Las Vegas — Desperate for a closer, the New York Mets landed the top one available: Francisco Rodriguez.
Now, they have to figure out how to hand him the lead.
Coming off a record-setting season, Rodriguez reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday with the Mets on a $37 million, three-year contract.
The sides still have to work out a written agreement and the pitcher must pass a physical, two people familiar with the negotiations said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been completed yet.
The agreement was reached Tuesday about 5 a.m., but the contract probably won’t be finalized until next week at the earliest.
“Tired today,” general manager Omar Minaya said, though he wouldn’t confirm a deal for K-Rod. “We have a lot of stuff going on.”
Wood close to deal
Cleveland — The Cleveland Indians are close to getting their closer.
The club has offered free agent Kerry Wood, the former Chicago Cubs starter-turned-reliever, a two-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the sides are still working through details at the winter meetings in Las Vegas.
Manuel’s contract extended
Philadelphia — Winning the World Series was enough for the Philadelphia Phillies to want manager Charlie Manuel around a few more years.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro rewarded Manuel on Tuesday and picked up the option for 2010 on his contract and added a guaranteed year for 2011 — basically giving the folksy manager a three-year deal.
Kubek wins award
Las Vegas — Tony Kubek, an All-Star shortstop who became a fixture on NBC’s “Game of the Week” telecasts for more than two decades, was honored with the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award on Tuesday.
Brewers, Lamb agree
Milwaukee — Infielder Mike Lamb agreed to a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, setting up a potential platoon with Bill Hall at third base next season.
Latimore staying at KSU
Manhattan — Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder says Mo Latimore will continue his tenure with the Wildcats.
Snyder announced Tuesday he will keep Latimore with the team as the interior line coach.
It will be Latimore’s 25th season as an assistant coach in the Big 12, the longest tenure in the conference.
Auburn students protest
Auburn, Ala. — Dozens of Auburn University students and alumni marched across campus to the president’s mansion Tuesday to protest the school’s treatment of former football coach Tommy Tuberville.
OU assistant honored
Little Rock, Ark. — Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has won the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
UCF player still in hospital
Orlando, Fla. — Central Florida administrators are questioning the teammates of a freshman football player who collapsed during workouts last week.
Brandon Davis became dehydrated while participating in a weightlifting session and was taken to Florida Hospital East with kidney failure.
He remained hospitalized Tuesday as school officials began interviewing teammates who were present at the workout. President John Hitt said he expects the findings late this week.
Wake Forest LB honored
Winston-Salem, N.C. — Wake Forest senior Aaron Curry won the Butkus Award, which honors the nation’s top college linebacker.
Curry received 63 points in voting, finishing seven ahead of USC’s Rey Maualuga. James Laurinaitis from Ohio State, USC’s Brian Cushing and Boston College’s Mark Herzlich rounded out the top five.
Harrell: Leach likely to stay
New York — Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell isn’t so sure now that coach Mike Leach will be leaving Lubbock.
Harrell, who last week said there was a “great chance” Leach would leave the Red Raiders, reversed his opinion Tuesday because his coach didn’t fill the vacancy at Washington.
“I really thought a few weeks ago he might go,” Harrell said in a brief interview with the AP. “I thought the Washington job would be a great job for him. He loves the West Coast. He likes the Pac-10 conference.
“When he didn’t take that one, I figured, I think he’ll be back.”
Burress suspension appealed
East Rutherford, N.J. — The NFL Players Association filed a grievance on Tuesday challenging the suspension and fine given to Plaxico Burress by the New York Giants after the receiver accidentally shot himself in a nightclub more than a week ago.
The union said that the team violated the collective bargaining agreement last week when it placed Burress on the reserve-non football injury list, suspended him for the final four games of the regular season and fined him an additional week’s salary for conduct detrimental to the team.
Jones’ suspension upheld
Jacksonville, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars will play the rest of the season without their leading receiver.
The NFL upheld Matt Jones’ three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy Tuesday, meaning Jones will sit out the final three games without pay.
NFL to cut staff 10 percent
New York — The NFL pays its players billions of dollars a year and fans pack its stadiums every week. But even the deep-pocketed league is shedding jobs.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the league is cutting more than 10 percent of its staff in response to the downturn in the nation’s economy that could put a dent in ticket sales for next season.
Goodell announced the cuts in a memo to league employees. The NFL is eliminating about 150 of its staff of 1,100 in New York, NFL Films in New Jersey and television and Internet production facilities in Los Angeles.
Lions release CB Kelly
Detroit — The Detroit Lions released Brian Kelly on Tuesday, after the veteran cornerback had complained recently about his lack of playing time.
The 32-year-old Kelly suited up Sunday against Minnesota but did not play. He also did not play in Week 5 against Chicago.
Bears put nose tackle on IR
Lake Forest, Ill. — The Chicago Bears placed nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek on injured reserve with a torn right biceps on Tuesday, his third season-ending injury in as many seasons.
Madrid, Spain — Seve Ballesteros thanked doctors and staff for giving him the chance to play the “mulligan of my life” on Tuesday when he was released from the hospital more than two months after brain surgery to remove a malignant tumor.
Howard out indefinitely
Dallas — Josh Howard put his problematic left ankle into a walking boot Tuesday, and the Dallas Mavericks don’t know how long they’ll be without their second-leading scorer and rebounder.
McDyess back in Detroit
Auburn Hills, Mich. — Antonio McDyess re-signed with the Detroit Pistons a month after being dealt to Denver as part of the Allen Iverson trade.
The Pistons announced Tuesday that McDyess was back for the rest of the season, but did not disclose financial terms of the deal.
Lewis tops hall list
Canastota, N.Y. — Three-time heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis headlines the 2009 induction class into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Lewis enters as a modern era fighter, along with American bantamweight champion Orlando Canizales and South African junior lightweight champion Brian Mitchell.
Posthumous honorees are middleweight champion William “Gorilla” Jones, welterweight champion “Mysterious” Billy Smith and middleweight champion Billy Soose.