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Hampton signs with Colorado

Pitcher has $121 million reasons to love Coors Field

DALLAS — Now that Mike Hampton has signed with the Colorado Rockies, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez have become the focus of baseball's winter meetings.

Hampton's record $121 million, eight-year contract was formally announced Saturday, a deal that left other teams scrambling for second-tier pitchers such as Darren Dreifort and Kevin Appier, who was involved in discussions with the New York Mets.

As the meetings neared the completion of their second day, there still hadn't been a single trade.

In the only other major news Saturday, catcher Todd Hundley reached a preliminary agreement on a $23.5 million, four-year contract with his hometown Chicago Cubs.

Hampton's contract — the longest for a pitcher since Cleveland gave Wayne Garland a 10-year deal in 1977 — was the focus of an industry still trying to figure out how high salaries will go this offseason.

"It's more money than Mike will spend in his lifetime," said the pitcher's agent, Mark Rodgers.

Sandy Alderson, an executive vice president in the commissioner's office, ripped the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago for giving Kevin Brown a $105 million, seven-year deal, calling it an "affront to baseball."

"The spin to which that deal was subjected, I think, was just an embarrassment," he said.

He then criticized Hampton for saying he made the decision because of family.

"Announce the deal," Alderson said. "He's an outstanding pitcher. It's a lot of money. Case closed. I don't want to hear about the Wheat Ridge (Colo.) school system."

To him, it was another instance of a team giving in to a player.

"There is a benefit to saying no from time to time," Alderson said. "It would be nice for baseball to experience that benefit occasionally."

Rodriguez and Ramirez, the top two position players in this year's free-agent class, figure to get even more, possibly breaking the $200 million barrier.

Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, kept up his meetings with teams, but the winnowing down process had not yet begun.