Indians, O's still talking trade Outfielders Burnitz, Bonilla are focus

July 05, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

The proposed five-player deal between the Orioles and Cleveland Indians that involved Eddie Murray and Bobby Bonilla is dead. But apparently, trade talks between the teams are not.

The News-Herald, of Willoughby, Ohio, is reporting today that officials from the Orioles and Indians are talking about other combinations, with the Orioles primarily interested in acquiring outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and Cleveland focusing on Bonilla.

Crediting sources within the Cleveland organization, the News-Herald reports the first deal of Bonilla and Jeffrey Hammonds to Cleveland for Murray, Burnitz and minor-league pitcher Albie Lopez was vetoed by Orioles owner Peter Angelos; the Cleveland sources indicated their understanding was that Angelos didn't want to deal Bonilla now that he's hitting well, after an early-season slump.

Angelos was unavailable for comment yesterday. (Deals of major substance are typically subject to approval of the owners in baseball.)

The Orioles want Burnitz, 27, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who vTC likely would get a chance to step into their starting lineup, and the Indians have no immediate need for Burnitz, with an outfield of Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton and Manny Ramirez.

But the Indians are waiting for an acceptable offer from the Orioles, preferably one that includes Bonilla. "The ball is in their court," said one member of the Cleveland organization.

The Indians may be intent on dealing Murray, however, which would allow them to move Julio Franco from first base to designated hitter.

Murray reportedly is not on speaking terms with Cleveland general manager John Hart, a rift that may have started during contract negotiations last fall.

Murray, 40, eventually signed a one-year deal for $2 million; the contract includes a no-trade clause, which Murray would have to waive if the Indians wanted to deal him to the Orioles.

Right now, the source said, the Orioles are the only team that seems to have some interest in Murray, who is hitting .264 and isn't driving the ball as much as he has in the past.

The News-Herald offered other details from the Indians' sources: The only way Cleveland would part with Burnitz in a deal that doesn't include Bonilla is if the Orioles gave up a starting major-league position player or pitcher.

Cleveland is not that interested in Hammonds, because the Indians view him as a corner outfielder without much power, and have questions about his desire to become a top-flight major-league player.

Left-hander Kent Mercker has been mentioned in the trade talks, but the Indians have terrible reports on him and would not want to consider taking on his $2.825 million price tag (or about half of that, now that the season has reached its midway point) unless the Orioles included Bonilla.

The Orioles want pitcher Lopez, but Cleveland won't include him unless Bonilla is in the deal.

Pub Date: 7/05/96

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