Another first, too, at the winter meetings on Wednesday: The New York Yankees made their initial offer to free agent Cliff Lee.
The Yankees will try to lure Lee with a six-year proposal worth nearly $140 million. Easy to tell how eager they are to sign the prize pitcher.
“Hannibal Lecter in a straitjacket right now, waiting on this Cliff Lee thing,” general manager Brian Cashman said.
Hard to tell about Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett, however. After a trade with Baltimore fell through, the Rays worked on a swap that would send him to San Diego.
The last full day of this week’s session was active, with many teams in the mix. Still in play are big-name free agents Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre, Magglio Ordonez and Manny Ramirez, along with Lee.
“The winter meetings have usually been a lot about first meetings, and we’re into second and third meetings,” top agent Scott Boras said. “I’ve gotten two deals done here. I’m trying to think back to when that’s happened. It’s been a while.”
Boras put Pena and the Cubs together for what he called a “pillow contract” _ $10 million for one year.
“There’s a lot of comforts,” Boras said.
The 32-year-old Pena hit a career-low .196 this season with 28 home runs and 84 RBIs for Tampa Bay.
“I’m extremely confident. I don’t tend to look back on my failures and dwell upon them,” he said.
The Cubs, who traded star first baseman Derrek Lee to Atlanta last August, didn’t seem daunted by Pena’s drop-off.
“It’s not a gamble. It’s a real good fit,” GM Jim Hendry asserted. “We have filled all of the essentials that we were looking for with Carlos.”
Konerko got a $37.5 million, three-year deal to stay with the White Sox. The 34-year-old team captain hit .312 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs last season.
The four-time All-Star was in Mexico, on vacation and overlooking the ocean, when he got a text message that the White Sox had acquired free-agent slugger Adam Dunn. At first, Konerko figured that meant his days in Chicago were Dunn. Then, he reconsidered.
“Maybe they’re actually going to make a push to get both of us,” Konerko thought to himself.
White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said season ticketholders seemed enthused about the team’s 2011 prospects.
“Phones are ringing off the hook to the point that the sales department canceled its holiday party tonight to stay late and field all of the calls,” he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Francoeur, who started last season with the New York Mets and wound up in the World Series with Texas, sounded enthused about becoming an everyday starter in Kansas City.
“When I’ve been comfortable, I’ve tended to play well,” he said. “I’m not the greatest guy when I sit on the bench. I have ants in my pants.”
The meetings end Thursday with the Rule 5 draft, mostly made up of minor league veterans left off 40-man rosters. Even when teams pack up and leave the Disney resort, look for more deals _ often 3 1/2 days of talking quickly turns into a move or two.