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Winter baseball meetings wrapping up in Las Vegas

December 11, 2008 | 12:54 pm

LAS VEGAS -- Baseball's annual winter meetings officially ended this morning when the Brinks truck backed up to the Bellagio hotel to take Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and his oversized checkbook to the airport.

Actually the appropriately named Cashman was long gone by the time Thursday's Rule V draft, the final piece of formal business on the winter meeting's agenda, was completed. But by then it had already been a busy week for the Yankees, who got CC Sabathia, the top free-agent pitcher on the market to agree to a record-breaking seven-year $161-million contract. The Yankees also closed in on right-hander A.J. Burnett, offering five years and $85 million, about $6.5 million below Burnett's asking price. The Braves, among other teams, are also involved in those talks, and Burnett could have a new home by the weekend.

Brian Cashman On the trade front, Cashman filled a hole in center field by wresting Sabathia's former Milwaukee teammate, multiple Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron, away from the Brewers for Melky Cabrera and a prospect.

Across town, the Mets, who lost the last two National League East titles in their bullpen, acquired two closers, signing the Angels' record-breaking free agent Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year $37-million contract and getting former All-Star J.J. Putz from the Mariners in a 12-player deal that kick-started Seattle's rebuilding plans.

Meanwhile, nearly a half-dozen teams are after free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, the Angels have moved to the front of the line for Padres' right-hander Jake Peavy and Cubs' closer Kerry Wood is just a doctor's OK away from signing a two-year $20-million contract with Cleveland, a formality that was expected to be completed Thursday afternoon. And no one's even talking about Manny Ramirez yet.

But you probably already knew most of that. Here are some transactions that happened in Vegas that you may not have heard about:

--The Detroit Tigers answered their need for catching help, trading for Texas' Gerald Laird early on the first day of the four-day meeting.

A.J. Burnett_2 --The Reds, also looking for catching, sent hustling utilitman Ryan Freel, a human highlight reel, to Baltimore along with two prospects, for the Orioles' Ramon Hernandez.

--Also on Tuesday, the Dodgers retained free-agent third baseman Casey Blake, signing him to a three-year contract with an option for 2012, while the Oakland Athletics gave former Giants pitcher Jerome Williams a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training.

--On Wednesday, the otherwise-quiet Arizona Diamondbacks signed infielder Augie Ojeda to a one-year deal.

--The Marlins released former Mater Dei star Matt Treanor, perhaps better known as the husband of two-time Olympic volleyball champion Misty May Treanor.

--Among the players Seattle acquired in its mega deal with the Mets and Indians were former Long Beach State left-hander Jason Vargas, pitcher Aaron Heilman, speedy outfielder Endy Chavez and former Dodger prosect Franklin Gutierrez.

--The Tigers, among the busiest teams on the trade front, acquired former Dodger right-hander Edwin Jackson from the Tampa Bay Rays.

--The Dodgers signed infielder Mark Loretta.

--The Phillies and Pirates exchanged catchers, with Ronny Paulino going to the world champions and Jason Jaramillo going to the third-worst team in the National League.

--The MinnesotaTwins reached a two-year deal with veteran infielder Nick Punto.*

In all, there were 22 transactions completed by 10 a.m. today, most involving minor leaguers.

--Kevin Baxter

* Updated at 2:21 p.m.

Top photo: Brian Cashman. Credit: Kathy Willens / AP
Bottom photo: A.J. Burnett. Credit: Adrian Wyld / AP