Marlins deal Pierre to Cubs for three pitchers

DALLAS -- The Florida Marlins likely finished their salary
purge on Wednesday, sending center fielder Juan Pierre to the
Chicago Cubs for right-hander Sergio Mitre and Double-A pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto.

The only high-priced players remaining on the Marlins roster are
22-game winner Dontrelle Willis and slugger Miguel Cabrera, who are
eligible for salary arbitration for the first time but not expected
to be traded. Pierre is eligible for salary arbitration and
expected to make $5 million to $6 million in 2006.

"I can guarantee you that Miguel Cabrera will be in the
lineup," new Marlins manager Joe Girardi said, referring to his
team's youthful slugger, who is not eligible for arbitration until
after next season. "Other than that,
there aren't a whole lot of guarantees."

The 28-year-old Pierre batted .276 with 181 hits, 96 runs and 57
stolen bases last season -- which he described as "an embarrassing
year, a very disappointing year" during a conference call with

Pierre gives the Cubs the leadoff hitter they lacked in 2005,
when they finished fourth, 21 games behind the Cardinals, with a
79-83 record that was their first losing season in three years.

"He puts pressure on the opposition," Cubs manager Dusty Baker
said. "He brings a different dimension to our lineup so we can
play small ball and set up the guys behind him to play long ball as

The Cubs also agreed to terms with veteran left-handed hitter
John Mabry on a one-year, $1.075 million contract on Wednesday.

With his speed and left-handed bat, the Cubs had hoped Corey Patterson would develop into a leadoff hitter. But the third
overall pick in the 1998 amateur draft was a bust at the top of the
order, and was even sent back to Triple-A Iowa for more seasoning.

He hit just .215 last year with 118 strikeouts, and his on-base
percentage was only .254. He didn't have much luck bunting, either.

And the Cubs didn't have anyone in the system to replace him.

"It was a priority," general manager Jim Hendry said.
"There's a lot of clubs just lacking that bona fide leadoff
hitter. We knew the competition was very tough.

"It's no secret we chased Rafael Furcal hard. And even if we
got him we would have chased Juan Pierre hard."

Pierre seemed relieved that the deal was completed.

"It's been a couple weeks here just wondering, waiting to see
where I'd go," he said. "The last week, it seems like it's been a
different team everyday. But I'm definitely excited to be a Chicago

Watching the dismantling of the Marlins was not easy for Pierre.

"Guys you build friendships with and bond with, you see them
getting picked off one by one and you know that you're gonna be one
of them; it's just a matter of when and where," he said. "The
situation here is bad. I'm looking forward to being a Cub. Every
year, they're in the thick of things. They do what it takes to be
competitive. I'm just excited to go out and play in front of 40,000
fans everyday."

In all, the Marlins have cut about $45 million in 2006 payroll
after starting last year at $60 million. Leaving through trade or
free agency are: Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett, Paul Lo Duca, Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, Guillermo Mota and Carlos Delgado.

Other Marlins free agents not expected to be re-signed include
outfielder Jeff Conine, second baseman Damion Easley and shortstop
Alex Gonzalez.

"I'm glad I'm not down there any more. Fire sales are always
tough," Burnett said Tuesday after agreeing to a five-year, $55
million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. "They'd better teach
Dontrelle how to play all nine positions."

Girardi said he would make sure Willis didn't try to do too

"My expectation for him is to be a leader. From everything I
know, and from talking to him, he already is a leader," Girardi
said. "So I just want him to be himself. Don't try to do too much,
because I'm not going to let him."

Mitre was 2-5 with a 5.37 ERA in 60 1-3 innings. Pinto, a lefty,
was 10-3 with a 2.71 ERA in Double-A and Nolasco, a righty, was
14-3 with a 2.89 ERA, also with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.

"We have an abundance of young starters," Girardi said.
"Other teams would probably like to have eight veterans, but we
have eight young starters. They have the ability to push each