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Tribe Trades Giles To Pirates

The Cleveland Indians, eager to prop up an aging bullpen, pried away left-handed reliever Ricardo Rincon from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday for outfielder Brian Giles.

The trade gives the offensively deficient Pirates a badly needed bat they tried to acquire at least twice before. The Indians get a left-handed setup man to complement Paul Assenmacher, who will be 38 next month.

"We gave up a good player, but we got a good player," Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay said.

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    Forum: Who got the best of this deal?

  • Giles, 27, hit .269 with 16 homers and 66 RBI in 112 games as a part-time starter last season. He can play left field -- the Pirates are trying to deal Al Martin -- or center field, but is only average defensively.

    A Giles error in left field also cost the Indians a run in their 9-5 loss to New York in the clinching game of the AL Championship Series.

    "He is a legitimate power bat who can play both corner outfield positions and is an aggressive hitter," Bonifay said.

    The trade could lead to at least two others involving Martin and second baseman Tony Womack, who may have lost his job when the Pirates signed free agent Mike Benjamin on Tuesday.

    Giles, a .284 career hitter, also fits the Pirates' budget. His base salaries are $800,000 in 1999, $1.55 million in 2000 and $2.55 million in 2001, with plate-appearance bonuses that could add $200,000 per season.

    "It does seem like I've been going there for 3-4 years," Giles said. "It's always been in the rumors, so I guess it was always in the back of my ind I'd wind up in Pittsburgh."

    Rincon, 28, is best known for teaming with Francisco Cordova on a 10-inning no-hitter against Houston in July 1997. He also was one of the NL's most reliable left-handed relievers the last two seasons, going 4-10 with 18 saves and a 3.17 ERA in 122 games.

    "Traditionally, we have looked to build a very strong bullpen every year," Indians general manager John Hart said. "We felt one of the pieces we were missing was a lights-out left-hander."

    Hart projects Rincon as a one-inning setup reliever for closer Mike Jackson.

    "This is a sign of us doing what has worked for us for the last four or five years. Championship clubs need to have a strong bullpen," Hart said. "We've done it with good starters and a quality bullpen."

    Rincon (0-2, 2.91 ERA, 14 saves last season) was expendable because the Pirates already have a solid left-handed reliever in Jason Christiansen.

    By dealing for Giles, the Pirates continue trying to upgrade what was the NL's worst power-hitting team last season.

    The Pirates, who hope to move into a new stadium in 2001, also have made their first significant proposal to a free agent in seven years by offering a multiyear deal to Baltimore Orioles outfielder-third baseman B.J. Surhoff.

    Team sources discounted published reports the offer was $20 million over four years, but the deal apparently is worth more than their entire $14 million payroll last season.

    Pirates managing general partner Kevin McClatchy signed off on the proposal to the 34-year-old Surhoff, who made $1.3 million last season.

    "He gave me the approval to make the offer, and I'm enthusiastic and hopeful," Bonifay said. "Whether he (Surhoff) is ready to move on or stay in Baltimore, I can't say."

    The Indians probably aren't done dealing, either. They're looking for another starting pitcher and are negotiating with free-agent second-baseman Roberto Alomar.

    "The Indians never sleep," Hart said.

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