DALLAS (AP) _ Alex Rodriguez found a new home _ and a quarter billion dollars _ in Texas, while Manny Ramirez bolted Cleveland for Boston as baseball's winter meeting climaxed in an unprecedented spending spree.

Rodriguez got the richest contract in sports Monday, a record-smashing $252 million, 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers _ double the previous high.

``Alex is the player we believe will allow this franchise to fulfill its dream of continuing on its path to becoming a World Series champion,'' Rangers owner Tom Hicks said.

Ramirez reached a preliminary agreement on a $160 million, eight-year contract with the Red Sox, according to a high-ranking baseball official familiar with the negotiations.

The 28-year-old outfielder turned down a $136 million, eight-year offer from the Indians, according to a source with knowledge of that team's offer, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.

His agent, Jeff Moorad, said earlier in the evening that all things being equal, his client would sign with Cleveland.

Darren Dreifort's return to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the New York Mets' signings of Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel also were announced, but the big contracts dominated a meeting that has produced just one major trade _ a six-player swap Monday between Detroit and Houston.

Before Monday, Ramirez's contract would have become the biggest in sports _ topping Kevin Garnett's $126 million, six-year agreement in October 1997 with the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.

That was dwarfed by Rodriguez's deal, which calls for a $10 million signing bonus paid over five years and salaries of $21 million in each of the first four years _ well above the $15.8 million Minnesota paid its entire team this season.

The 25-year-old Rodriguez gets $25 million a year in 2005 and 2006, and $27 million in each of the final four seasons. A total of $36 million is deferred at 3 percent interest, the money to be paid from 2011-2020.

Sandy Alderson, an executive vice president in baseball's commissioner's office, called the deal ``stupifying.''

``This amount of money spread out over 10 years could probably buy three franchises or so at the bottom end of market value,'' he said.

``I'm the whipping boy for `baseball games will destruct,''' said Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras.

``At first they were talking about 200 million _ 250 (million) came out of nowhere,'' said Rodriguez's new teammate, Rafael Palmeiro. ``It's just incredible.''

In other news:

_ The New York Mets completed their starting rotation, signing Appier and Trachsel. Appier will get $42 million for four years and Trachsel signed a $7 million, two-year deal.

_ Dreifort completed a $55 million, five-year contract with Los Angeles.

_ Detroit and Houston completed a trade that sent Roger Cedeno, Mitch Meluskey and Chris Holt to the Tigers, and Brad Ausmus, Doug Brocail and Nelson Cruz to the Astros.

_ The Mets traded outfielder Bubba Trammell to San Diego for reliever Donne Wall. They also signed outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo to a $700,000, one-year contract, the second non-pitcher from Japan to join the majors.

_ Jason Bere reached a preliminary deal with the Chicago Cubs on Monday that would pay him $4.5 million for two years.

_ The Anaheim Angels signed right-hander Pat Rapp and outfielder Kimera Bartee one-year contracts.

_ Infielder Jeff Frye to a $1 million, one-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

_ The Chicago Cubs selected right-hander Scott Chiasson from Oakland with the first pick in the major league draft.