His role unclear, Julio signs one-year deal with Orioles

Having lost closer post, reliever could be traded

February 13, 2005|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Jorge Julio, the Orioles reliever rumored to be on the trading block for much of the winter, signed a one-year deal with the team yesterday.

The contract, expected to give Julio $2.5 million, allowed Julio and the Orioles to avoid arbitration, which would have taken place Wednesday. The Orioles filed at $2.375 million, while Julio had filed at $2.9 million.

As a closer, Julio, 25, had recorded 83 saves over the previous three years. Last season he had 22 saves in 26 opportunities while going 2-5 with a 4.57 ERA in 65 games.

But the closer role went to B.J. Ryan toward the end of the season, and the team signed veterans Steve Reed (Colorado) and Steve Kline (St. Louis).

With the addition of Reed and Kline and the probable elevation of Ryan in the bullpen, Julio is considered an attractive player for a trade.

The New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks had expressed interest, as did the Chicago Cubs, who instead took Jerry Hairston and minor leaguers Mike Fontenot and David Crouthers for Sammy Sosa.

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said nothing is set about the closer situation at this point.

"It's up in the air," he said. "We're confident about B.J. and we'd like for Jorge to be more consistent, but that's one of those things that we'll decide in spring training."

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