Career steals leader Rickey Henderson heads 10 first-time candidates on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, joining holdovers Mark McGwire and Jim Rice - eligible for the final time.
Other newcomers are Jay Bell, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, former Oriole Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn and Matt Williams.
Just 23 players are on the ballot, the smallest group ever. Holdovers include former Orioles Harold Baines, Tim Raines Sr. and Lee Smith. Others include Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Alan Trammell.
A 10-time All-Star who played from 1979 to 2003, Henderson holds the career records for steals (1,406) and runs (2,295), and his 2,190 walks are second to Barry Bonds' 2,558. Henderson also is first in times caught stealing with 335. Henderson played for nine teams, winning the 1990 American League Most Valuable Player award with the Oakland Athletics.
McGwire, eighth on the career home run list with 583, has denied using illegal performance-enhancing substances but evaded questions when he appeared before a congressional committee, saying, "I'm not here to talk about the past."
He received 128 votes in the 2008 election from 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America - matching his total from 2007, when he was eligible for the first time. His percentage of 23.6 percent was well short of the 75 percent necessary for election.
Rice received 392 votes (72.2 percent) in 2008, 16 short of the 75 percent needed.
Reporters who have been in the BBWAA for 10 or more consecutive years are eligible to vote, and the totals will be announced Jan. 12.
Red Sox: : The team and Junichi Tazawa, a 22-year-old pitcher who has no professional experience in Japan, have agreed on a three-year contract worth about $3 million, a baseball source told The Boston Globe. Tazawa's deal is a major league contract, meaning he will occupy a spot on Boston's 40-man roster, according to the Globe. Tazawa, who had been courted by several teams, is expected to undergo a physical in the next few days that will allow the sides to clear the final hurdle in negotiations, and team officials hope to officially announce his acquisition by the end of the week, the newspaper said. Tazawa's case has drawn considerable interest in Japan because the pitcher elected to forgo a professional career in Japan so he could play in the United States. Though Tazawa's deal is three years in length, the Red Sox, who signed Japanese pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima during the 2006-2007 offseason, will possess his rights until the player has six years of major league service.
Astros: : Pitcher Mike Hampton has agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth at least $2 million pending a physical exam with his old team, two baseball sources told ESPN.com. Hampton, 36, has a 141-105 record in 14 seasons. He pitched for the Astros from 1994 to 1999, with his best season coming in 1999, when he was 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Hampton did not pitch with the Braves in 2006 and 2007 because of injuries. With Atlanta in 2008, he was 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA after missing the first four months of the season because of injury.
Brewers: : Free agents CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets and Brian Shouse were offered salary arbitration by Milwaukee, ensuring it will receive compensatory picks in next year's amateur draft if they sign elsewhere. The Brewers declined to offer arbitration to right-hander Eric Gagne, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal before last season.
Mariners: : Seattle hired Ty Van Burkleo as bench coach and Lee Tinsley as first base coach.