Mets pitcher Benson could be trade target



Paul Konerko and B.J. Ryan are off the Orioles' wish list, but club officials are still examining options to improve the team as Monday's opening of the winter meetings in Dallas approaches.

One club source said the team is concentrating much of its efforts toward improving the starting rotation through trade or free agency.

Among possible trade targets is New York Mets right-hander Kris Benson, 31, who was 10-8 last year with a 4.13 ERA.

Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan confirmed that the club has spoken to the Mets about Benson, but said no deal for him or anyone else was imminent. One published report in New York said the Orioles would trade 26-year-old reliever Jorge Julio to the Mets for Benson by as soon as next week's meetings.

"It's a rumor, really," Flanagan said. "Obviously, we have talked to them, but we have talked to a lot of other teams, as well."

Besides the Orioles' cadre of young pitchers, Julio and center fielder Luis Matos are the current Orioles being asked about most in trade talks, according to one club source.

The team is somewhat reticent to trade Julio, however, because it would like to see what new pitching coach Leo Mazzone could do with the inconsistent but talented right-hander who has saved 83 games for the Orioles since 2002.

"You just can't find arms like that," vice president Jim Duquette said of Julio.

Duquette is also highly familiar with Benson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 amateur draft. When he was a Mets executive, Duquette engineered a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates that brought Benson to New York in 2004 and also negotiated Benson's three-year, $22.5 million contract that was signed last offseason.

Benson, who is 57-61 with a 4.25 ERA in his career, has two years and $15 million remaining on that deal.

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.