have until Dec. 19 to accept and may re-sign through Jan. 8.
Lieber and Hernandez were two of New York's most consistent pitchers in the second half of 2004, but the rest of the rotation struggled for much of the season.
The team declined its $8 million option on Lieber last month, and he filed for free agency. New York has said it wants to re-sign the 33-year-old right-hander, probably to a two- or three-year contract.