Jason Kendall got a $6 million, 2-year contract from the Kansas City Royals and J.J. Putz agreed to a $3 million, 1-year deal with the Chicago White Sox yesterday as more moves followed the winter meetings.
Tampa Bay finalized its trade with Atlanta, acquiring righthander Rafael Soriano and agreeing to a $7.25 million, 1-year contract with the reliever. And Washington completed its $6 million, 2-year contract with 14-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
Kendall, 35, is a .290 hitter over his 14-year career. He made three All-Star teams from 1996 to 2000 but hit just .241 with two homers and 43 RBI last season with Milwaukee.
Soriano became a free agent after the season, then surprised the Braves this week when he accepted salary arbitration. Atlanta already had agreed to deals with free-agent relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, so the Braves traded Soriano to the Rays for righthander Jesse Chavez. Soriano had to approve the deal, and he can't be traded by the Rays without his consent before June 15.
"We had our eyes on different guys, but I don't think any that make us feel as confident about our bullpen heading into the season as we do now," said Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations.
Soriano had a career-best 27 saves in 31 opportunities for the Braves. In 75 2/3 innings, he struck out 102 while walking 27.
Putz is 23-19 with a 3.24 ERA and 103 saves in 337 relief appearances over seven major league seasons with Seattle and the New York Mets. An All-Star in 2007, Putz was 1-4 with a 5.22 ERA in 29 games for the Mets last season before season-ending arthroscopic surgery on June 9 to remove a bone spur in his right elbow.
"He passed the physical with flying colors and we couldn't be happier with what was communicated to us," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said.
In Washington, Rodriguez, 38, said he wanted to be a regular with the Nationals, who have touted catching prospect Jesus Flores.
"I still can play every day and I will play every day and, basically, the thing is just, you know, to do my best for the club," Rodriguez said. "I know that it's hard for me to play 162 games. That's impossible for a catcher. But as long as I'm healthy, and I'm feeling great physically, I'll be in the field playing."
Among lower-level free agents, three righthanders agreed to minor league contracts: Elmer Dessens with the New York Mets ($700,000 in majors, $90,000 in minors), Josh Towers with the Los Angeles Dodgers ($700,000/$100,000) and Ryan Speier with the Nationals ($425,000/$90,000).
As today's deadline approached for teams to offer contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters, at least four arbitration-eligible players agreed to deals.
* Rich Harden looks forward to the opportunity to put his injury woes in the past and pitch 200 innings a season for the Texas Rangers. The Rangers introduced their new righthander, who has been on the disabled list seven times the past 5 years. Harden, 28, was 9-9 in 26 starts last season for the Chicago Cubs. He missed nearly a month in the middle of the season with a lower back strain.