The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Mo Vaughn will not play baseball in 2004 and is doubtful for 2005 because of an arthritic left knee.
The injured New York Mets first baseman went on the disabled list May 3 with joint and cartilage damage in his knee and didn't play again last season.
Vaughn hoped to go to spring training, but after working all winter he had been advised not to try a comeback, the 36-year-old said in a conference call Thursday.
"From what the doctors say, it would be tough this season and it's not very bright for years to come," Vaughn said.
"I worked hard this offseason trying to put strength in the knee," Vaughn said. "An athlete knows his body. You know pain. You feel it in your bones. You've got to get up, get on with life and keep moving."
Vaughn is owed $15 million for 2004, the final year of an $80 million contract he signed in 1999. The Mets have a $14 million option with a $2 million buyout in 2005. Insurance on the deal will reimburse the team for 75 percent of the contract once he misses 90 days.
Mets general manager Jim Duquette refused to discuss that issue.
Agent Jeff Moorad, would not call Thursday's announcement a retirement, even though prospects for Vaughn playing again seem slim at best.
Vaughn, the 1995 AL MVP with Boston, has 328 career homers, 1,064 RBI and a .293 batting average in 12 major league seasons.
DEVIL RAYS: Aubrey Huff was rewarded Thursday for being one of two AL players to finish among the top 10 in all three triple crown categories when he agreed to a $14.5 million, three-year contract to remain with Tampa Bay.
The 27-year-old infielder/outfielder hit .311 with 34 homers and a franchise-record 107 RBI in 2003, his first full season in the majors.
Huff received a $500,000 signing bonus and will earn salaries of $2.5 million in 2004, $4.75 million in 2005 and $6.75 million in 2006. The Devil Rays also agreed to a one-year deal with Robert Fick.
MARINERS: Seattle agreed to terms with free agent shortstop Rich Aurilia on Thursday, then traded Carlos Guillen to the Detroit Tigers for Ramon Santiago and minor league shortstop Juan Gonzalez. Aurilia's contract is believed to be a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.
The 32-year-old Aurilia has spent 10 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, hitting .277. He has a career hitting average of .278 and a career fielding average of .972.
The 28-year-old Guillen hit .276 in 109 games last season, splitting time at shortstop and third base. He's been plagued by minor injuries during his five years in the majors.
INDIANS: Cleveland signed right-handed reliever Jose Jimenez to a one-year contract worth just over $1 million Thursday.
Jimenez gives the Indians a setup man who can also close games if Bob Wickman struggles in his return from elbow surgery.
The 30-year-old Jimenez is Colorado's career saves leader with 102.
ASTROS: Infielder John Valentin signed a minor league contract Thursday with Houston and will go to spring training with the team.
Valentin, who turns 37 next month, did not play in the majors last season. He spent 2002 with the New York Mets. Before joining the Mets, he played the first 10 seasons of his career in Boston.
CARDINALS: Right-hander Julian Tavarez agreed to a two-year contract with St. Louis, agent Scott Boras said Wednesday night.
Tavarez, a 30-year-old right-hander, gets $4.2 million: $1.6 million this season and $2.6 million in 2005.
He was 3-3 with 11 saves and a 3.66 ERA in 64 relief appearances for Pittsburgh last season.
YANKEES: Rick Down was hired as New York's coordinator of minor league instruction on Thursday, more than two months after being fired as the team's hitting coach.
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