The Mets placed OF Bobby Bonilla on unconditional release waivers after he agreed to defer some of the $5.9 million he's owed over the next two seasons. Bonilla, who will be 37 this season, hit only .160 last year with four home runs and 18 RBI in 119 at-bats.

UMPIRES: Richie Phillips's Major League Umpires Association starts its effort today to overturn the election it lost two months ago. Phillips's group goes to the National Labor Relations Board, which is holding a hearing to consider the MLUA's request for a new election.

BELTRE: The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance against Commissioner Bud Selig. The union was angered when Selig decided last month not to make a free agent of Dodgers 3B Adrian Beltre. While Selig concluded Beltre was under the age minimum of 16 when the Dodgers signed him in 1994, he ruled Beltre made his claim for free agency too late.

HIRED: The Brewers hired former Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson as an advance scout. Johnson, 50, managed the Blue Jays to an 88-74 record and a third-place finish in the AL East in 1998. The Blue Jays fired Johnson last March after it was discovered that he lied about his experience in Vietnam. He never served in Vietnam.

ORIOLES: The Orioles signed RHP Jose Mercedes to a minor league contract. Mercedes, 29, has an 11-15 record and 4.54 ERA in parts of five seasons with the Brewers, but spent 1999 at Class AAA, going 5-9 with a 3.70 ERA. He started his career in the Orioles organization.