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Marlins to deal Hampton to Atlanta, source says

Posted: Monday, November 18, 2002

MIAMI -- Mike Hampton will try to rejuvenate his career with the Braves after a whirlwind weekend that had the left-hander dealt from Colorado to Florida and then to Atlanta.

The Marlins will get reliever Tim Spooneybarger from the Braves for Hampton, a baseball source said on condition of anonymity Sunday. The source said details must be finalized, the trade must be approved by the commissioner's office, and the players must pass physicals.

Florida will also reportedly receive an unidentified minor leaguer from Atlanta.

Hampton, who went 21-28 for the Rockies the past two seasons, was part of a six-player swap between Colorado and Florida that was completed Saturday.

In that deal, Hampton and outfielder Juan Pierre moved to the Marlins, while catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Preston Wilson, left-handed reliever Vic Darensbourg and second base prospect Pablo Ozuna went to the Rockies.

Florida reportedly agreed to pay about $38 million of the salary remaining on Hampton's lucrative contract. The Braves tried to sign Hampton two years ago before the Rockies gave him an eight-year, $121 million free-agent deal -- the richest ever for a pitcher.

The Rockies will pay $11 million of Hampton's remaining salary, plus a $19 million deferred signing bonus. The Braves will owe Hampton about $35.5 million over the next three years, with the Rockies and Marlins paying off the final three years of the deal.

The acquisition of Hampton may end the Braves' interest in re-signing free-agent lefty Tom Glavine, who has spent his entire 16-year career in Atlanta. The Braves could also decide not to sign free-agent right-hander Greg Maddux.

On Sunday, Glavine attended an NHL game at Philips Arena, where he has a private box. He declined comment on what the trade might mean for his future with the Braves.

Like many previous pitchers, Hampton was a bust in Denver's thin air. After a 9-2 start with Colorado in 2001, Hampton went 12-26 with a 6.62 ERA for the Rockies. The 30-year-old left-hander was 7-15 this year with a 6.15 ERA, the highest in the major leagues among pitchers who qualified for the ERA title.

For the Marlins, the trade means they'll keep their core of young players intact and still meet next season's projected payroll limit of $47 million. They have 12 arbitration-eligible players, including second baseman Luis Castillo and first baseman Derrek Lee.

Despite paying a large part of Hampton's salary, the cost-conscious Marlins will save money in the short term by making the trade. That's because Johnson and Wilson both have three years remaining on their contracts, with Johnson owed $25 million and Wilson owed $27.5 million.

In Castillo and Pierre, the Marlins would have baseball's top base stealers at the top of the lineup.



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