In a busy trading day for both New York teams, the Yankees finally got All-Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch from the Minnesota Twins while the Mets acquired pitcher Al Leiter from the Florida Marlins on Friday.
The Marlins have now shed 12 players from their 25-man team that won the World Series. Florida got three minor leaguers for Leiter and infielder Ralph Milliard."It's unfortunate that so soon after winning the championship that they had to disassemble it," Leiter said. "It's just a real negative situation."
The Twins' trade of Knoblauch leaves only one player from the Minnesota team that won the 1991 World Series - pitcher Rick Aguilera.
Knoblauch, 29, hit .291 last season with 117 runs, a career-high 62 steals, 10 triples, nine homers and 58 RBIs. He also won his first Gold Glove award. He has a .304 average in seven major league seasons, with 713 runs and 276 steals.
"It's going to be a big help to us to get a solid leadoff hitter and a guy that controls the infield real well at second base," Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry said after working out Friday at Tampa, Fla. "He does so many things. He's a very versatile player. To get him to the ballclub is going to be a big plus for us."
Minnesota gets $3 million of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's money and four minor league prospects: pitchers Eric Milton and Danny Mota, outfielder Brian Buchanan and shortstop Cristian Guzman.
"Until you see what these kids do you aren't going to be able to evaluate this trade," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "It might be five years. It might be three years. We do know what we traded."
The trade had been in the works for months. The teams agreed on the players earlier in the week, but could not announce the deal until they got the approval of acting commissioner Bud Selig because of the cash involved.
Leiter, 32, was 11-9 with a 4.34 ERA in 27 starts last year. The left-hander was 0-1 with no saves in the postseason. He made two appearances in the World Series, going 0-0 with a 5.06 ERA against Cleve-land.
Since beating the Indians, Florida has shed nearly half its roster either by trade, release or the expansion draft. The salaries of those dozen players accounted for $29.34 million of the Marlins' $53.54 million payroll last season.
Florida previously traded pitchers Kevin Brown (San Diego), Robb Nen (San Francisco), Ed Vosberg (San Diego) and Dennis Cook (Mets); outfielders Moises Alou (Houston) and Devon White (Arizona); infielder Kurt Abbott (Oakland) and first baseman Jeff Conine (Kansas City).
In addition, pitcher Tony Saunders was taken by Tampa Bay in the expansion draft, first baseman Darren Daulton became a free agent and later decided to retire, and infielder Alex Arias was released.