Jaret Wright, one of the Washington Nationals' top free agent pitching targets, has agreed to terms with the New York Yankees, a major league source said last night. The contract is believed to be comparable to the three-year, $22.5 million pact Kris Benson signed with the New York Mets last month.
Wright's agent, Craig Landis, did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment. The deal could be announced today. Wright went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA for the Atlanta Braves in 2004, when he made $850,000.
The Nationals, who were willing to sign Wright for three years but for considerably less money, thus head to baseball's winter meetings, which begin Friday in Anaheim, Calif., with one fewer pitching target. Reached last night, interim general manager Jim Bowden wouldn't specifically comment on whom he covets.
"All I can say is we're going after pitching," he said.
Two major league sources said the Nationals continue to pursue free agent Odalis Perez, late of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and have discussed left-handed reliever Steve Kline of the St. Louis Cardinals. Another major league source said Bowden has pursued a trade for Shawn Chacon of the Colorado Rockies.
Meantime, the Nationals yesterday declined to offer salary arbitration to their only free agents, third baseman Tony Batista and backup catcher Einar Diaz. The moves had been expected since last month, when the club signed replacements for both -- Vinny Castilla at third base and backup catcher Gary Bennett.
OTHER NEWS: Nomar Garciaparra enjoyed his brief stay with the Chicago Cubs so much he's coming back. The five-time all-star shortstop agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract that could rise to $11 million with performance bonuses.
Garciaparra would make $500,000 each for 535 and 550 plate appearances. He also gets $400,000 each for making 130, 135, 140, 145 and 150 starts.
The Cubs also agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year deal with second baseman Todd Walker. . . .
After a series of goodbyes that started in September, the Cincinnati Reds cut final ties with shortstop Barry Larkin. The Reds declined to offer their team captain salary arbitration after a 19-year career with his hometown team. Also, outfielder Darren Bragg and pitchers Todd Van Poppel and Gabe White, the other three arbitration-eligible Reds, also were told they would not be offered arbitration. . . .
Detroit Tigers outfielder Craig Monroe was arrested for allegedly stealing a $29.99 belt from a department store, a records clerk at Charlotte County jail in Port Charlotte, Fla., said. Monroe reportedly wrapped the belt around his waist and tried to leave the store without paying Friday. He posted $500 bond and was released. . . .
Right-hander Brad Radke stayed with the Minnesota Twins, agreeing to a two-year contract. . . .
The Yankees reached a preliminary agreement with Tony Womack (.397, 26 steals with Cardinals) on a $4 million, two-year contract, giving New York a starting second baseman to replace Miguel Cairo.