Orioles, Jays ponder trades before deadline Toronto appears more optimistic

July 29, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Roland Hemond passed up the two-game series against the Blue Jays in favor of baby-sitting his telephone. But the Orioles general manager doesn't sound as optimistic as his Toronto counterpart, Pat Gillick.

While Gillick says there is a "50-50 chance we'll get the pitcher we're after," Hemond wouldn't offer any odds. But neither did he rule out the possibility of the Orioles making a trade before the midnight Saturday deadline for non-waiver deals.

"It's like I always seem to be saying at these times -- I don't like to speculate until something gets done," Hemond said from his home in Baltimore. "But it's hard to read because you really don't know what other teams are thinking or what their strategy is."

An earlier report had the Orioles linked with the Cincinnati Reds, who have third baseman Chris Sabo and pitcher Tim Belcher on the trading block. When Leo Gomez went on the disabled list and subsequently underwent surgery on his left wrist, speculation about Sabo increased.

But there appears to be little possibility that the Orioles are willing to pay the asking price (in players) for the third baseman. "We've talked to just about every club," was all Hemond would say when asked if he had had any discussions with the Reds.

When it was suggested to manager Johnny Oates that Sabo might make a good fit with the Orioles, he virtually dismissed the possibility. "I don't think there's any chance of that happening -- not with what they want," said Oates.

Reports were that the Reds would trade Sabo, who has a $3 million salary and is eligible for free agency next year, for a prospect. "Prospect? The prospect they want is already here," said Oates.

He was referring to Jeffrey Hammonds, the rookie outfielder who is No. 1 on every team's shopping list when they talk to the Orioles. Any trade talks engaged in by the Orioles stop immediately whenever Hammonds' name is mentioned.

Although pitching has been a major asset for most of the season, the Orioles would still like to bolster their pitching staff for the stretch run. And, if the asking price was right, the Orioles would have to have interest in Sabo.

But whether Hemond can find the right pieces to make a deal is questionable. And he might have to outbid the Blue Jays in order to obtain a quality starter, although Gillick said he's not operating under the open checkbook policy.

Gillick admits that he walked away from a possible deal for right-hander Greg Harris, who went from the San Diego Padres to the Colorado Rockies because of the heavy financial strings that were attached.

"It was strictly a matter of money," said Gillick, noting that the Padres insisted that left-hander Bruce Hurst be included in any trade. "That would have meant we had to assume $4 million in contracts, plus we couldn't find a place on the roster for Hurst.

"There are people we want out there," said Gillick. "But it has to be someone we can afford."

While marketing for a pitcher (Belcher and Dennis Martinez are the most frequently mentioned names), the Blue Jays also are interested in adding an outfielder. Three names that have been mentioned are ex-Oriole Joe Orsulak, Shane Mack of the Minnesota Twins and Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics.

The idea of Henderson's joining a lineup that already includes Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter, John Olerud, Devon White and Ed Sprague is frightening. But, while it most likely is a long shot, some baseball insiders consider it a possibility.

It is known that the Blue Jays and A's have talked, but neither side has revealed the exact nature of the discussions. After his acquisition of David Cone last year, Gillick cannot be underestimated -- even after the trading deadline passes.

Following that date, all players changing teams will have to clear waivers. That won't necessarily stop trades (Cone was a waiver acquisition last year), but it makes the maneuvering a lot more complicated.

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