CLEVELAND -- Reliever Arthur Rhodes was traded for the
second time in two weeks Saturday, sent from the Pittsburgh Pirates
to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Matt Lawton in the first
trade of the winter meetings.
Rhodes, a 35-year-old left-hander, was acquired by Pittsburgh
from Oakland on Nov. 27 in the trade that sent catcher Jason Kendall to the Athletics. Rhodes lost his closer's job last season
while going 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA for the A's. He will become Bob Wickman's setup man in Cleveland.
"There were a multitude of things that happened to him to
explain why he had a bad year. We're still hopeful he's going to be
a strong, solid contributor in the bullpen," Cleveland general
manager Mark Shapiro said.
Lawton was a huge disappointment with the Indians, who acquired
him in the 2001 trade that sent Roberto Alomar to the New York
The 33-year-old battled injuries during much of his three
seasons in Cleveland. With the Indians having a surplus of young
outfielders, Lawton's playing time may have been mostly limited to
DH next season.
"Matt Lawton, right field, we didn't think was his best fit.
This gives us a chance to improve as a team defensively," Shapiro
The team wanted to trade Lawton last season, but couldn't find
anyone willing to take on his salary.
Lawton, who made $7.25 million in 2004 and will make the same
amount next season, batted .270 with 20 homers and 70 RBIs in 150
games last season. He also had 23 steals but was caught nine times.
After trading Kendall, Pittsburgh was looking for a new leadoff
hitter. Lawton will fill a need at a corner spot in the outfield,
too, and the Pirates are confident he can stay healthy.
"He's got some power, a left-handed hitter, it adds some nice
balance to our offense," general manager Dave Littlefield said.
"We're a team that's trying to improve. This will give us some
The Pirates will take on some extra salary with Lawton, but they
shed $6.2 million over the next two years by dealing Rhodes and
they already saved about $15 million over the next three by trading
Kendall, who is owed $34 million over the next three seasons.
Rhodes gives the Indians a reliable left-hander in a bullpen
that gave up many late-inning leads last season and converted only
32 of 60 save chances.
"Certainly experience is something that's going to improve us
in the bullpen," Shapiro said.
The Indians are still in the market for a starter and have
offered a three-year deal to Matt Clement.
Rhodes has two seasons and about $6 million left on his $9.2
million, three-year deal. He was a costly luxury to the Pirates,
who already have one outstanding left-handed reliever in Mike
Gonzalez and two promising ones in John Grabow and Mike Johnston.
"His salary was pretty significant for the role we see him
at," Littlefield said.
Each team will send cash to the other as part of the deal.