NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Toronto Blue Jays still are waiting to pull off a blockbuster deal involving future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens, but in the meantime, they made a less dramatic pitching deal yesterday.
The Blue Jays acquired right-handed starter Joey Hamilton from the San Diego Padres for right-hander Woody Williams, reliever Carlos Almanzar and outfield prospect Peter Tucci.
"When we trade Roger, we still want to have a solid rotation," explained general manager Gord Ash.
The Padres are in a similar situation. They lost out in the bidding war for free-agent starter Kevin Brown and now will be without a large chunk of the starting rotation that just led them to their first World Series appearance since 1984.
"You lose Kevin Brown and Joey Hamilton and you lose about 550 innings," said Padres GM Kevin Towers, "but we feel Woody Williams will be able to slide in there. We gave up a good arm, but we feel Woody will help us."
Hamilton was 13-13 with a 4.27 ERA last year. He worked 217 1/3 innings and had 147 strikeouts. Williams was 10-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 209 2/3 innings. Almanzar appeared in just 25 games and was 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA.
The deal highlighted the third day of the winter meetings, which figure to be remembered more for the record $105 million contract that was signed by Brown on Saturday than anything that happens during the remaining three days of the convention at the sprawling Opryland Hotel.
The New York Mets announced the only other significant transaction yesterday, signing veteran outfielder Rickey Henderson to a one-year contract worth $1.8 million with a vesting option that could guarantee him $2 million in 2000 if he accumulates 500 plate appearances.
"Our goal going into the winter was to improve our offense," said Mets general manager Steve Phillips. "We wanted to add more depth to our lineup, some power and some speed. We feel that with Robin Ventura, Bobby Bonilla and John Olerud, we have allowed [manager] Bobby Valentine to build around Mike Piazza.
"But in 1998, our leadoff hitters batted .237 and had a .321 on-base percentage. They stole 15 bases and we had 62 [stolen bases] as a team. Rickey stole 66 by himself, so he should double our capability. He arguably is the best leadoff hitter in the history of the game."
Henderson, the all-time stolen-base leader, hit .236 with 101 runs, 14 homers and 57 RBIs last year.
Pub Date: 12/14/98