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Damon bolts for New York

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Johnny Damon left Boston for the rival New York Yankees, and the Chicago Cubs added Jacque Jones to their outfield on a busy night in baseball as more players switched teams Tuesday.

The Yankees, seeking more bullpen hope, also reached a preliminary agreement with Octavio Dotel, a former closer coming off major elbow surgery. The Texas Rangers agreed to acquire pitcher Adam Eaton from San Diego, while the Los Angeles Dodgers, quickly revamping the roster under new general manager Ned Colletti, finalized a $3.85 million, one-year deal with 38-year-old center fielder Kenny Lofton.

Details of New York’s preliminary $52 million, four-year agreement with Damon were still being negotiated and the All-Star center fielder must pass a physical, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity because negotiations were not yet final.

Moving from Fenway Park to Yankee Stadium will mean a change of style and scenery for the long-haired, bearded Damon, a fan favorite in Boston for his scrappy play and scruffy look. New York owner George Steinbrenner bans beards and long hair.

The 30-year-old Jones rejected the Minnesota Twins’ salary arbitration offer Monday in favor of a $16 million, three-year contract with the Cubs. He hit .249 last season with 23 homers and 73 RBIs, the second straight year his average declined following a pair of .300 seasons. He set career highs in 2002 with 27 homers and 85 RBIs.

While the Cubs were adding Jones, the White Sox finalized their trade to acquire right-hander Javier Vazquez and $4 million from Arizona for pitchers Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino, and minor league outfielder Chris Young.

In addition to Jones and Lofton, two other free agents finalized contracts: right-hander Rudy Seanez with Boston ($2.1 million) and left-hander Chris Hammond with Cincinnati ($800,000). Baltimore also was close to an agreement with outfielder-first baseman Jeff Conine.

Last week, the Rangers dealt All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano to Washington for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge, and pitcher Armando Galarraga. On Tuesday, they agreed to send Sledge, pitcher Chris Young and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego for Eaton and reliever Akinori Otsuka.

The deal was pending physicals, according to three baseball officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been finalized.

New Texas general manager Jon Daniels is seeking more pitching. Free agent Kevin Millwood, who led the American League with a 2.86 ERA for Cleveland, met with Rangers officials along with his agent, Scott Boras.

Meanwhile, 51 players became free agents when their teams failed to offer contracts by the midnight (EST) deadline.

Among those who agreed to contracts ahead of the deadline were Cincinnati catcher Jason LaRue ($9.1 million for two years) and Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall ($2.25 million).

Three other former All-Stars were not offered contracts: reliever Lance Carter (Tampa Bay), first baseman-designated hitter Ken Harvey (Kansas City, who played with the Spokane Indians) and second baseman Junior Spivey (Washington).

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