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Ponson a possible hangup as O's chase Burnett

Posted: July 22, 2005


The Orioles again are close to their long-discussed trade for Marlins righthander A.J. Burnett, but the deal could hinge on whether they move righthander Sidney Ponson to the Devil Rays, Sporting News has learned.


If Ponson is the hangup, the Burnett deal will not be completed; Ponson, according to an industry source, would exercise his right to veto a trade to the Devil Rays. His contract gives him the right to block trades to 10 teams, including the Rays.


However, the Orioles could acquire Burnett even if they failed to move Ponson, a second source says. In their trade with the Marlins, the Orioles would acquire Burnett, third baseman Mike Lowell and Class AAA center fielder Eric Reed for relievers Jorge Julio and Steve Kline, outfielder Admin Bigbie and Class AA righthander Hayden Penn.


One way the Orioles are trying to get Ponson to Tampa Bay is through the Marlins, who would want Rays reliever Trever Miller in return. The Orioles also have discussed sending Ponson directly to the Rays, but regardless of their methods, their efforts almost certainly will be in vain, given Ponson's veto power.


If the Rays paid a portion of Ponson's contract -- say, $2 million of the approximately $13 million remaining through next season -- the Orioles might find it easier to absorb their portion of Lowell's deal. A sticking point in the Burnett talks has been the amount the Marlins would contribute to the approximately $21 million remaining on Lowell's contract, which runs through 2007.


The Orioles also have been talking to the Rangers about a deal for Ponson, but those talks apparently have stalled.

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