The New York Mets got shortstop Mike Bordick and reliever Rick White, Cleveland acquired closer Bob Wickman, outfielder Wil Cordero and two starting pitchers, and more trades were pending Friday as contenders prepared for the stretch run.
Bordick and Wickman, both coming off their first All-Star selections, were the biggest names to move. Oakland got into the action, obtaining reliever Jim Mecir.
The Cleveland Indians were the busiest of all, swinging three deals. The New York Mets and Tampa Bay each made two.
“We have 2000 in mind and that’s what we’re going to work for in the next 72 hours,” Indians general manager John Hart said in-between trades. “We’re calling teams and they’re calling us.”
There was talk that Texas closer John Wetteland, Montreal outfielder Rondell White and Milwaukee outfielder Jeromy Burnitz soon might change teams, too.
The deadline for making trades without waivers is 4 p.m. EDT Monday.
“We have 2000 in mind and that’s what we’re going to work for in the next 72 hours,” Indians general manager John Hart said. “We’re calling teams and they’re calling us.”
Curt Schilling, Denny Neagle, Andy Ashby and David Justice all switched clubs in the last month.
The Mets and Cleveland kept busy on Friday.
Unable to convince Barry Larkin to join them last weekend, the Mets obtained Bordick from Baltimore for infielder-outfielder Melvin Mora and three minor leaguers—pitchers Lesli Brea and Pat Gorman and catcher-outfielder Mike Kinkade.
“I’m very excited with the opportunity to be in a playoff race,” Bordick said. “The Orioles are struggling this year and to be thrust into a playoff race is great.”
Hours later, the Mets acquired White and outfielder Bubba Trammell from Tampa Bay for outfielder Jason Tyner and pitcher Paul Wilson.
“This is the time for us to make our move,” Mets general manager Steve Phillips said.
Indians Get Relief
The Indians, desperate for healthy arms, got Wickman, Steve Woodard and Jason Bere from Milwaukee. In return, the Brewers received slugger Richie Sexson, rookie pitchers Paul Rigdon and Kane Davis and a player to be named.
Cleveland later got Cordero, who left the Indians after last season and signed a $9 million, three-year contract with Pittsburgh, from the Pirates for outfielder Alex Ramirez and infielder Enrique Wilson. Cordero was hitting .282 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 89 games.
Still busy, the Indians then sent outfielder Ricky Ledee to Texas for David Segui, who will likely play first base.
The Athletics bolstered their bullpen Friday, getting Mecir and a minor leaguer from Tampa Bay for two minor leaguers. Mecir has been one of the most effective middle relievers in the AL this season, going 7-2 with one save and a 3.08 ERA.
Oakland also acquired Triple-A pitcher Todd Belitz for pitcher Jesus Colome —one of the A’s top prospects —and a player to be named.
In another trade, the Chicago Cubs and Anaheim swapped five minor leaguers.
White and Burnitz, meanwhile, were both attracting interest from the New York Yankees. Wetteland was mentioned in talks involving the Mets, St. Louis and Oakland.
There was a chance, too, Atlanta might sign recently released reliever Stan Belinda. The Mets talked about Bordick earlier, but were ready to give up on any deal until the Orioles called Thursday night. Bordick, eligible for free agency after the season, will join his new team Saturday.
“We’re ecstatic to acquire a player of Bordick’s ability,” Phillips said. “We look to him to add tremendous stability to the left side of our infield. His offensive production will be a boost as well.”
Bordick, who turned 35 last week, is hitting .297 with a career-high 16 home runs and 59 RBI.
Fills Void at Short
Phillips had been trying to upgrade at shortstop—Mora was not the answer—since Gold Glover Rey Ordonez broke his left arm May 29. The Mets had a deal in place for Larkin, but the Cincinnati star blocked it.
In White, the Mets got help for their overworked bullpen. He was 3-6 with a 3.41 ERA in 44 games.
“White was near the top of our list,” Phillips said. “We had a number of alternatives. As we weighed them, the level of players and the price of others was pretty significant.”
The Indians, who began the day 10½ games behind Chicago in the AL Central, were desperate for pitching help.
Woodard and Bere will immediately move into the rotation to replace Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright, both on the disabled list and may be out until September.
Wickman, signed through 2001, has 16 saves. He is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 43 games. A Wisconsin native, he sounded disappointed by the deal—Saturday was Bob Wickman Poster Night at County Stadium when Milwaukee plays Colorado.
“The trade hurts, that’s all I can say,” Wickman said.
Anaheim sent pitcher Brett Hinchcliffe and infielder Keith Luuloa to the Cubs for outfielder Chris Hatcher, pitcher Mike Heathcott and infielder Brett King.