MLB Trade Clock Ticking

The Chicago Cubs got an early start as baseball’s trade deadline approached, closing a deal for Montreal outfielder Rondell White and sending outfielder Henry Rodriguez to Florida.

The St. Louis Cardinals also were busy today, getting catcher Carlos Hernandez for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.

Other teams were working, too, to make moves before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline. Any trades made after that point require waivers, always a tricky proposition.

On Sunday, outfielder Ron Gant was traded from Philadelphia to Anaheim. In a pair of deals involving relievers, Jason Christiansen moved from Pittsburgh to St. Louis and Doug Henry went from Houston to San Francisco.

The Expos traded White to the Cubs for left-hander Scott Downs. The deal had been set on Sunday, contingent on Chicago being able to sign the outfielder, who has been on the disabled list, to a multi-year contract extension.

“Yeah, there’s something on the table, but if it’s not right, I’m not going to sign with the Cubs,” White said after Montreal lost to Cincinnati 7-4.

White Hot Prospect

White’s name had been prominently mentioned in trade talks. The New York Yankees, Seattle, Atlanta and Milwaukee had been interested, but may have backed off because of his history of injuries.

“I’ve known from the get-go that they were trying to trade me,” White said.

Chicago Abuzz with Trade News

About an hour after that deal was announced, the Cubs traded Rodriguez to Florida for minor league prospects Ross Gload, a first baseman-outfielder, and Dave Noyce, a pitcher.

In 76 games this season, Rodriguez batted .251 for 18 homers and 51 RBIs. Over his final 19 games for Chicago, Rodriguez had six homers and 19 RBIs.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals, having acquired Christiansen and reliever Mike Timlin during the weekend, filled another need by acquiring Hernandez.

“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.”

Hernandez, 33, fills a void left when Eli Marrero went on the disabled list with a strained left thumb on July 2. Marrero, who had been splitting time with Mike Matheny, isn’t expected back until September at the earliest.

Hernandez is hitting .251 with two homers and 25 RBIs.

Slocumb, 34, was 2-3 with a 5.44 ERA this season. He led Cardinals relievers with 49 2-3 innings.

Also as part of the deal, the Cardinals acquired infielder-outfielder Nate Tebbs and gave up outfielder Ben Johnson.

Philly, Anaheim Make Power Moves

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 Cardinals added a lefty reliever by getting Christiansen from the Pirates for minor league infielder Jack Wilson.

Christiansen was dealt shortly after allowing four of the five batters he faced to reach base in the Pirates’ 9-8 loss to San Diego.

While leaving the mound, Christiansen flipped the ball to manager Gene Lamont, prompting a heated exchange in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.

“I did something you shouldn’t do to a manager,” Christiansen said. “You should never show up your manager. I did that when I threw the ball in the air. It’s tough for me right now. I just got traded and the last thing he and I have to remember about each other is that.”

Christiansen was 2-8 with one save and a 4.97 ERA in 44 games. He also had a seven-game losing streak.

Henry, who helped San Francisco win the NL West in 1997, was traded by the Astros to the Giants for pitcher Scott Linebrink.

Henry, 36, was 1-3 with a 4.42 ERA in 44 appearances. The righty also had one save, which came June 18 at San Francisco.

In 1997, Henry worked 75 games as a setup man for San Francisco closer Rod Beck.

“Our familiarity with Doug and his track record makes this a win-win situation for us,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

On Saturday night, the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox got catcher Charles Johnson and DH Harold Baines from Baltimore for catcher Brook Fordyce and three minor league pitchers.