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Bailey in Boston spotlight, Padres one-way Street didn't include K-Rod

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Three days after Christmas, Oakland dealt closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox as one of the last moves of a crazy off-season for closers.

Bailey could have gone to thePadres, who had engaged the Athletics in trade talks earlier in the winter while looking to fill the huge cleats left by All-Star closer Heath Bell.

San Diego, though, didn't find a match with the Athletics. The Padres did nearly have a match with Francisco "K-Rod' Rodriguez, talking parameters on a one-year, $9 million deal that would have reunited K-Rod with manager Bud Black, who was his pitching coach with the Angels in the early 2000s.

But as the deadline for players accepting arbitration offers neared during the winter meetings last December, the Padres saw a chance to acquire closer Huston Street from the Rockies and grabbed it.

That set off a chain reaction that sent K-Rod, with an opportunity to close for the Padres having slipped away, back to the Brewers.

When he informed Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin he intended to accept the Brewers' arbitration offer on Dec. 7, the GM then had to inform reliever LaTroy Hawkins that if he had an offer with another club, he'd better take it.

The Brewers wanted Hawkins back and were closing in on a one-year, $2.5 million deal with him. But their budget was blown the minute K-Rod accepted arbitration.

Hawkins recovered nicely, landing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Angels on the same night Rodriguez informed the Brewers he would accept arbitration.

Knowing all winter that they were about to lose Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Marlins on Dec. 2, the Padres worked multiple fronts to land a replacement.

They spoke with the A's about Bailey.

They talked with free agent Frank Francisco, who wound up signing a two-year, $12 million deal with the Mets.

They were very serious with Rodriguez who, as it turned out, watched his last chance to close melt away when the Padres acquired Street (John Axford closes for Milwaukee).

"It was one of those everything is happening at once things," Padres GM Josh Byrnes said last week in Arizona. "We had been pursuing Street for three or four weeks, and Dan [O'Dowd, Rockies GM] and I had negotiated the salary part of it and the players we were going to give him.

"We decided if we could get Street, that was the guy we were going to try and reel in."

The Brewers were a little nervous regarding Rodriguez's frame of mind when he showed up this spring given that he couldn't find a job as a closer. But he reported to camp in terrific spirits.

"Trust me," he said earlier this spring. "If I did not feel comfortable at all last year, or did not feel, or any of my family did not like the city, trust me, the way they made me feel made my decision a lot easier.

"I'm really honored and happy to be here."

Bailey was the last to go, when Oakland sent him to Boston along with outfielder Ryan Sweeney for outfielder Josh Reddick, right-hander Raul Alcantara and first baseman Miles Head on Dec. 28.

"This is the big leagues," Bailey told me here Thursday. "Not that Oakland wasn't. ..."

A two-time All-Star, Bailey is excited with his first real opportunity to win and is undaunted at the prospect of replacing Boston's all-time saves leader, Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Philadelphia.

"I'm always going to get that question, I know that," Bailey said. "For me, it's an opportunity to help this franchise win another World Series and a chance to win one for myself.

"He's moved on. He's the all-time saves leader here. I respect that. It's about moving on in both of our careers."

It was the theme of the winter, for a lot of these guys.


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