The Mariners and Yankees completed their complicated two-for-three blockbuster trade late Wednesday, with Seattle sending slugging first baseman Tino Martinez to New York, Mariners sources told Newsday.
The Yankees signed Martinez to a five-year, $20 million contract.
Martinez, who turns 28 today, eagerly accepted the challenge of replacing Don Mattingly when he agreed to a contract that will quadruple his salary from the $1 million he made this past season. Martinez broke through in 1995, batting .293 with 31 homers and 111 RBI.
The Martinez signing sealed the two-for-three deal. The Yankees also get sidearming right-hander Jeff Nelson, who went 7-3 with a 2.17 ERA last season, and right-hander Jim Mecir, 25, who was 1-4 with a 3.10 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma and pitched 4 scoreless innings for Seattle. In return, the Yankees surrendered young left-hander Sterling Hitchcock and third-base prospect Russ Davis.
The prospect of trading Martinez angered some Mariners, including Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson, who sounded irate during an interview conducted in Phoenix by a New York Times magazine writer.
“It’s unfortunate a winning organization sometimes gets dismantled,” Johnson said. “If someone tells me we’ll have the same team in spring as we did last year, well, I’d love to hear the logic behind that.
“I’m disappointed. You work so hard to build chemistry and get everyone together and playing well. We finally started winning, and then they started dismantling the team. That stuff gets frustrating.”
While huge, the Martinez deal - completed when the Yankees beat their imposed deadline of 9 a.m. today - could become merely a prelude to a whirlwind next few weeks in which the Yankees will try to fill several gaping holes. At least two more deals seem possible.
Yankees general manager Bob Watson and manager Joe Torre flew to New York to meet Wednesday with David Cone to try to solidify their chances of re-signing their ace pitcher by outlining plans to improve the club. Cone rejected the club’s original three-year, $15 million offer and is thought to be seeking a deal in excess of the three-year, $18 million contract he signed three seasons ago. Cone listened to the Yankees’ top decision-makers outline their big plans, then pleased them by telling them that the Yankees would receive the final chance at signing him.
The Yankees also are expected to address the second-base situation soon by making an offer to one of two available superstar second basemen, Craig Biggio or Roberto Alomar. Turned off by Alomar’s original three-year, $25 million contract request, it appears the Yankees are leaning toward making the first offer to Biggio.
But while the Yankees seem prepared to top the Astros’ original four-year, $20 million offer, indications are strong that Biggio would prefer to play elsewhere despite living in New Jersey and having grown up on Long Island.
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