Bedard likely won't be dealt by opener

Orioles notebook

December 22, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

After listening to trade proposals for his ace for the past couple of months, Andy MacPhail says it is a "strong likelihood" that Erik Bedard will be the Orioles' Opening Day starter rather than being traded.

"It's up to [manager] Dave Trembley in the final analysis to set his rotation, but that's what [Bedard] is today, and I think that's a strong likelihood," said MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations. "But that said, you never know."

Bedard, a 28-year-old left-hander, is the Orioles' biggest trade chip, and moving him for three to four young and major league-ready players would be one of the quickest ways to accelerate the team's rebuilding process.

However, MacPhail's comments, along with recent efforts to resuscitate contract extension talks for Bedard, are strong indications that the Orioles remain unsatisfied with the offers that they are getting for the pitcher, who went 13-5 last season with a 3.16 ERA and set a franchise record with 221 strikeouts.

MacPhail has said repeatedly this offseason when asked about Bedard that he is obligated to listen to offers for the pitcher but under no pressure to trade him because he's still two years away from free agency. The Orioles have made it known to interested suitors - and there have been plenty - that they expect three or four prized young players in return. At this point, no team has come close to matching their asking price.

The Cincinnati Reds won't include top outfield prospect Jay Bruce in a deal for Bedard. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who some club officials believed were the best fit for a Bedard deal, instead signed Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda and were reluctant to deal outfielder Matt Kemp and pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw, anyway.

The Seattle Mariners remain interested in Bedard, even after signing free-agent right-hander Carlos Silva. However, Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that pitcher Brandon Morrow, whom the Orioles covet along with outfielder Adam Jones, is "highly, highly unlikely" to be traded.

While not speaking about any specific offers, Trembley said: "My feelings about Erik Bedard have been that he's a legitimate No. 1 starter. I've felt all along that if he was going to be moved, it was going to have to come with a very big return."

MacPhail said he is not close to completing any deals.

"The likelihood of doing something prior to 2008 is very, very low in my estimation at present," he said.

Mora aims to stay at third

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora is still planning to play a couple of different positions when he goes home to Venezuela for winter ball. But when he reports to spring training with the Orioles, he said, he will be at third base and nowhere else.

"I'm a third baseman. I won't play no left field [for the Orioles]. They traded [Miguel] Tejada for a left fielder," said Mora, referring to former Houston Astro Luke Scott. "Check my numbers. You can see where I play."

Mora also said he has not been contacted by the Orioles to drop his blanket no-trade clause.

"If you get kicked out of your house, what are you going to do?" Mora said. "You have to go. But I'm an Oriole, and I want to be an Oriole."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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