The Los Angeles Dodgers, seeking to bolster their bullpen and give themselves financial flexibility, traded third baseman Bobby Bonilla to the New York Mets Wednesday for right-hander Mel Rojas and cash.
The switch-hitting Bonilla, hampered by injuries last year, batted .249 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in 100 games following off-season surgery on his left wrist and left Achilles' tendon.
Bonilla was traded to the Dodgers on May 15 along with Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson and Jim Eisenreich and a minor-league pitcher for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile as part of the Florida Marlins' payroll purge.
Piazza was traded to the Mets a week later and recently signed a $91 million, seven-year contract with them.
Bonilla, 35, played for the Mets for 3 ½ years before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles midway through the 1995 season. He is under contract for two more years at $5.9 million per season.
ROJAS, WHO TURNS 32 NEXT month, was a major disappointment for the Mets last year, going 5-2 with a 6.05 ERA and two saves in 50 games. He is signed for 1999 at $4.5 million.
Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone has said the team needed to bolster its bullpen. Rojas figures to pitch in a setup role to closer Jeff Shaw.
When the Dodgers hired Davey Johnson as their new manager last month, that spelled the end of Bonilla's tenure with them. The two clashed when Johnson managed the Baltimore Orioles and Bonilla didn't want to be a designated hitter.
Bonilla has 273 homers ihis big-league career, hitting a career-best 34 for the Mets in 1994. He began his big-league career with the Chicago White Sox in 1986, was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates during that season and then signed with the Mets as a free agent after the 1991 season. The Marlins signed him as a free agent after the 1995 season.
Rojas made his major-league debut with Montreal in 1990, and has also played for the Chicago Cubs. His best season was in 1996, when he went 7-4 with a 3.22 ERA and 36 saves for the Expos.
Rojas signed a with the Cubs after the 1996 season and was a bust, going 0-4 with a 4.22 ERA and 13 saves before he was traded to the Mets that Aug. 8 with outfielder Brian McRae and pitcher Turk Wendell for outfielder Lance Johnson, pitcher Mark Clark and infielder Manny Alexander. During the remainder of the 1997 season, Rojas was 0-2 with two saves and a 5.13 ERA.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved