LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. (AP) - Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Reynolds and Shaun Marcum switched leagues Monday as teams started trading at baseball’s winter meetings. Cliff Lee’s agent showed up, too, but said no telling when his prize pitcher might sign.
To Pat Gillick, this was truly the biggest deal of the day, and of his career: The 73-year-old executive whose moves helped build three World Series champions was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Often, it takes a few days at this annual gathering for any real action. This time, it was brisk from the get-go.
“Now that everybody is here in the same facility, the atmosphere is ripe to push through some things,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
The Boston Red Sox completed their trade for Gonzalez, getting the All-Star first baseman from San Diego for minor league pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named.
Baltimore added a big bat _ and a bunch of strikeouts _ by acquiring Reynolds from Arizona for right-handed relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.
The Milwaukee Brewers boosted their rotation, getting right-hander Shaun Marcum from the Toronto Blue Jays for Canadian infield prospect Brett Lawrie.
“A lot of agents are claiming that their players are going to sign this week. Some will and some won’t,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said. “There could be a run on starting pitching this week.”
Whether Lee is among the pitchers who make that decision remains uncertain. Agent Darek Braunecker met with Cashman _ the Yankees hope to lure the ace lefty, while Texas is trying to re-sign him. Other teams are interested, but their pursuits aren’t nearly so public.
“There’s always clubs that kind of lay in the weeds,” Braunecker said. “To me, you’re talking about the best player on the market. There’s still, certainly, a need for starting pitching that stems beyond the clubs that have been mentioned so far.”
At an interview session, Texas manager Ron Washington was asked to name his five starters for 2011. “Cliff Lee,” he said, laughing.
A day after Washington gave free agent outfielder Jayson Werth a whopping $126 million, seven-year deal, several teams took the trade route.
The Red Sox got the 28-year-old Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover. He hit .298 with 31 homers and 101 RBIs last season.
“I’m very excited to be in Boston and ready to beat the Yanks,” Gonzalez said at Fenway Park.
San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer, who previously worked for the Red Sox under GM Theo Epstein, said the Padres were sure they wouldn’t have been able to sign Gonzalez after 2011. So, they decided to make a deal now, rather than risk waiting until next summer.
“There’s plenty of examples of trades at the deadline where a team didn’t get nearly what they thought they’d get simply because the market didn’t develop or because of injuries,” Hoyer said. “With that in mind, I felt like this was the right time to do it.”
Reynolds is taking his big swings to Baltimore. There is no doubt the third baseman can hit the ball a long way _ when he hits it, that is.
Reynolds has averaged nearly 35 homers for the last three years. He’s also struck out over 200 times in each of those seasons _ those are the three highest strikeout totals in major league history.
“He brings some things we don’t have,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You can find negatives on any player. We certainly like his contact-to-damage ratio. We’re going to dwell on all the positive things he does.”
The Brewers were thrilled to get Marcum, who started for the Blue Jays on opening day last season and went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA. The trade certainly carried a Canadian theme _ Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin and Toronto counterpart Alex Anthopoulos both were born north of the border.
Though he traded away Lawrie, a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team, Melvin kidded he held onto some valuable things from his country.
“I still have my Justin Bieber posters on the wall,” Melvin said, a nod to the Canadian teen pop star.
Other names in circulation: San Francisco might become interested in Tampa Bay’s Jason Bartlett to fill their shortstop hole, the Cubs hired Mark Riggans as their pitching coach and the New York Mets interviewed Andy Van Slyke as a possible hitting coach.
Gillick built World Series champions in Toronto in 1992-93 and won another crown with Philadelphia in 2008.
At 73, he’s spent a half-century in baseball.
“I never felt I had a job. I love going to work every day,” he said.
Former players’ union head Marvin Miller fell one vote short. George Steinbrenner finished far behind _ “some people thought it’s too early,” Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, a member of the committee, said of the late New York Yankees owner.
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