NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees began reshaping their
roster Friday, sending outfielder Kenny Lofton and more than $1.5
million to the Philadelphia Phillies for setup man Felix Rodriguez
and also reacquiring Mike Stanton from the Mets.
Stunned by Boston in the AL Championship Series, the Yankees are
expected to make bigger moves later in the offseason, with
free-agent center fielder Carlos Beltran and Arizona ace Randy
Johnson figuring to be their top targets.
"The winter is not complete yet," Yankees general manager
Brian Cashman said.
The Yankees got Stanton and $975,000 from the Mets for Felix
Heredia in a swap of left-handed relievers. Stanton waived his
no-trade clause to rejoin his former team.
"Everybody wants to play for the Yankees," Rodriguez said.
Lofton, 37, will be going to his ninth major league team. A
six-time All-Star earlier in his career, he hit .275 with seven
stolen bases in 83 games in his only season with New York.
"It's been very tough. I'm the type of guy that likes to be
settled down," he said on a conference call. "It's been very
tough the last three or four years.
"Everybody in New York understood I wanted to play. I just
wanted to have an opportunity to perform and be part of the team,"
he said. "I didn't feel as much a part of the team."
"A player like Kenny is a big step forward for us," Wade said.
"Going into spring training, we believe Kenny is our center
fielder and will be a catalyst for this club."
The Yankees still have Bernie Williams to play center, though he
could wind up as the designated hitter -- or even perhaps their
first baseman -- if they're able to sign Beltran.
Rodriguez, 32, was 5-8 with one save in 76 games for San
Francisco and Philadelphia last season. The Giants traded him to
the Phillies for outfielder Ricky Ledee and a minor league pitcher
in late July.
Rodriguez joins a deep bullpen, but one that struggled after the
Yankees won the first three games of the ALCS. The righty went 25-9
from 2001-03, and helped pitch the Giants into the 2002 World
"It didn't surprise me that much. I heard they were
interested," Rodriguez said.
In fact, Cashman said he tried to get Rodriguez from the Giants
last season for Lofton.
Lofton will make $3.1 million next year and Rodriguez is due
$3.15 million. The Yankees gave $1,525,000 to the Phillies.
Stanton was a dependable setup man in the Yankees' bullpen
during their World Series years from 1998-2001.
After the 2002 season, Yankees management made similar contract
offers to Stanton and free-agent relievers Chris Hammond and Mark
Guthrie -- the first one to accept got the job.
Stanton was given about 15 minutes to make his decision. Hammond
took the deal, and Stanton wound up signing with the Mets.
Stanton spoke to Cashman this week before agreeing to the trade.
"I've always said it could have been handled maybe a little
better, a bit differently," Stanton said. "Bottom line was they
felt like they needed to make a move then and they did.
"There's no extra baggage that comes with that. I understand
the business of baseball. People change their minds," he said.
"It's obviously not going to be a huge change for me. There's not
going to be a whole lot over there that I haven't seen or been
Stanton went 2-7 in his first year with the Mets. At 37, he went
2-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 83 games last season.
"I don't think he's the same pitcher as he was in 2002, but we
hope he can give us a better result than Felix," Cashman said.
Stanton will make $4 million next year. Heredia will make $1.85
"It's really about financial flexibility," Mets GM Omar Minaya
said. "The arm is still there. It's worth taking a chance."
Heredia, 29, was 1-1 with a 6.28 ERA in 47 games this year. The
Yankees got him in the middle of the 2003 season in a trade with
Cincinnati, but he never found his rhythm in New York.