Mets exercise option on Trachsel

New York Mets: Closer Braden Looper's $5.5 million option was declined Monday by the Mets, who will pay the reliever a $250,000 buyout. New York also exercised right-hander Steve Trachsel's $2.5 million option and declined a $4 million option on first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who gets a $450,000 buyout.

"Even though we declined Braden's option, we still plan on having conversations with his agent," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said.

Looper went 4-7 with a 3.94 ERA and 28 saves in 36 chances and had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Oct. 3, the day after the season ended. The Mets might decide not to re-sign Looper and land another closer.

Trachsel missed most of the season following back surgery in March and went 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA.

Mientkiewicz, acquired from Boston last winter after the Mets failed to sign free-agent Carlos Delgado, hit .240 with 11 homers and 29 RBI.

New York also activated outfielder Mike Cameron, right-handers Bartolome Fortunato and Tyler Yates, left-hander Felix Heredia and
infielder Jeff Keppinger from the 60-day disabled list.

Also Monday, infielder Jose Offerman filed for free agency.

Chicago Cubs: Versatile pitcher Glendon Rusch got a raise.

Rusch agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with the Cubs on Monday, replacing a $2 million option he had for next season. The left-hander will get $2.75 million next season and $3.25 million in 2007, and he could earn up to $500,000 each season in performance bonuses.

"Glendon wanted to re-sign with them. He didn't want to go anywhere else," said Tommy Tanzer, Rusch's agent. "He loves pitching for Dusty [Baker], and [pitching coach Larry Rothschild] and [bullpen coach] Dick Pole, and he loves playing for Jim Hendry."

Rusch has been the ultimate utility player for the Cubs the last two years, moving back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation and giving the team flexibility when Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were hurt. He is 11-9 with a 3.94 ERA in 35 starts over the last two seasons and 4-1 with two saves and a 4.30 ERA in 43 relief appearances.

St. Louis Cardinals: Left-handed reliever Randy Flores had surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow.

Flores, 30, was operated on Friday at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, the Cardinals said. He is expected to begin throwing in six to eight weeks and be fully recovered by the time the Cardinals report to Jupiter, Fla., in mid-February, team spokesman Brian Bartow said.

With Ray King's return uncertain after he criticized manager Tony La Russa for failing to use him during the postseason, Flores may be the only returning left-handed reliever. He was 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 50 appearances in 2005.

Right-hander Al Reyes had reconstructive surgery Oct. 18 to repair a torn elbow ligament that had pulled off the bone.

Former team physician Dr. George Paletta operated on Reyes and said the injury was among the worst he has seen among 200 elbow reconstructions. Reyes is expected to miss nine to 12 months.

Reyes, 35, was probably the Cardinals' best middle reliever this year, going 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 65 appearances. He allowed no runs in his final 11 appearances.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The team picked up one-year options on closer Danys Baez and shortstop Julio Lugo.

Coming off a career-high 41 saves last season, Baez will make $4 million next year. The team could have given him a $1 million buyout.

One of the game's most effective closers in the second half last season, Baez had said he hoped to return to the Devil Rays, though he was the subject of much trade speculation. He was the team's lone All-Star last year, finishing 4-5 with a 2.86 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. The 31-year-old Baez has 71 saves for Tampa Bay in two seasons, second-most in club history behind Roberto Hernandez (101) and tied for the sixth-most in the majors during that span.

Lugo's deal called for a $4.95 million salary or a $100,000 buyout.

Lugo has been the Devil Rays' everyday shortstop since he signed as a free agent in May 2003. Last season, he batted a career-high .295 while also establishing career bests in games played (158), hits (182), walks (61) and stolen bases (39). Lugo also had six home runs and 57 RBI in 2005. He is only the fifth Devil Rays player to reach 180 hits in a season.

Los Angeles Angels: The team declined its option on reliever Jason Christiansen.

The team passed up Christiansen's $1,525,000 option and will pay a $125,000 buyout. The 36-year-old left-hander was 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 12 games with the Angels, who obtained him from San Francisco on Aug. 30. He went 6-1 with a 5.36 ERA in 56 games with the Giants.

Christiansen pitched only 3 2/3 innings for the Angels and allowed one run.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The team is set to name Lee Tinsley as first base coach, the Arizona Republic reported.

Tinsley, who has served as the club's minor-league outfield coordinator for the past three seasons, replaces Brett Butler. Butler and pitching coach Mark Davis were jettisoned after last season. Bryan Price has been hired to replace Davis.

Tinsley spent time in the majors playing with Seattle, Boston and Philadelphia.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.