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"Lowell money puts Burnett trade on hold"


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Lowell money puts Burnett trade on hold

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

 

By Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly

Sun Staff

Originally published July 19, 2005, 10:57 PM EDT

 

MINNEAPOLIS - The Orioles remain in talks with Florida 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 Marlins 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 Admin 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 refuted by a high-ranking Orioles official, who said the teams are "still in negotiations."

 

Lowell, 31, who entered Tuesday 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 that the Orioles asked them to pick up about half, or approximately $10 million, 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 backed out of a three-team deal Tuesday 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 picture 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 Tuesday night against Arizona. Meanwhile, Bigbie was out of the lineup for the second straight game, but Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli cautioned reporters not to read too much into it.

 

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

 

Asked about a potential trade before Tuesday night's game, Beattie told a small group of reporters 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 Tuesday 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. Dodgers right-hander Jeff Weaver could be one of those options.

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