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Delgado, Thome switching teams

NEW YORK — Carlos Delgado is headed to the New York Mets and Jim Thome to the World Series champion Chicago White Sox in a pair of big trades made Wednesday just before baseball officials began the usually quiet Thanksgiving break.

The Mets reached a preliminary agreement to acquire Delgado and $7 million from the Florida Marlins for first baseman Mike Jacobs and minor league pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, a baseball official familiar with the talks said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal was not final.

Chicago agreed to a tentative deal to acquire Thome and $22 million from the Philadelphia Phillies for center fielder Aaron Rowand and minor league pitchers Giovany Gonzalez, Chicago's first-round pick in the 2004 amateur draft, and Daniel Haigwood.

While the White Sox and Phillies confirmed the agreement to swap Thome and Rowand, the identifies of the other players were detailed by another baseball official, also speaking on condition of anonymity. A third official revealed the amount Philadelphia is sending the White Sox, which covers about half of what remains on Thome's $85 million, six-year contract.

Both deals are subject to players passing physicals — Thome's exam is set for Friday. Approval from the commissioner's office also is necessary because more than $1 million is changing hands in each trade.

"We're very happy because we will have Delgado in our organization. It's a matter of hours before he becomes a Mets player," Tony Bernazard, special assistant to Mets general manager Omar Minaya, said on Puerto Rican radio station WIAC. "I can't give any details, but I'm sure everything will have a happy ending for us."

In free-agent news, the Chicago Cubs agreed to a $12 million, three-year contract with former White Sox right-hander Bobby Howry, who joins a restocked bullpen that includes left-hander Scott Eyre, who agreed last week to a three-year deal that guarantees him $11 million.

Also, Bud Black decided Wednesday to remain with the Los Angeles Angels as pitching coach rather than pursue the Dodgers' managerial job. Black declined an invitation to be interviewed Tuesday after the Dodgers received permission from the Angels to speak with him. But he called Dodgers GM Ned Colletti that night to say he'd like some additional time to consider the matter.

Florida's trade was the second big deal struck this week by the payroll-slashing Marlins, who also have a pending agreement to send 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett to the Boston Red Sox for three prospects. The two trades would cut Florida's payroll, which was $60 million at the start of last season, by about $27 million next year.

New York would receive the money from the Marlins to offset part of the $48 million Delgado is owed over the next three seasons. The first baseman turned down the Mets' offer last January to accept a $52 million, four-year contract from the Marlins, who did not offer the no-trade clause contained in the Mets' deal.

Delgado's agent, David Sloane, said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called his client to inform him about the trade.

Because he is a veteran player traded during a multiyear contract, Delgado would have the right to file a trade demand during the 15 days following next year's World Series.

A two-time All-Star, he hit .301 with 33 homers and 115 RBIs in his lone seasons with the Marlins, reaching 30 homers for the ninth consecutive year. The 33-year-old Delgado, who spent his first 12 major league seasons with Toronto, has a .284 career average with 369 homers and 1,173 RBIs.

Acquiring Thome does not necessarily mean the White Sox won't re-sign free agent first baseman Paul Konerko. In addition to playing first, Thome can also be a DH.

Thome totaled 89 home runs in his first two seasons in Philadelphia before back and elbow injuries limited him to 59 games this year, when he slumped to .207 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 193 at-bats. The 35-year-old has 430 career homers, but is coming off surgery on his right elbow in August.

He is owed $43.5 million over the final three seasons of his contract. The deal also calls for the final $2.5 million of his $10 million signing bonus to be paid next year, normally the responsibility of the original club.

Thome became expendable after the emergence of first baseman Ryan Howard, who won the NL Rookie of the Year award after batting .288 with 22 homers and 63 RBIs in 88 games.

Rowand batted .270 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs for the White Sox last season and established himself as one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.

The trade was the first major move for new Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who replaced Ed Wade this month. Wade lost his job after the Phillies missed the playoffs for the 12th straight year and 21st time in 22 seasons.>