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Finally some action at the Winter Meetings

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Lake Buena Vista, FL (Sports Network) - Well after nearly two days of nothing but talk, we finally got some action at Major League Baseball's Winter meetings.

The Boston Red Sox were the big players on Tuesday evening, as they continued their free spending offseason by giving big contracts to outfielder J.D. Drew and shortstop Julio Lugo. Of course, Boston already spent over $50 million earlier this offseason just for the right to talk to Japanese flame thrower Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Drew, who was rumored to be going to Boston for some time now, finalized a five-year deal that will pay him $70 million. He had left over $30 million on the table when he opted out of the final three years of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the season. Drew, though, cashed in after his first relatively injury free season.

In a career-high 146 games for the Dodgers, Drew managed 20 homers and reached 100 RBI for the first time since entering the league with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998.

Drew's arrival almost certainly ends Trot Nixon's run in Boston. Nixon had been the Red Sox' right fielder since 1999 and is also a free agent.

Many thought the Drew signing would be a precursor to a bigger deal, most notably one that would ship All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez out of town. It looks as if Ramirez isn't going anywhere, though, and he will team with Drew and David Ortiz to give the Red Sox as a lethal middle of the order as there is in the game.

Boston was not done after the Drew signing, as it filled its void at shortstop by signing Lugo to a four-year, $36 million deal. Lugo ultimately chose the Sox over the likes of the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, because he would be guaranteed a spot at short with them.

Also on Tuesday the San Diego Padres bolstered their pitching staff, as they agreed in principle with future Hall of Fame right-hander Greg Maddux to a one-year deal with a guaranteed player option for a second season.

Although the Padres have not confirmed the deal, numerous reports have the deal at $10 million for this season with an escalating player option in the second year depending on how many innings he pitches in 2007.

Maddux, who is 10th on baseball's all-time wins list with 333, was 15-14 in 34 starts with the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Los Angeles had wanted to re-sign Maddux, but was not interested in giving him a second guaranteed year.

Maddux's 210 innings this past season would have led the Padres' staff, surpassing Jake Peavy's 202 1/3. Maddux has reached at least 200 innings every year he has pitched since his rookie season with the exception of one in 2002 with Atlanta when he tossed 1999 1 /3 frames.

His 15 wins also exceeded Woody Williams' staff-leading total of 12 for the 2006 NL West champion Padres. Williams signed a deal with the Houston Astros earlier this offseason, so Maddux will slide right into the his third spot in the rotation behind Peavy and Chris Young.

FINALLY A TRADE

We finally have a trade at this year's Winter Meetings. The New York Mets have shipped starter Brian Bannister to Kansas City for reliever Ambiorix Burgos.

Bannister, the son of former major leaguer Floyd Bannister, was thought to be a candidate for the Mets' rotation this coming season after going 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in eight games (six starts) in 2006. He also missed significant time with a hamstring injury,

"Acquiring Brian Bannister fits in with our plan for long term success," said Royals vice president of baseball operations and general manager Dayton Moore. " We're excited to be acquiring such a young, talented pitcher with such exceptional makeup."

Burgos, on the other hand, was a bitter disappointment for the Royals, posting a 4-5 mark with 18 saves and a 5.52 ERA. The hard-throwing 22-year-old did strike out 72 batters in 73 1/3 frames and has fanned 137 in 136 2/3 innings for his career.

One of the goals for Minaya at these meetings was to strengthen his bullpen, which has taken a hit this offseason with Chad Bradford heading to Baltimore and Roberto Hernandez inking a deal in Cleveland.

The Mets had also been in discussions with Texas with regards to reliever Akinori Otsuka, but the Rangers' asking price was apparently to high.

BONDS HAS ARRIVED

Well much to everyone's surprise here at the Winter Meetings, free agent slugger Barry Bonds has arrived. Bonds is looking for work, but I don't think he will be attending the ongoing job fair that is taking place here at Lake Buena Vista.

Then again Cal Ripken spoke on behalf of Field Turf on Tuesday, so maybe Bonds will be here to address the media on all the benefits of steroids today.

Seriously, though, Bonds is the one player you have not heard much about here. There were rumblings about him winding up in Oakland, but they have died down. When it is all said and done I say he stays in San Francisco.

Why wouldn't the Giants sign him? They have invested all this time in this home run chase, why would they bail out now when it is all about to come to fruition? In the end they will work something out.

RUMORS STILL FLYING

* The Mets seem to be involved in every trade rumor at the moment. Depending on who you believe they are offering outfield prospect Lastings Milledge to just about everyone. He has always been a favorite of Oakland GM Billy Beane, as has Aaron Heilman. Could a Milledge/Heilman for Rich Harden deal be in the works? A strong rumor last night had a straight up Milledge for Joe Blanton deal brewing. The Mets have also discussed starters like Javier Vazquez, Freddy Garcia, Rodrigo Lopez, Jake Westbrook, or Cliff Lee.

And of course the Mets are still the front-runners to win the Barry Zito sweepstakes. However, there is a chance that Texas could blow everyone out of the water with an outrageous contract.

* Andy Pettitte to the Yanks still has some legs to it. It is all over the place in New York. The Yankees, though, could get tired of waiting for him to make a decision and offer Ted Lilly or Gil Meche a deal.

* Eric Gagne is starting to garner some attention. Cleveland and Boston seem to be the main suitors, but the Phillies could get in the mix, as manager Charlie Manuel said this morning that fixing the bullpen should be the team's top priority.

* Speaking of the Phillies, they are apparently interested in dealing for Milwaukee's Kevin Mench and could dangle starter Jon Lieber. A deal was thought to be close on Tuesday, but talk has simmered.

* An intersecting rumor making the rounds has the Seattle Mariners in talks with the Atlanta Braves with regards to starter Tim Hudson and first baseman Adam LaRoche, who everyone seems to be interested in. Seattle would ship Richie Sexson and reliever Rafael Soriano in any potential deal.


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