Expos trade Cabrera to Red Sox

Garciaparra, Gonzalez, Mientkiewicz also change addresses

Wondering where the Montreal Expos will play next season is no longer a worry for Orlando Cabrera.

The talented shortstop was dealt to the Boston Red Sox - pending approval - as part of a four-team deal prior to Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline Saturday afternoon.

The Red Sox, who also acquired first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz from Minnesota, sent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs, who then shipped shortstop Alex Gonzalez to Montreal.

Cabrera is expected to be a defensive upgrade from Garciaparra, who struggled in the field all season.

A career .267 hitter, Cabrera hit a disappointing .246 for the 40-63 Expos this season with four home runs and 31 runs batted in.

Montreal, which occupies the National League East basement, is rumoured to be on the move to several cities, including Washington, Northern Virginia, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Va., Portland, Ore., and Monterey, Mexico.

"Keep going to the games," Cabrera, a free agent after this season, told Expos fans earlier in the week. "It's not the players fault, the way they treat us. This is a great team, really talented, young guys.

"Just the fact that I didn't sign back with the team, you can tell from there that I don't like the situation. I'm really excited. I'm going to a contending team. They're fighting for the wild card right now. Obviously, I have to fill some big shoes with Nomar."

Cabrera, 29, finished his seven-plus years with Montreal going 2-for-5 with an RBI in Friday's 9-0 rout of the Marlins in Florida.

His best season in Montreal came in 2001 when he batted .276 with 14 home runs and 96 RBIs.

Montreal also picked up a pair of minor-leaguers in the blockbuster deal - pitcher Francis Beltran and infielder Brendan Harris.

Garciaparra, 31, is a five-time all-star and a two-time AL batting champion, and is in the final year of his contract. The trade brought an end to his stellar career in Boston, one which was overshadowed for the past year by trade rumours and an injury.

"I think he will bring a ton to the table and a presence on the field and off," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "You never go to work thinking he's going to be available."

Garciaparra sat out Friday night's game against Minnesota because of soreness. He is batting .321 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 38 games this season. He missed 57 games earlier in the season with an injured Achilles tendon.

Last winter, after Garciaparra rejected a four-year, $60 million US extension, the Red Sox tried furiously to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas to play shortstop.

Although it would have been Manny Ramirez going to the Rangers, the Red Sox would have then shipped out Garciaparra, possibly to either the Chicago White Sox or Los Angeles. Instead, Rodriguez went to the New York Yankees - to play third base - and Garciaparra stayed and stewed.

Confessing that his feelings were hurt, he said he still wanted to finish his career with the Red Sox.

Garciaparra's best season was 1998, when he batted .323 with 35 HRs and 122 RBIs.

Chicago also obtained pitcher Matt Murton.

Gonzalez, a former Toronto Blue Jay, has played just 36 games this season, collecting two homers and eight RBIs.

The American League Central-leading Twins (57-45) receive prospect Justin Jones in return for Mientkiewicz, a .246 hitter in 78 games this season.

with files from Associated Press