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"Report: trade talk intensifies" ...but not done


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MARLINS

Report: trade talk intensifies

BY CLARK SPENCER

cspencer@herald.com

 

Just when it appeared as if the Marlins and Baltimore Orioles had reached an impasse in trade talks involving Mike Lowell and A.J. Burnett, there were new reports Friday that discussions were heating up again and a deal could be close.

 

But multiple industry sources discounted the latest rumblings, and as the Marlins opened a three-game series with the Giants, both Lowell and Burnett were in uniform and on the Florida payroll.

 

ESPN reported Friday that the Orioles could be working on a deal that would send pitcher Sidney Ponson to the Devil Rays, thereby clearing money to acquire Burnett and Lowell.

 

But all other indications were that no deal was imminent because Ponson has no-trade power, which he would likely use to block a trade to the Devil Rays, and the Orioles have no assurances that Burnett -- who can become a free agent after the season -- would agree to a contract extension if he was obtained in a trade with the Marlins.

 

Ponson's agent, Barry Praver, said neither he nor the player had been approached by the Orioles about waiving his no-trade clause in order to complete a deal.

 

The Marlins have been demanding that any deal for Burnett also include Lowell, the latter demand proving to be a major stumbling block.

 

The Orioles are adamantly opposed to swallowing the $21 million left on Lowell's contract and have asked the Marlins to either take Ponson in the deal or absorb up to half of the remaining amount owed to the under-performing third baseman.

 

There's a chance the Orioles could also try to move Ponson to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Richard Hidalgo, another scenario that could pave the way for Baltimore to get a deal done for Burnett and Lowell.

 

If a trade gets done with Baltimore, the Marlins would likely receive a package of players that would include reliever Jorge Julio, minor-league pitcher Hayden Penn, outfielder Admin Bigbie, and, possibly, reliever Steve Kline.

 

The Marlins are continuing to talk to the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays have also indicated interest in Burnett but not in Lowell. The Marlins are trying to move Burnett and Lowell before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

 

Burnett can become a free agent after the season and it's almost certain he won't be returning to the Marlins next year.

 

But he said as long as he's with the team, he wants to win.

 

''This is my team right now,'' Burnett said. ``If I don't get traded, then let's win it all.''

 

With trade winds blowing, the Marlins expected to receive immediate pitching reinforcements today when Josh Beckett is taken off the disabled list and starts against the Giants.

 

''It's huge,'' Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca said of Beckett's return.

 

It's critical for the Marlins that Beckett remain healthy and pitch well.

 

Beckett has already made two trips to the disabled list this season and nine in his career.

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