Kevin Appier, Billy Taylor and Jim Leyritz switched teams, and Chuck Finley stayed put yesterday as baseball's midnight trading deadline expired.

Terry Mulholland and Shawon Dunston also were dealt in a flurry in the final minutes.

The busy Oakland Athletics shuffled their staff, bracing for a wild-card run. They got Appier from the Kansas City Royals and also sent Taylor to the New York Mets for Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael.

"They're in a step-on-the-gas mode," Appier said. "They think they've got a good thing going and they're trying to improve their team."

The Mets, meanwhile, made two other trades.

In a five-player swap with Colorado, the Mets obtained outfielder Darryl Hamilton and reliever Chuck McElroy for outfielder Brian McRae and two minor leaguers. Later, the Mets got infielder Shawon Dunston from St. Louis for minor leaguer Craig Paquette.

Also moving to New York -- again -- was Leyritz. The Yankees reacquired the postseason hero from the San Diego Padres for a minor league pitcher.

The Chicago Cubs traded Mulholland and infielder Jose Hernandez to Atlanta for minor league pitcher Micah Bowie, another minor leaguer and a player to be named.

And, in one last deal, Boston picked up pitcher Bryce Florie from Detroit.

Trades can still be made after the deadline, but players must first pass through waivers. That means any club can step in and block a potential deal.

There was no deal for Finley. Though the Yankees showed interest, the Cleveland Indians were believed to have pursued the Anaheim ace the most.

"Chuck Finley is still on the Angels," General Manager Bill Bavasi said. "We did not shop around, it came down to one club. We gave them a group of players we would take and it stayed there. They called and said they did not accept it."

Appier, 31, had been rumored in possible deals since spring training. The right-hander was 9-9 with a 4.87 ERA, and 114-89 in a career that began with the Royals in 1989.

Oakland traded three young pitchers for Appier: Blake Stein, Jeff D'Amico and Brad Rigby. The Athletics, 3 1/2 games behind Toronto in the wild-card race, also sent away the 37-year-old Taylor, who has 26 saves.

The Athletics recently traded pitcher Kenny Rogers to the Mets and also got pitcher Omar Olivares and infielder Randy Velarde from Anaheim.

"When we made all these deals, we had a grand plan in mind," Athletics GM Billy Beane said. "One had to fall in order for the other to fall. This is a big deal."

There had been talk the AL East-leading Yankees would send struggling starter Andy Pettitte to Philadelphia, but Manager Joe Torre said before yesterday's game at Boston, "I don't think it's going to happen."

In the meantime, the Yankees completed a deal for Leyritz.

"They could have traded me anywhere, but it shows the class of this organization to give me another opportunity back in New York," Leyritz said.

Leyritz, 35, is hitting .239 with eight home runs and 21 RBI. He can play first base or DH, and was Pettitte's personal catcher with the Yankees.

The Padres got minor league pitcher Geraldo Padua for Leyritz. The 22-year-old right-hander was 9-4 with a 2.86 ERA for Class A Greensboro.

Colorado and the Mets swapped center fielders and left-handed relievers. The Rockies also got pitcher Rigo Beltran and minor league outfielder Thomas Johnson.

And in a swap of 25-year-old minor league pitchers, the Florida Marlins sent Brandon Villafuerte to the Detroit Tigers for Mike Drumright.

the top trades

A look at some of the deals made last night before baseball's non-waiver trade deadline of midnight EDT:

Kevin Appier

Royals traded RHP Appier (9-9, 4.87 ERA) to Athletics for RHP Blake Stein (0-0, 16.88), RHP Brad Rigby (3-4, 4.33) and minor league RHP Jeff D'Amico.

Terry Mulholland

Cubs traded LHP Mulholland (6-6, 5.15), IF Jose Hernandez (.272, 15 HR, 43 RBI) to Braves for two minor leaguers and a player to be named.

Brian McRae

Mets traded OF McRae (.221, 8 HR, 36 RBI), LHP Rigo Beltran (1-1, 3.48), minor league OF Thomas Johnson to the Rockies for OF Darryl Hamilton (.303, 4 HR, 24 RBI) and LHP Chuck McElroy (3-1, 6.20).

Jim Leyritz

Padres traded utilityman Leyritz (.239, 8 HR, 21 RBI) to Yankees for minor league RHP Geraldo Padua.