Nevin rejects trade to Orioles

Ponson-to-Padres deal off

first baseman staying home, won't waive no-trade clause

July 26, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

After mulling over the decision for about two days, San Diego Padres first baseman Phil Nevin decided that he'd rather stay at home than become an Oriole.

Nevin last night declined to waive the no-trade clause in his contract that prohibits the Padres from sending him to the Orioles and seven other teams without his consent. As a result, the proposed deal that would have exchanged Nevin for right-handed pitcher Sidney Ponson was scuttled, and another Orioles trade that once appeared to be a formality went bust.

Nevin had until tonight at 9 Eastern time to make a decision, a 72-hour window after the Padres and Orioles informed the commissioner's office of the trade Saturday night. However, he needed less than 48 hours to decide to stay in San Diego, where he is building a home and lives with his wife and three children.

"I've said from the first moment that I am surprised that this has gone that far without Phil rejecting the trade," said Barry Axelrod, just before informing the Padres of his client's intentions. "It has nothing to do with Baltimore or the Orioles. It has everything to do with what had been the ideal situation with Phil living in San Diego, playing in front of his family and friends."

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie declined to meet with reporters last night, sending word through Bill Stetka, the director of media relations, that the Orioles "don't comment on trades until they are consummated." Attempts to reach Orioles owner Peter Angelos were unsuccessful.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli was informed of Nevin's decision shortly after the Orioles' 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers last night.

"We have to do what we have to do," Mazzilli said. "I just heard of it. Right now, we have other things we need to concern ourselves with."

Ponson watched the game last night from the bullpen. He usually doesn't speak to the media, but he told an ESPN reporter before last night's game that he is not concerned about all the trade talk.

"As soon as they come in and tell me, I'm gone," said Ponson, who is 7-9 with a 5.91 ERA. "It's a different team. I'll just go over there and play ball."

According to an industry source, the Rangers have interest in Ponson, whom they planned on signing before the 2004 season if the Alex Rodriguez trade to the Boston Red Sox had gone through.

The source said that before the Nevin deal, the Orioles had talked to the Rangers about swapping Ponson for outfielder Richard Hidalgo or a prospect. However, the Orioles, according to the source, would need to absorb some of Ponson's contract. The right-hander stands to make $10 million next year, the final year of his three-year, $22.5 million deal.

The Orioles had planned on inserting Nevin, who is hitting .263 with nine home runs, into the middle of their slumping lineup, using him at designated hitter or first base to give Rafael Palmeiro more rest.

"I am open to whatever they want to do," Palmeiro said before Nevin reached his decision. "... If that's what it takes for him to come over, then I'll DH full time. I don't care, but I don't want to lose Sidney either, though. He is a good teammate and I think he can help us."

In a phone conversation with Nevin on Sunday, Mazzilli told Nevin of the Orioles' plans for him should he accept a deal. Nevin also spoke with Orioles utility man Chris Gomez, his former teammate in Houston and Detroit.

On Sunday, the Orioles invited Nevin to go straight from Philadelphia, where the Padres wrapped up a three-game series, to Baltimore to meet some members of the team and take a tour of Camden Yards. But Nevin thought it would be more beneficial to go home with the Padres and begin discussions with his family.

Axelrod said Nevin spent most of yesterday and the previous night discussing the decision with his wife, Kristin, and their children. Nevin has been essentially told by Padres manager Bruce Bochy that he'll no longer play every day, as the club plans on using Xavier Nady at first.

Nevin also vetoed a trade to the Cincinnati Reds for Ken Griffey before the 2003 season, but has said that this decision was more difficult.

"It's been a terrible two days for him," Axelrod said. "I talked to him a lot [Sunday] night when he got home, and he was an emotional wreck."

Asked if Nevin, a gritty veteran known for his intensity and occasional on-field outbursts, will be able to handle a part-time role, Axelrod said earlier yesterday afternoon, "I don't think he would be too happy."

In a statement, Padres CEO Sandy Alderson said there are no immediate plans to trade Nevin. Meanwhile, the Orioles were left spinning their wheels. They were the front-runners for Florida Marlins right-hander A.J. Burnett, but negotiations broke down when the Orioles refused to accept third baseman Mike Lowell and the approximate $21 million left on his contract.

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