Billy Koch's reward for being the American League's top closer is a moving van.

The Oakland Athletics shipped Koch to the Chicago White Sox in a six-player trade, dumping yet another big salary with an eye toward future payrolls.

"My initial reaction was, 'What's a guy got to do to stay with the team?' " said Koch, who was traded to Oakland by Toronto last December. "It's sort of frustrating, but then you turn around and look at it as a new start. I look at it as a challenge."

In exchange for Koch and two minor leaguers, the Athletics got White Sox closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson, minor league right-hander Joe Valentine and cash. . . .

The Los Angeles Dodgers reached a tentative agreement with the Cubs to trade first baseman Eric Karros and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek to Chicago for catcher Todd Hundley. The Cubs, retooling their roster under new manager Dusty Baker, and Dodgers were given 72 hours to finalize the deal. Hundley and Grudzielanek must agree to have their contracts restructured.

Meantime, the Cubs and free agent reliever Mike Remlinger finalized a $10.65 million, three-year deal. He was 7-3 with a 1.99 ERA for Atlanta and made the all-star team last season.

Pro Basketball

Mutombo to Have Wrist Surgery

Dikembe Mutombo will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist, sidelining the New Jersey Nets center for at least two months.

Mutombo, a former Georgetown star, tore the ligament Thursday night when he was hit on the wrist by Eric Piatkowski of the Los Angeles Clippers.

"I know he is disappointed," Nets Coach Byron Scott said. "I know he's one of those guys who wanted to wait a little while to see if he could play."


Augusta Member Resigns

Augusta National Golf Club showed no signs of bowing to pressure to allow women to join, even after a former television executive became the first member to defect from the club over the issue.

Former CBS chief executive Thomas H. Wyman leveled a parting shot while resigning from the club where he has been a member for 25 years, calling Augusta National's stand on female members "pigheaded" and saying up to a quarter of the club's 300 members feel the same way he does.

Pro Hockey

Flames Fire Gilbert

The last-place Calgary Flames fired coach Greg Gilbert and assistant Brad McCrimmon after losing 11 of 12 games and enduring one of the worst months in team history.

General Manager Craig Button said assistant GM Al MacNeil will serve as interim coach. . . .

Florida Panthers left wing Peter Worrell received a 10-day jail sentence, one year of probation and a five-year suspension of his driver's license after pleading no contest to driving under the influence. . . .

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Dick Tarnstrom will be sidelined two to four weeks with a broken left foot.


United's Ammann Retires

D.C. United goalkeeper Mike Ammann, who missed this past MLS season because of nerve damage in both elbows, announced his retirement. Ammann, 31, joined United in 2001 and started 19 games before getting injured and undergoing surgery. His comeback attempt this year failed after complications developed with the elbows. Before joining United, Ammann played for New York/New Jersey and Kansas City. Ammann had told The Post earlier this fall that he was planning to retire. . . .

Real Madrid won the Toyota Cup in Yokohama, Japan, beating Olimpia of Paraguay, 2-0, on goals by Ronaldo and Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez.

In winning the game between the European and South American champions, Real Madrid earned the unofficial title of world club champion.

Oakland sent Billy Koch, the American League's top reliever last season, to the Chicago White Sox in a six-player trade. Athletics got reliever Keith Foulke.