Angelos vetoes O's-Reds trade Cincinnati sought too much cash in Hammonds deal

August 10, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos yesterday interceded in a trade that would have sent outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder/third baseman Willie Greene due to financial considerations and certain "intangibles" surrounding the deal, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The trade, which one party described as "99 percent a done deal" as of Friday night, remains possible, but is more likely to be restructured to include another Reds player. Outfielder Reggie Sanders is among those players who might replace Greene in a future deal. One Orioles official classified the deal for Greene as "not dead, but in serious doubt."

A trade for Greene has been discussed for more than a week. Reds general manager Jim Bowden initially pushed for the Orioles to include a high-ceiling prospect such as outfielder Darnell McDonald or catcher Jayson Werth in the deal. When that proposal was rejected, he sought cash instead.

Negotiated between assistant general manager Kevin Malone and Bowden, the deal apparently reached Angelos early yesterday.

Not only would the Orioles have been obligated to buy out Hammonds' $250,000 no-trade clause, but they also would have had to pay the Reds up to $1 million, according to sources. Hammonds is in the first season of a three-year, $7 million contract but is earning only $1.25 million this year. The Reds apparently sought to defray the future cost of the contract for a player with a checkered medical history.

A high-ranking Orioles official denied that Angelos' veto had anything to do with speculation that Greene's arrival would signal a countdown to the end of Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak. "Politically, that would be impossible," the official said. Likewise, the possible perception that the club erred in giving Hammonds a three-year contract had no part in the deal's apparent collapse.

Hammonds did not play as talks intensified Friday. However, he returned to the lineup yesterday against Twins left-hander Dan Serafini and went 1-for-4.

Hammonds, hampered by a disk-related nerve condition for much of this season, continues to receive treatment for a sore left wrist. He is hitting .269 with six home runs, seven stolen bases and 28 RBIs in 171 at-bats. His .456 slugging percentage equals Roberto Alomar's, but his injury-related absences have pushed the Orioles to seek a deal.

Greene, used primarily by the Reds against right-handed pitching, has been followed by the tag of a poorly motivated player. Like Hammonds, Greene is a former first-round draftee. Like Hammonds, he is considered blessed with enormous potential that has never fully revealed itself. However, Hammonds proved last year that he can perform in an everyday role when healthy. Hammonds, gifted enough to play every outfield position, hit a career-high 21 home runs along with 55 RBIs in 397 at-bats last season.

"I can't worry about anything I can't control," Hammonds said. "A move like this is not what I have to think about."

Trade rumors and Hammonds have been inseparable for several years. Last spring's agreement on a multi-year deal temporarily halted the speculation that had accompanied him ever since the arrival of Pat Gillick as general manager in 1995.

For his part, Hammonds admitted little surprise over the recent resurrection.

"It's part of the game," he said. "You can't take anything for granted. You just deal with it. I'm in there today. I'm seeing every lefty they throw at us. That's what my role is on this team."


Orioles' record: 60-56........ Extra innings: 3-1

At home: 33-25................ Series wins: 18

On road: 27-31................ Series losses: 16

On grass: 52-46............... Series splits: 7

On turf: 8-10................. Series sweeps: 7

Day games: 17-17.............. Vs. AL East: 14-17

Night games: 43-39............ Vs. AL Central: 23-13

One-run games: 13-14.......... Vs. AL West: 18-15

Two-run games: 7-10........... Vs. NL: 5-11

Pub Date: 8/10/98

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