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Giants productive at Winter Meetings

Giants productive at Winter Meetings

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was a big roster-bolstering day for the Giants on Monday at the Winter Meetings.

The club inked former infield fixture Rich Aurilia to a two-year deal worth around $8 million, re-signed third baseman Pedro Feliz to a one-season pact and have reportedly agreed to a contract with ex-Toronto catcher Bengie Molina.

Molina's three-year contract hinges on the 32-year-old veteran passing a physical, according to Yahoo.com. His signing has been immiment, especially with veteran Mike Matheny still recovering from post-concussion syndrome and unlikely to return next year.

Asked to comment on the Molina signing, a Giants spokesman said, "I have nothing to report on that."

Matheny will undergo a critical examination in midweek to determine his status for next season, and Giants general manager Brian Sabean said on Monday that the veteran could suffer a relapse with any foul tip or collision even if medically cleared to play.

"He's definitely coming to a crossroads," said Sabean, who would welcome Matheny to the coaching ranks in the future. "Mike is a very proud guy who loves the game."

Molina's defensive skills have eroded, and the Blue Jays opted to keep Gregg Zaun as their starter.

Aurilia, meantime, said he's excited about returning to San Francisco.

"It's a place that feels like home to me," said Aurilia, 35, a fan favorite and shortstop there for eight years starting in 1995. "We have a lot of great memories there from the past. The Giants have never treated me with anything but respect, and they were at the top of my list."

Aurilia's asking price and shrinking defensive range prompted the Giants to say goodbye after the 2003 season.

He floated between Seattle and San Diego in 2004 with a mediocre .246 average and little power, but rediscovered both in a two-year stint with Cincinnati the past two seasons, knocking in 138 RBIs and hitting 37 homers. He hit .282 in 2005 and .300 last season.

Aurilia earned $1.3 million for the Reds in 2006 and was extremely versatile, playing all infield positions, but he declined salary arbitration and now joins the Giants as the starting first baseman.

And as a hop-scotcher to other spots as well.

"I felt I got decent playing time at first last year and improved as the year went on," said Aurilia. "But actually I feel comfortable playing anywhere."

While manager Bruce Bochy doesn't have a set lineup yet, he loves the versatility both Aurilia and Feliz bring, with the latter a decent first baseman and emergency outfielder.

"Aurilia is a good hitter who can drive in runs and score a lot of runs," he said. "He can bat anywhere in the lineup -- third or sixth, seventh or eighth."

Feliz struggled at times last season, especially in mid-summer after not missing a game, but rebounded with a strong September for an overall .244 average. Although the Giants declined arbitration for Feliz, he was always on their radar screen.

"Pedro will be better for what he did last year and the innings that he played," said. "Having versatile players like him and Aurilia allows you to do certain things and rest certain players. It's nice to have that luxury."

The Giants declined arbitration of first baseman Shea Hillenbrand, but Aurilia is up for the job. He started 47 games there for the Reds last year and also played third in 52 games.

Feliz, 31, flew in from the Dominican Republic for a physical and to meet Bochy here in the shadow of Disney World, and Feliz reported he's boosted his offseason workouts to be better prepared for the 2007 season.

"I'm doing a lot of core exercises and a lot of hitting -- maybe a little more than before," said Feliz, who appeared a little too heavy entering last season, then played every game in the first half and then some. He obviously wore down, at least from observers' perspectives.

"At that time, I never felt tired," he said, "But maybe that affected me. I wouldn't use that as an excuse. I do think my numbers will be better next year."

Bochy explained he will do his best to keep Feliz from wearing down.

"He's the kind of player who can grind it out for the most part," said Bochy. "If he needs a day off here or there it's my job to keep him fresh."

A seven-year veteran, Feliz is a homegrown Giant and one of only 10 San Francisco players to have three consecutive campaigns of at least 20 homers and 80 RBIs. He has driven in 263 runs the past three years.

"Pedro has certainly done a lot for our club over the last few years, obviously driving in a lot of runs and has provided a lot of versatility," said Sabean. "Nobody has played more games for us over the last three years, so his durability is certainly an advantage."

Sabean indicated the club will seek a pitcher -- probably a starter and most likely a reliever -- via the trade route.

San Francisco is still trying to work a three-team deal to acquire Boston slugger Manny Ramirez, and sources in Washington report the Nationals could work a trade involving sending closer Chad Cordero and others to the Red Sox, with Ramirez going to the Giants.

Sabean said in trying to acquire big hitters such as Carlos Lee, who signed with Houston, wouldn't be a detriment to keeping Barry Bonds for another season.

Rumors are also floating involving the Giants' interest in right-handed slugger Richie Sexson from Seattle.

The Giants have also shown interest to fill a left-handed bopper role with San Diego free agent Ryan Klesko, who missed most of last year after shoulder surgery.

Klesko, 35, earned $9 million last year and hit 272 homers from 1993 to 2005 with Atlanta and the Padres. However, it's unlikely the veteran would be enamored with a bench role.

In other news, Sabean said the team is close to offering former manager Felipe Alou a job as a special assistant to the GM. Alou would be involved at the Major League and Minor League levels, be active during Spring Training and occasionally work at AT&T Park.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
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