Lowell money puts Burnett trade on hold

Orioles notebook

Marlins balk at paying half to unload infielder on O's

Orioles notebook

July 20, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly | Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly,SUN STAFF

The Orioles remain in talks with the Florida Marlins on a potential trade for right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett, but the deal could be in jeopardy because of the Orioles' unwillingness to absorb most of the contract of third baseman Mike Lowell, according to industry sources.

One industry source even maintained that the six-player deal, which would send Orioles pitching prospect Hayden Penn, outfielder Larry Bigbie and reliever Jorge Julio to the Marlins for Burnett, Lowell and a minor league outfielder, may have reached a breaking point, but that was disputed by a high-ranking Orioles official, who said the teams are "still in negotiations."

Lowell, 31, who entered last night with a .232 average, four home runs and 37 RBIs, is owed $18 million for the next two seasons plus about $3 million for the rest of this one. The trade's fate, according to sources, depends on how much money the Marlins are willing to pick up. A source said the Orioles asked them to pick up about half, but Florida balked at the request.

The Marlins apparently would take struggling reliever Steve Kline, who has a two-year, $5.6 million deal, off the Orioles' hands, but that likely won't be enough to push the deal through.

According to a source, the two teams also are discussing an alternative deal, which would send Julio, Kline and Penn to the Marlins for Burnett and left-handed Triple-A reliever Matt Perisho.

After negotiating exclusively with the Orioles about Burnett the past few days, Florida is believed to be ready to listen to offers from other teams for the 28-year-old right-hander. The Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox reportedly are interested in Burnett.

According to industry sources, Pittsburgh yesterday backed out of a three-team deal that would have sent Burnett, and Pirates outfielder/first baseman Daryle Ward to the Orioles, Lowell, cash and a prospect to the Pirates and Bigbie, Julio and Penn to Florida.

A source did say that the Marlins had agreed to, in turn, trade Bigbie for Pirates pitcher Mark Redman, but that deal is contingent on the Orioles-Florida deal going through.

His arrival in the Orioles' rotation appearing imminent earlier this week, Burnett, who is 5-6 with a 3.64 ERA, made his scheduled start for the Marlins last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, Bigbie was out of the lineup for the second straight game, but Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli cautioned not to read too much into it.

"I am playing the same lineup I did yesterday when we won," Mazzilli said. "That's it. Don't read between the lines."

Asked about a potential trade before last night's game, Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said he had "absolutely nothing to say."

One source said that the Orioles are trying to negotiate a long-term deal with Burnett, who will be a free agent after the season. It is expected that Burnett may be looking for a deal similar to the four-year, $40 million one Carl Pavano got from the New York Yankees.

However, a Major League Baseball spokesman said yesterday afternoon that the Orioles had not contacted the league with a negotiating request.

If the deal falls through, the Orioles could look elsewhere for a cheaper alternative. Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jeff Weaver could be an option.

J. Lopez joins Bowie

Catcher Javy Lopez left Minnesota yesterday en route to joining Double-A Bowie for a four-game rehabilitation assignment. If his right hand feels strong enough, Lopez, who will catch two games and be the Baysox's designated hitter for the other two, could be back in the Orioles' lineup Monday when they return home to face the Texas Rangers.

"I am pretty excited, a little bit nervous," said Lopez, who hasn't played since May 24. "I don't know how I am going to perform now, but hopefully, it will be just the way it was before I left the game."

Around the horn

After pitching his first major league game in nearly two months, Erik Bedard reported no pain in his left knee. ... Major League Baseball still hasn't notified the Orioles whether Mazzilli's two-game suspension and Kline's four-game ban have been upheld. ... With six straight games on turf, Mazzilli said he is looking to give some of his veterans time off in the coming days.

Jeff Zrebiec reported from Minneapolis.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.