Nevin's approval needed to finalize trade for Ponson

Sources: Orioles, Padres reach agreement to bring first baseman to Baltimore

July 24, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles have reached a tentative deal that would send much-maligned pitcher Sidney Ponson to the San Diego Padres for first baseman Phil Nevin, according to industry sources, though the trade won't go through until it gets Nevin's approval.

Reached at his home last night, Nevin's agent, Barry Axelrod, described the chances of Nevin accepting the deal as "less than 50-50." Nevin has a no-trade clause in his contract that requires his consent to be traded to eight teams, one of which is the Orioles.

The Orioles and Padres have asked the commissioner's office to allow the Orioles to talk to Nevin, according to Axelrod. Those talks will probably go on today with Nevin and his agent talking with Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie and manager Lee Mazzilli, Axelrod said.

"I haven't had a chance to talk in depth about it with Phil," Axelrod said. "We have to get some questions answered with the Orioles ... about what his role might be and what the circumstances would be there."

The Orioles had hoped to have the deal done before Ponson made his start last night against the Devil Rays, but as of last night, Nevin was still pondering the move. Axelrod acknowledged that Nevin met with Padres manager Bruce Bochy last night.

"If he did this, he would be going cross country and leaving home where he has three kids in school, is building a new home, is on a first-place team, batting cleanup," Axelrod said. "We want to find out what is it that would make him go across country to play in a different league."

While the trade apparently awaited Nevin's approval, the Orioles were prepared to go with today's starter, Erik Bedard, on the normal four days' rest because of Thursday's day off, to start last night against the Devil Rays.

According to a team source, the Orioles were planning on bringing up Triple-A Ottawa pitcher John Maine to make today's start in Bedard's place and designating seldom-used outfielder Eli Marrero for assignment.

However, Ponson got the start and pitched seven innings, giving up three runs and nine hits and taking the loss in the Orioles 3-2 defeat to fall to 7-9. He said little to reporters after the game.

"They are rumors," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of the trade talk before last night's game. "That's all they are. Unfortunately, it's a part of baseball, but a rumor is a rumor. Sidney is pitching tonight for the Baltimore Orioles. That's where we're at."

Nevin was in the Padres' lineup in Philadelphia and got a hit in San Diego's 2-0 loss to the Phillies. He said as of yesterday afternoon, San Diego general manager Kevin Towers had not asked him to waive the no-trade clause. "I haven't talked to anybody [about the trade]," Nevin told reporters. "Decisions will be made on what's best for us. I've got a home in California. I've earned the right to be in this spot."

Two offseasons ago, the Padres attempted to trade Nevin to the Cincinnati Reds for center fielder Ken Griffey, but Nevin quashed the deal, even though the trade would've added $2 million to his salary.

The Padres acquired third baseman Joe Randa from the Reds yesterday for two minor leaguers and demoted struggling third baseman Sean Burroughs. If the deal went through, they reportedly planned on moving Xavier Nady to first base, where they also have Ryan Klesko.

Nevin is hitting .263 with nine homers and 47 RBIs after returning early last week from a strained oblique muscle. He has played first base, third base and the outfield, but is primarily a first baseman. The Orioles have been seeking a first baseman who can spell Rafael Palmeiro on occasion and a right-handed bat to faceleft-handers.

Nevin, the first overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Houston Astros, is hitting .237 against left-handers this season, but is a career .306 hitter against them. He is making $9.5 million this season and is due to make the same amount next year. Nevin will reportedly regain full no-trade powers two months into the 2006 season when he reaches 10 years of major league service.

Ponson is due $11 million next year, but loses his no-trade privileges, which includes 10 teams, but not the Padres. If the trade goes through, it will end a tumultuous second stay with the Orioles for Ponson after the team signed him to a three-year, $22.5 million deal before the 2004 season.

Ponson, 28, began his major league career with the Orioles in 1998. After going 14-6 during the first four months of the 2003 season, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in a deadline deal. But he has gone just 18-24 since re-signing with the Orioles and has become a lighting rod for organizational criticism for his troubles on the mound and for his off-the-field behavior.

Ponson spent 11 days in jail this offseason in connection with a Christmas Day incident in his homeland of Aruba, after he allegedly punched a judge. He also was arrested in February and charged with driving under the influence in Fort Lauderdale.

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.