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Juan Gonzalez opts for Texas as last signing deadline passes

Posted: Wednesday, January 09, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Eight free agents, including Juan Gonzalez, cut ties with their former teams Tuesday as the last free-agent deadline of the offseason passed.

Just three players facing the deadline re-signed. Pitcher Ricky Bottalico agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with Philadelphia; infielder Keith Lockhart agreed to a minor league contract with Atlanta that will pay him $600,000 if he's added to the Braves' major league roster; and infielder Luis Sojo agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees for $350,000 if he is added to their major league roster.

Gonzalez, the only premier player who faced the deadline, agreed to a $24 million, two-year contract with the Texas Rangers, spurning an offer from the New York Mets that was $1 million higher. He hadn't spoken in recent weeks with his former team, the Cleveland Indians.

Others who didn't re-sign were pitchers Brian Bohanon (Colorado), Pete Harnisch (Cincinnati), Dan Miceli (Colorado), Josias Manzanillo (Pittsburgh) and Mark Wohlers (New York Yankees); outfielder Ron Gant (Oakland); and first baseman Ron Coomer (Chicago Cubs).

Free agents who have not signed by Jan. 8 are ineligible to re-sign with their former teams until May 1.

Sojo, among the favorite players in the Yankees' clubhouse, had said he might retire.

''He wants to end his career as a Yankee,'' New York general manager Brian Cashman said. ''If he doesn't make the club, he'll retire -- that's what they're telling me.''

Sojo, 36, hit .165 with nine RBIs in 39 games last season, going 13-for-79. He was a member of the Yankees' World Series championship teams in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Among players eligible for salary arbitration, All-Star first baseman Sean Casey agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

Casey, 27, hit .310 with 13 home runs and 89 RBI's last season and led the Reds in games played (145) and seven offensive categories.

Players have until Jan. 15 to file for arbitration. Teams and players exchange proposed salaries three days later.



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