The early bird catches the worm — and the best players — must have been the proverb the Chicago Cubs kept in mind while bustling to meet today’s trade deadline.
One was a deal for Montreal outfielder Rondell White in exchange for southpaw Scott Downs. They also sent outfielder Henry Rodriguez to the Florida Marlins in exchange for two minor league prospects.
“I’ve known from the get-go that they were trying to trade me,” White said Sunday of the Expos. The New York Yankees, Seattle, Atlanta and Milwaukee had been interested in White, but may have backed off because of his injury-plagued career.
The White trade is the fourth made by Andy MacPhail since he took over for Ed Lynch as general manager earlier this month. In an effort to revamp the organization, the Cubs have been very vocal with trading several players, including famed slugger, Sammy Sosa, after he was reported to be having difficulties with manager Don Baylor.
It was later reported the dispute was settled, and he no longer planned on leaving Chicago.
In addition to those two confirmed trades, the Cubs eyeballed right-hander Pedro Astacio from the Colorado Rockies, but they were slammed with competition from the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees.
Cards, O’s Also Busy
Although the Cubs were busy, St. Louis and Baltimore also worked right up to the deadline in an effort to revamp their lineups.
The Baltimore Orioles have traded outfielder B.J. Surhoff to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Luis Rivera, outfielder Trenidad Hubbard and catcher Fernando Lunar.
The St. Louis Cardinals, expressing concerns over Mark McGuire’s health, acquired first baseman Will Clark from Baltimore right. They also obtained getting catcher Carlos Hernandez for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.
“We had three primary concerns to address before the trading deadline,” St. Louis general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We feel with today’s addition of Hernandez, we have accomplished what we set out to do — improve the bullpen and add a quality catcher.”
Also as part of the deal, they also got infielder-outfielder Nate Tebbs and gave up outfielder Ben Johnson, and the Cards acquired reliever Jason Christiansen from Pittsburgh.
Angels Looking to Boost Lineup
The Angels hoped to boost their lineup, getting Gant and cash from the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Kent Bottenfield.
“We obviously needed a right-handed bat to help us,” Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s versatile, he can play the outfield, he can DH, neutralize some left-handed pitching.”
Philadelphia made the move four days after trading ace Curt Schilling to Arizona. Though he officially was a member of the Angels, Gant did not leave the Phillies right away — he took the team charter to San Diego on his way to Anaheim.
“I’m still saying ‘us’ instead of ‘them,“‘ Gant said.
Gant, 35, led the Phillies with 20 homers. He hit .254 with 38 RBIs.
Bottenfield, sent from St. Louis with Adam Kennedy to Anaheim in the off season for Jim Edmonds, was 7-8 with a 5.71 ERA.
“I’m not surprised,” Bottenfield said. “I knew it was coming, I’ve known for the last week something was going to happen.”
The Seattle Mariners acquired outfielder Al Martin from San Diego on Monday in a deal that sends John Mabry to the Padres. The San Diego Padres also traded right-hander Brian Meadows to the Kansas City Royals for right-hander Jay Witasick.
The Colorado Rockies have traded outfielder Tom Goodwin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three players.
Plus, Colorado gets outfielders Todd Hollandsworth and Kevin Gibbs and left-handed pitcher Randy Dorame.
Top ranked Toronto Blue Jays upgraded their pitching staff as well, acquiring starter Steve Trachsel and reliever Mark Guthrie from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for two minor leaguers. Tampa Bay, which unloaded relievers Rich White and Jim Mecir and outfielder Bubba Trammell last week, will get touted minor league second baseman Brent Abernathy and a player to be named. Trachsel signed a $1 million, one-year deal with the Devil Rays this off season, but could earn up to $4.5 million in performance bonuses. Trachsel will step into a rotation led by David Wells. The Blue Jays already acquired right-hander Esteban Loaiza from Texas.
And, the Seattle Mariners acquired outfielder Al Martin from San Diego on Monday in a deal that sends John Mabry to the Padres. The New York Yankees may still have interest in Jeromy Burnitz — but a deal for the Brewers rightfielder seems unlikely.
A proposed three-team trade between Montreal, Milwaukee and New York is off. Burnitz would have gone to the Yankees, Expos outfielder Rondell White to the Brewers and Yankees shortstop prospect Alfonso Soriano to the Expos.
The Brewers were concerned about White’s health. He instead was traded to the Chicago Cubs today for lefthander Scott Downs.
The Yankees also emerged as a late suitor for Astacio, hoping to clinch a trade for him in exchange for minor league prospect Alfonso Soriano and right-hander Ramiro Mendoza. No word on that potential trade has been reported as of late. Any trades made after 4 p.m. EDT deadline require waivers, always a tricky proposition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.