While Ken Griffey Jr. and his apparently shocking price tag are the talk of the general managers meetings, teams are making other deals.
The Toronto Blue Jays made another big trade today, sending pitchers Pat Hentgen and Paul Spoljaric to the St. Louis Cardinals for left-hander Lance Painter, catcher Alberto Castillo and minor-league pitcher Matt DeWitt.
Hentgen, who will earn $6.6 million next season, was 11-12 with a 4.79 ERA in 1999 third-highest among Toronto's starters.
In 1998, Hentgen was 12-11 with a 5.17 ERA. Since going 20-10 with a 3.22 in his Cy Young Award-winning season of 1996, Hentgen is 38-33.
The Blue Jays opened the GM meetings by trading Shawn Green to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday along with a minor league infielder for Raul Mondesi and reliever Pedro Borbon.
The San Diego Padres, back in a cost-cutting mode, traded ace Andy Ashby and his $5.9 million salary to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night for right-handers Carlton Loewer, Steve Montgomery and prospect Adam Eaton. Loewer and Eaton are former first-round draft picks.
Ashby has veto power over the trade, but the two-time All-Star said he would likely accept the deal.
"You hate to leave somewhere where you've been so long and what we've been through there," Ashby said from his home in Pittston, Pa. "But I knew it was going to happen."
Ashby, a 32-year-old right-hander, began his career in the Phillies organization in 1986. He was 17-9 with a 3.34 ERA as the Padres reached the World Series in 1998, then went 14-10 with a 3.80 in 1999.
"It's going to be nice, I hope," he said of a return to Philadelphia. "I want to go back and definitely help them go where they want to go."
Earlier Wednesday, Cincinnati general manager Jim Bowden said he made five proposals involving Griffey that Seattle rejected, and the Mariners made three proposals that the Reds rebuffed.
Bowden wouldn't say how many players were included in the offers, but he gave a hint at what it would cost to get Griffey.
"It would make us non-competitive," said Bowden, who put together a team that lost a one-game playoff to the New York Mets for the NL's wild-card spot. "Instad of 96, we think we'd win 79. They're asking for all of our best players."
Bowden didn't plan to meet again with Seattle's Pat Gillick before the general mangers meetings ended today.
"We want to continue the discussions, but certainly not at the price that they're asking at this point," Bowden said.
Griffey, eligible for free agency after next season, asked to be traded closer to his home in Orlando, Fla., and the Mariners said they will try to comply.
Griffey grew up in Cincinnati, where his dad was a star on the Big Red Machine of the 1970s and is currently a coach.
Bowden said the situation could change in a month or two if the Mariners haven't traded Griffey.
"One of the big reasons we want Ken Griffey is not just he's the best position player in all baseball, but the fact what he can do for the city of Cincinnati," Bowden said. "After winning 96 games, you bring Griffey into the house, he might have the effect on Cincinnati that Mark McGwire had on St. Louis, or even more."
Bowden doesn't blame Gillick for setting a high price.
"If I were in his position, I'd be asking for a lot, too. These kinds of trades take time," Bowden said.
Gillick has said there is no timetable on a deal, other than he hopes it can be done before the start of spring training.
The Phillies gave up on Ashby after he went 2-8 in 1991-92, and he was taken by Colorado in the 1992 expansion draft.
"This is a homecoming for Andy Ashby," Phillies GM Ed Wade said. "We let him get by in the expansion draft, and obviously it turned out to be a mistake on our part."
After going 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA with the Rockies in 1993, Ashby was acquired as the player to be named in the final move of the Padres' Fire Sale, coming over with catcher Brad Ausmus and pitcher Doug Bochtler for pitchers Bruce Hurst and Greg Harris.
Ashby went 70-62 with the Padres, but is still under .500 for his career at 72-74.
The Cleveland Indians also were pursuing Ashby, and Wade had to include Eaton to get the deal done.
"To add Andy Ashby to a staff that includes Curt Schilling, Paul Byrd, Robert Person and a young guy like Randy Wolf certainly validates what we're trying to do," Wade said.
Loewer, a 26-year-old right-hander, was 2-6 with a 5.12 ERA in 20 games, 13 of them starts. The Phillies' top pick in the June 1994 draft missed nearly four months because of a stress fracture in his right arm. The Padres are confident he's healthy, and expect that he'll have a physical in San Diego soon.
Montgomery, 28, was 1-5 with thre saves and a 3.34 ERA. Eaton, 22 later this month, was a combined 11-10 at Class A, Double-A and Triple-A.
Eaton, 22 later this month, played at Class A Clearwater, Double-A Reading and Triple-A Scranton and was a combined 11-10. The right-hander was Philadelphia's No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft. He'll likely start next season in Triple-A.
Eaton was honored this season as the Phillies' top minor league pitcher. He was in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium, playing for the Peoria team in the Arizona Fall League, when the trade was made.
Padres general manager Kevin Towers has been intent on trading Ashby, fearing he could seek $8 million per year in his next contract.
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