Mets back in Delgado hunt; Clark to D-Backs, Aurilia to Reds

Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2005

NEW YORK — The New York Mets were back in the bidding for Carlos Delgado on Monday, competing with Florida and Baltimore to sign the free-agent first baseman.

After the Mets told Delgado on Sunday that they needed to have a decision by the end of the night, agent David Sloane said New York had withdrawn, a statement that puzzled the Mets, who said they were waiting to hear back.

On Monday, the sides started talking again.

''I spoke to the Marlins, Mets and Orioles today regarding our respective proposals,'' Sloane said in an e-mail. ''Carlos and I also talked about all three offers. There will be further discussion tomorrow with all the concerned parties.''

Texas, which had offered a $48 million, four-year contract, withdrew Sunday, with Delgado saying he wasn't prepared to be a designated hitter most of the time.

Other players did make their picks Monday. First baseman Tony Clark agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract with his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. Clark, 32, appeared in 106 games and started 64 for the New York Yankees last season, hitting .221 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs.

Rich Aurilia and the Reds agreed to a minor league contract that gives the 33-year-old former All-Star the chance to become Cincinnati's starting shortstop. He would get a $600,000, one-year contract if he is added to the major league roster.

''I still think I offer a lot as an everyday player,'' Aurilia said. ''I'm not thinking I'm going to be just a backup guy.''

Ben Grieve agreed Monday to a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will give the 1998 AL Rookie of the Year a shot at making their increasingly crowded outfield. He would get a $500,000, one-year contract if the Pirates add him to their big league roster.

''He's got some experience, and we have quite a few young guys so he should be a big help,'' general manager Dave Littlefield said. ''In the past he's been very productive, although not as much recently, and he gives us another alternative.''

Three players in salary arbitration settled, leaving 31 players scheduled for hearings next month.

Right-hander Brad Penny, obtained by Los Angeles from Florida last summer, agreed to a $5.1 million, one-year deal with the Dodgers. Penny was 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 11 2-3 innings for Los Angeles before he was sidelined Aug. 9 due to a nerve problem in his pitching arm.

''We believe Brad can be one of the top young pitchers in the National League,'' Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. ''Dodger fans have only begun to see his ability.''

Right-hander Jake Westbrook, who became an All-Star for Cleveland last year, agreed to a $7.5 million, two-year contract, and Pittsburgh utilityman Rob Mackowiak agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year deal.

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