A-Rod trade on hold, Vizquel deal fizzles

Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2003

NEW YORK Alex Rodriguez was still in Texas for now, at least after the players' union rejected the reworking of his contract Wednesday and held up a trade to Boston. Omar Vizquel is still in Cleveland, too.

A few deals got done, with catcher Eddie Perez returning to Atlanta, backup catcher Kelly Stinnett going to Kansas City and pitcher Al Levine heading to Detroit.

On a day in which the New York Yankees finally finalized their deal with Gary Sheffield, the biggest baseball news continued to revolve around A-Rod.

Boston and Texas already had settled on a trade, and the Red Sox and Rodriguez agreed to restructure the shortstop's contract.

But in a rare move, the union intervened and rejected changes to Rodriguez's $252 million contract, which were needed before the Rangers could send the AL MVP to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez.

Commissioner Bud Selig set a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline for the trade to be completed. He might also go against the union and approve the restructuring, likely forcing the matter to arbitration.

If the deal does go through, Boston would likely trade longtime shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, possibly to the Chicago White Sox.

''Given the impending deadline imposed by the office of the commissioner, the actions of the players' association may, unfortunately, determine this issue,'' Rangers owner Tom Hicks said.

The commissioner's office said it was studying the agreement between Rodriguez and the Red Sox, but Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official, said it was unacceptable.

''It was clear it crossed the line ... and by a huge margin,'' Orza said after meeting with Rodriguez, his agent and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. ''We did suggest an offer the club could make to Alex that would not do that. As was its right, the club chose not to make it.''

For Vizquel, the one team he was willing to go to didn't want him. So, the proposed shortstop swap sending Vizquel to the Mariners for Carlos Guillen is off.

''I expect him to be our opening day shortstop,'' Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Vizquel had waived his no-trade clause and only needed to pass a routine physical exam to complete the deal. At 36, Vizquel was excited about playing in the city where he became known for his defensive skill.

But after putting him through drills and a medical checkup at Safeco Field on Tuesday, the Mariners apparently were concerned about the condition of Vizquel's surgically repaired right knee and called off the deal.

''There were a lot of complicated issues,'' Seattle assistant GM Lee Pelekoudas said. ''That's as far as we can go with it. The player was never our property. To go into any greater details would be inappropriate.''

Perez, the backup catcher for the Braves in seven division-winning seasons, agreed to a $1.25 million, two-year contract to rejoin the team.

Stinnett and the Royals agreed on a one-year contract for $500,000, pending a physical. Stinnett, 33, played with Cincinnati and Philadelphia last year, hitting a combined .237 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 67 games.

Levine and the Tigers agreed to a one-year contract that guarantees him $925,000. The 35-year-old reliever was 3-6 with a 2.79 ERA in 54 games for Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

Also, reliever John Franco re-signed with the New York Mets for his 15th season with the club. The 43-year-old left-hander, second with 424 career saves, agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract with bonuses for appearances and games finished. He was 0-3 in 38 games with a 2.62 ERA last season.

Sheffield completed agreement on his $39 million, three-year contract with the Yankees. Detroit finalized $6 million, two-year deals with second baseman Fernando Vina and outfielder Rondell White, and Seattle finished its $9.15 million, three-year contract with first baseman Scott Spiezio.

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