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Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Updated: December 8, 1:32 PM ET
Womack gets $4M; Wright $21M news services

On Tuesday, the Yankees began to put together the club they hope will dethrone the Red Sox.

New York signed starting pitcher Jaret Wright to a three-year, $21 million deal and second baseman and leadoff hitter Tony Womack to a two-year, $4 million contract,'s Jayson Stark has learned.

Tony Womack

Jaret Wright

Official announcements are expected later this week.

The Yankees also offered salary arbitration to Jon Lieber and Orlando Hernandez before the midnight deadline, giving the team until Jan. 8 to re-sign two key members of last season's rotation.

The Cardinals wanted to re-sign Womack, but got hung up negotiating with Edgar Renteria, Stark reported. St. Louis wasn't ready to make an offer until it knew how much they have to pay Renteria, if he re-signs with the Cardinals.

The Yankees mostly used Miguel Cairo at second base last season, but New York couldn't agree on a contract with him before the arbitration deadline, Stark reported.

Switch-hitter Ruben Sierra was offered arbitration, but Cairo was not.

"We're going in another direction," general manager Brian Cashman told The AP.

The Yankees declined to offer arbitration to six other free agents: first basemen John Olerud, Tony Clark and Travis Lee, right-hander Esteban Loaiza, infielder Enrique Wilson and left-hander C.J. Nitkowski. Olerud's departure might lead to New York signing Tino Martinez.

Womack, seemingly on the downside of his career before last season, filled huge holes at leadoff and second base for the Cardinals -- the NL's best team.

At the plate, the 34-year-old Womack recaptured the success he had in his prime. He batted .307 in 553 at-bats, scoring 91 runs and stealing 26 bases, while compiling a .349 on-base percentage.

That's a major improvement over 2003, when he hit a career-worst .226 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs.

From 1997, his first full season in the majors, through 2000 Womack averaged 59 steals per season. He led the NL three times in that stretch.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.