NEW YORK, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The New York Mets made another dramatic move to improve baseball's worst offense on Thursday night, acquring first baseman Mo Vaughn from the Anaheim Angels for righthander Kevin Appier and cash.
The Mets have scheduled a Noon EST news conference at Shea Stadium on Friday to introduce Vaughn.
"This is an unbelievable Christmas present for me and my family," Vaughn said. "I never thought this could happen."
The acquistion of Vaughn continues an aggressive offseason for the Mets, who already have added All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Roger Cedeno. The club also is reportedly interested in signing slugging outfielder Juan Gonzalez as a free agent.
"I am very, very excited," Vaughn said. "I wish we could start tommorow. I'm just a small piece to this powerful puzzle."
"To add a hitter like Mo is something we never envisioned," Mets general manager Steve Phillips added. "In typical years you don't have a chance to get a player of Mo's caliber."
It looked the deal hit a snag earlier this week, when the Mets wanted Vaughn to agree to defer a portion of the $50 million left on his contract.
But Vaughn's agent Jeff Moorad and Mets general manager Steve Phillips, the Players Association and the commissioner's office were able to sign off on a deal that reworked the slugger's contract.
Vaughn is due to make $10 million in 2002 and $15 million each of the following two years, with a club option for $14 million in 2005 or a $2 million buyout. He also has $8 million remaining from a deferred signing bonus.
A three-time All-Star and the 1995 American League Most Valuable Player, Vaughn comes to the Mets after missing the entire 2000 season with a ruptured left biceps tendon.
Vaughn, 34, is a lifetime .298 hitter with 299 homers and 977 RBI in 1,346 career games. He had 69 home runs and 225 RBI in two years with the Angels after spending eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox.
One season after going to the World Series, New York went just 82-80 in 2001. They finished with the fewest runs in the major leagues and also ranked near the bottom of the National League in batting average and homers.
The Mets particularly struggled at first base last season, where Todd Zeile batted just .266 with 10 homers and 62 RBI. Vaughn has hit at least 33 homers in each of last seasons.
Zeile, who recently underwent elbow surgey and has one-year remaining on his contract, is expected to be traded before Opening Day.
A native of Norwalk, Conn., Vaughn reportedly had become unhappy in Anaheim and was seeking a return to the East Coast.
By dealing Appier, the Mets will have a starting rotation of four lefthanders this season--Al Leiter, Shawn Estes, Glendon Rusch and Bruce Chen. Steve Trachsel is the lone righthander in the rotation.
A 13-year veteran, Appier went 11-10 with a 3.57 ERA in 33 games in his only campaign with the Mets last season. He worked 206 2/3 innings, the eighth time in his career that he reached the 200-inning mark in a season.
"We are very pleased to acquire a veteran pitcher the caliber of Kevin Appier," Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said. "His addition to a starting staff that inlcludes Aaron Sele, Ramon Ortiz, Jarrod Washburn and Scott Schoeneweis should make the Angels' rotation pretty formidable in 2002."
Appier, 34, owns a career mark of 147-115 and a 3.63 ERA while also pitching for Kansas City and Oakland.
On Wednesday, the Angels signed veteran righthander Aaron Sele to a reported three-year contract worth between $20 and $22 million.