Palmeiro won't be dealt against his wishes


Club's `verbal agreement' applies to Surhoff, too

July 31, 2004|By Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko | Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - One day after word leaked that Rafael Palmeiro's name had surfaced in trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Orioles officials said Palmeiro would not be moved against his wishes this season.

Palmeiro, 39, returned to the Orioles as a free agent last offseason on a one-year, $4.5 million contract with an option for 2005. At his news conference, Palmeiro said he'd like to finish his career in Baltimore and go into the Hall of Fame as an Oriole, assuming he's elected.

But Palmeiro's production has sagged this season, and barring a significant turnaround, the Orioles will likely exercise the $500,000 buyout in his contract, rather than pick up his $4.5 million option for next season.

On Thursday, they were trying to gauge the Dodgers' interest in Palmeiro, but that doesn't mean they were close to trading him.

"We have certain players on our club that we have kind of a verbal agreement with," said Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie. "We're not going to just move them. Even if they don't have no-trades [no-trade clauses] in their contracts, it's a situation where we respect what they've done in the game, and we're not going to do that."

According to club officials, another player the Orioles wouldn't trade against his wishes is B.J. Surhoff, who was in tears when they moved him to the Atlanta Braves at the 2000 trade deadline.

Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson has a complete no-trade clause this season, and next year he can pick 10 teams for which he could block a trade. In 2006, the final year of his contract, Ponson won't have any no-trade protection.

Palmeiro had a no-trade clause in his last contract with the Texas Rangers and rejected a deal to the Chicago Cubs last season. The Orioles did not give Palmeiro a no-trade clause, but it's clear he will have a say if they decide to move him.

Talks still quiet

Beattie said the chances of the Orioles making any moves before today's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline were "very slight."

The Orioles would have loved to solve their second base situation with a trade, but they couldn't find the right deal for Jerry Hairston or Brian Roberts. And while other teams asked about Rodrigo Lopez, Jorge Julio and Larry Bigbie, among others, the Orioles didn't like what those teams were offering in return.

Beattie disputed the theory that the Orioles have been asking for too much in return.

They were open to taking on prospects, instead of major league-ready players, "but we can't find the prospects we like," Beattie said. "We haven't any discussions with a general manager who told us, `You're out of your mind.'"

Gibbons sets his goal

Jay Gibbons rejoined the Orioles yesterday and took part in pre-game drills, and he hopes to be activated by next weekend.

Gibbons has spent the past 3 1/2 weeks rehabbing his injured left hip in Los Angeles. He has been hitting, running and throwing, and the Orioles wanted him to shag fly balls yesterday at Yankee Stadium.

"I feel pretty good. I'm cautiously optimistic," he said. "I just need to get my timing back, my [batting] eye, and run the bases."

Gibbons suffered a strained hip flexor, putting him on the disabled list for the second time this season. He also had been bothered by some lower back pain.

"This is as good as I've felt since mid-April," he said.

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