tampabay.com

Lugo's future may hinge on Tejada, Boston talks

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published December 30, 2005


Whether Julio Lugo remains the Devil Rays shortstop or is traded to the Red Sox appears contingent, to a degree, on whether Boston can work a trade for disgruntled Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman declined comment on what other teams are doing and how the permutations could affect Tampa Bay.

"As we've been saying," he said Thursday, "if a trade presents itself that makes sense for what we're trying to do now, and in the future, that will be something we're prepared to do."

So, let's connect some dots.

If the Red Sox don't land Tejada for their vacant shortstop position (the Boston Globe reported they offered leftfielder Manny Ramirez and pitcher Matt Clement), they could sign former Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez, the best option among remaining free agents. But it is difficult to believe Boston wants Gonzalez more than Lugo, who is a better hitter and bats leadoff.

It also is possible, if the Red Sox get desperate enough, they will cough up prized third-base prospect Andy Marte, over whom the Rays are salivating. So, assume Tampa Bay and Boston are talking.

Another potential trading partner is the Mets, who apparently like Lugo and reliever Danys Baez. Tampa Bay likely wants pitcher Aaron Heilman in return.

Friedman wouldn't bite when asked about the scenarios.

"We've got some holes we're looking to fill, but we're happy with the way the team is taking form right now," he said. "We like the way we're coming together and continuing to build off the success of (last season's) second half."

Dotel, Yankees agree

Reliever Octavio Dotel agreed to a one-year, $2-million contract with the Yankees after beginning last season with Oakland but not pitching past May because of Tommy John surgery. Dotel, 32 and a free agent, joins a bullpen that was erratic all season. He will earn another $250,000 once added to the active major-league roster.

The right-hander was 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 15 games for Oakland in 2005 before placed on the disabled list May 19 and having surgery on his right elbow.

He limited opposing batters to a .185 average and held right-handed hitters to just three hits in 28 at-bats (.107). He has 481 strikeouts in 3892/3 innings as reliever since the 2001 season, the most in the majors.

Dotel has played parts of seven seasons with the Mets (1999), Astros (2000-04) and Athletics (2004-05).

BOROWSKI, REESE TO MARLINS: Infielder Pokey Reese and right-hander Joe Borowski agreed to one-year contracts.

Borowski went 1-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 43 games last season for the Cubs and Devil Rays. He did not allow a run in his first 20 appearances with Tampa Bay after joining the team during the All-Star break, surrendering seven hits during that time and holding opponents to a .109 average while walking just two. He ended the year 1-5 with a 3.82 ERA in 461/3 innings, and is 14-23 with 44 saves and a 3.90 ERA in nine seasons in the majors. Details of his contract were not reported.

Reese, a two-time Gold Glove winner, will make about $800,000. He has batted .248 with 44 home runs and 271 RBIs over eight seasons in the majors.

NATIONALS: Right-handers Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas agreed to one-year deals. Ortiz signed for $2.5-million. Armas will earn $2.1-million.

ORIOLES: Elrod Hendricks was remembered as a "kind, wonderful person" at a funeral in Baltimore attended by thousands in honor of the man who spent nearly four decades as an Orioles player and coach. Baseball stars Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken and Lee May were among those in attendance. Hendricks died Dec. 21 of a heart attack at 64.

PIRATES: Pittsburgh, which lost out on signing free agent Bill Mueller, were close to agreement on a $4-million, one-year contract with Joe Randa. The team held off announcing the signing until it reviewed results of a physical the 36-year-old Randa took Wednesday. Randa played third base on the only Pirates team in 13 years to contend for a division title.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.