The Washington Nationals yesterday agreed to terms on 2005 contracts with three more members of their 40-man roster -- outfielder J.J. Davis and right-handed pitchers Josh Karp and Danny Rueckel -- further preparing themselves for spring training next week.
Of the three, Davis is the one who might be able to make an impact on the Nationals' major league roster this season. A former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was acquired by Washington in a trade for outfielder Antonio Sucre in November. At the time of the deal, Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden hoped Davis could rediscover some of his potential and earn a spot as the team's fourth outfielder.
Indications over the offseason prove that might happen. Davis, 26, has hit just .162 in 80 major league at-bats. But he hit .313 with 10 home runs in just 131 at-bats with Navojoa in the Mexican Winter League over the winter. Should Davis have legitimately improved, he could push center fielder Endy Chavez -- who has a .303 career on-base percentage -- for a starting job.
Rueckel, 25, was one of the best pitchers in the franchise's minor league system last season, going 7-5 with a 2.16 ERA with Class AA Harrisburg and AAA Edmonton. The Class AAA affiliate has since moved to New Orleans. He must beat out several players to win a job in the Nationals' bullpen.
Karp, 25, was the sixth player taken in the 2001 draft, but went just 4-10 with a 5.95 ERA with Edmonton. He is unlikely to win a spot on Washington's staff.
CUBS: Chicago traded right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth and a player to be named to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Roberto Novoa and two minor leaguers.
Farnsworth was 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA last season and struck out 78 batters in 66 2/3 innings.
In six seasons with the Cubs, the 28-year-old Farnsworth went 22-37 with a 4.78 ERA.
Last month Farnsworth avoided arbitration and signed a one year contract for $1.975 million, a raise from $1.4 million a year ago.
Farnsworth was also the target of Wrigley Field boo birds last season when he struggled, and his frustrations boiled over after a 15-7 loss to Houston in late August when he gave up six runs in the ninth inning.
He threw his glove in the stands as he departed and then kicked an electric fan in the runway between the dugout and clubhouse. The next day he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained and bruised right knee.
The deal came a week after the Cubs sent Sammy Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles for Jerry Hairston and two prospects.
Novoa split time between Detroit and Class AA Erie in 2004. In 16 games with the Tigers, the right-hander was 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA.
Chicago also picked up third baseman Scott Moore and outfielder Bo Flowers in the trade.
Moore hit .223 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 118 games at Class A Lakeland last season. Flowers played the majority of the season at Class A Oneonta, hitting .280 with 4 home runs and 26 RBI in 66 games.
ATHLETICS: Ken Macha is content to manage Oakland this season without a contract extension. Macha's three-year deal is up after this season, and he doesn't believe anything will get done before Opening Day -- partly by his choice.
"I'm comfortable with the way things are," Macha said during a luncheon with media members. "My focus is on the team right now. I'm confident things will work out."
A's General Manager Billy Beane offered Macha an extension two weeks ago through the manager's agent, Alan Nero, but "there really haven't been any negotiations," Macha said.
MLB: The 2007 All-Star Game will return to San Francisco for the first time in more than two decades, giving the Giants a big draw for season ticket holders the year after Barry Bonds's contract expires.
Commissioner Bud Selig made the announcement at Willie Mays Plaza outside the Giants' waterfront stadium.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.