Reds give 2 prospects for Guzman

Lefty reliever Ryan, 23, starter Sequea, 17, obtained by Orioles

Rhodes-Yanks deal fizzles

Ryan `had meteoric rise through their system'

August 01, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

No longer envisioning a turnaround to their season, the Orioles last night traded pitcher Juan Guzman and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for left-handed reliever B. J. Ryan and 17-year-old starting pitcher Jacobo Sequea. The deal, completed about an hour before the midnight waiver deadline, failed to serve as a catalyst for a flurry of activity but represented a solid start to the Orioles' directional change.

"I thought this was at the minimum something we would do," Orioles general manager Frank Wren said. "I was hoping we would get a player like B. J. Ryan. To get a Jacobo Sequea is just icing on the cake."

Guzman, 32, leaves the Orioles as he arrived -- on the last day teams could trade before asking fresh waivers on their players.

Wren said that he felt "close on another move," which club sources indicated was a trade of reliever Arthur Rhodes to the New York Yankees for shortstop prospect D'Angelo Jiminez. Discussions were held during the past week, but talks eventually disintegrated yesterday. "There are still opportunities," Wren said of the deal.

Manager Ray Miller said scouting reports indicate Ryan throws a 91-93-mph fastball that rides in on right-handed hitters. "All our scouts say his fastball is a lot like [Jason] Johnson," Miller said. "Even when he gets people in fastball counts, they don't get it."

Miller would not project Ryan's arrival except to say "if not immediately, then in the short term."

For now, Ryan will report to Triple-A Rochester while the Orioles intend to install either Doug Johns or Scott Kamieniecki into Guzman's slot in the rotation and fill a relief role from within.

"Ryan's a guy that we've liked. He's had a meteoric rise through their system. We think he can really help us in our bullpen," Wren said.

Surprise entries in the NL wild-card chase, the Reds pursued Guzman (5-9, 4.18 ERA), a pending free agent who emerged as a six-inning pitcher since being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on July 31, 1998. They apparently added Sequea, the youngest player in professional baseball last season, in return for the Orioles paying part of the remainder of Guzman's $5.25 million contract.

"If we get our starter to go six or seven innings, we feel we have the best bullpen in the league and a chance to win every game," Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. "We're getting a starting pitcher who's given the Orioles six or seven innings nearly every time out, especially since the middle of June."

Ryan, 23, has zoomed through the Reds minor-league system since being drafted out of Southwest Louisiana State in the 17th round of the last year's amateur draft. Graduating from Rookie League to Double-A, he was 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA and 10 saves in 33 appearances. Ryan began this year at Double-A Chattanooga, progressed to Triple-A Indianapolis and was promoted to Cincinnati last week. In two minor-league stops this season Ryan put together a 3-1 record and six saves in 32 games. He made one appearance last week against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing a run in two innings, before being sent down to make room for Denny Neagle.

As for the Venezuelan Sequea, Wren hardly restrained his assessment, calling the 17-year-old "the equivalent value of a No. 1 choice."

Sequea was rated by Baseball America as one of the Reds' top 10 prospects during its annual survey. At Single-A Rockford, Sequea was 4-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 16 starts, including two complete games.

The Orioles will assign him to either of their Single-A affiliates at Delmarva or Frederick.

Given that Rhodes is a pending free agent, Ryan's addition would appear to be for that role.

"You don't find that out until [Ryan] gets to the big leagues and faces that kind of pressure," Wren said. "He's an intimidating guy -- 230 pounds with a real good arm and real deceptive."

Wren said.

The Orioles have held negotiations with Rhodes on a contract extension but Rhodes is seeking a four-year, $16 million deal -- virtually the same as given closer Mike Timlin last winter -- and the Orioles are unwilling to do that.

Wren spoke with Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz in the last week regarding a possible deal involving first baseman Will Clark. However, the Orioles were interested in obtaining pitching help -- i.e., reliever Kevin McGlinchey or rookie left-handed starter Bruce Chen -- while the Braves are confronting a pitching shortage of their own.

For Guzman, Wren tried to pry right-handed reliever Tim Crabtree from Texas but was rebuffed. Cleveland soured on Guzman because of his inconsistency and then discovered that Scott Erickson was no longer on the market.

The deal for Ryan and Sequea was struck in principle with Bowden at about the same time the Orioles were losing, 5-2, to Seattle, their fourth loss in five games since Wren held out hope for a playoff push. Bowden was then advised by the Reds' penny-wise management that the Orioles must assume half of Guzman's remaining salary, about $900,000. Majority owner Peter Angelos agreed after Wren negotiated Sequea's inclusion in the deal.

Pub Date: 8/01/99

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