Orioles won't count out an Alomar trade Cleveland, L.A. ask, but it's '90 percent' 2B will return to O's

Indians' offer may be Lofton

O's not in the chase for free agent Belle

November 17, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

For years, the Orioles hoped for the chance to acquire Roberto Alomar. Now they're at least entertaining the idea of trading the second baseman, and may have talked to the Cleveland Indians about a deal for center fielder Kenny Lofton.

Orioles general manager Pat Gillick confirmed yesterday that club officials have talked about trading Alomar, as they have many other players. "Basically, we would try to move anybody [in a direction] we think might help the team," Gillick said.

But when asked whether the Orioles discussed a possible trade for Lofton, Gillick danced around the question.

"We talked to the Indians about three or four different things," Gillick said. "I can't confirm or deny who we talked about. We discussed a lot of possibilities."

What are the chances that Alomar, a seven-time All-Star in nine major-league seasons, will be with the Orioles at the start of next season?

"Ninety percent," said Gillick. "I wouldn't say anything's in motion. We've talked about a number of different guys."

The Indians have compelling reasons to trade Lofton, who turns 30 next season. He becomes a free agent after next season (Lofton will earn $4.5 million in 1997), and Cleveland officials apparently think re-signing Lofton, perhaps the game's premier pure leadoff hitter, may be even more difficult than re-signing Albert Belle; Belle turned down an $8.5 million-a-year offer last week.

Alomar, 28, batted a career-high .328 last season and won his sixth straight Gold Glove Award. The Orioles might consider trading Alomar simply because they don't have a lot of marketable commodities, and he would certainly be worth at least three top-line prospects in a trade. Or maybe one Kenny Lofton.

Alomar signed a three-year contract before the 1996 season, for $18 million, with $5 million deferred. Considering how much Belle is being offered and what other players make, Alomar is a relative bargain.

Gillick, asked whether he thought Alomar's spitting at umpire John Hirschbeck in late September would have repercussions that could affect his play, said it would not.

The Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly have some interest in Alomar, and Gillick confirmed that the teams discussed possible trades. However, Gillick said the Orioles and Dodgers don't seem to match up well as trade partners, in whatever they discussed.

The Orioles are not in the running for Belle. Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said yesterday that he told Belle's agent, Arn Tellem, that the Orioles are "headed in another direction."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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