Orioles hold onto veterans at Deadline
Huff, Mora, Baez likely to remain with club for rest of '09
BALTIMORE -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline came and went Friday at 4 p.m. ET without action for the Orioles, leaving them in possession of a few veterans who will be eligible for free agency after the season. Barring a waiver-related surprise, Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and Danys Baez will all likely finish the year with the club.
Baltimore managed to make a George Sherrill deal on Thursday, completing a trade that sent the closer to a postseason contender and brought back a high-ceiling prospect. Andy MacPhail, the team's president of baseball operations, said he listened to a few offers, but never really got close to doing anything Friday.
"This one was more active, certainly for us and I think for the industry as well," said MacPhail, speaking of Deadline Week. "And I think that's a biproduct of one simple number, and that's 17. The last I looked, a day or two ago, there were 17 teams within four games of the postseason. That's going to create a lot of activity."
MacPhail estimated that he spoke to four or five teams on Friday, and he said there was one example of a late-breaking development that hadn't been discussed before the Deadline. After trading Sherrill, though, MacPhail elected to keep Mark Hendrickson instead of pursuing another relief-oriented transaction.
"There was definite interest among other teams there," he said. "But with Sherrill being traded and having only lefty left, and with [Brad] Bergesen [and Rich Hill] going down, it was to the point ... where unless we got something that really made sense for us, we reached the conclusion that we were probably better off holding him."
There wasn't as much interest in Mora or Huff, either of whom would have required the Orioles to recast their starting lineup. Part of that may have been due to Mora's contract, which contains a no-trade clause and a team option for next season. Huff, for his part, was glad to have some apparent closure on his situation.
Baltimore's first baseman said that it was great for Sherrill to go to Los Angeles -- a team with legitimate title aspirations -- but said he'd prefer to have his shot at contention happen a different way.
"I've always said it would be so much sweeter to win a World Series ring with a team that you started with in Spring Training," said Huff, who has been on just one winning team. "Obviously, in the nine years of my career, I've lost and I'd take it, but at the same time, I think it will be a lot more satisfying to be with a team and take your lumps, develop something with that team. Certainly, I've had enough patience in my career. I can wait a little longer."
Of course, Huff was well aware that he's not out of the figurative woods. Players can still be traded in August, provided that they either clear waivers or are dealt to the team that claims them. In fact, MacPhail said that trend may even be more common this year since there are so many teams with a chance of making the playoffs.
MacPhail, who acquired highly touted third baseman Josh Bell as part of a two-player package for Sherrill, said that he wasn't sure how he may have been impacted by his team's on-field performance. While he admitted that Huff and Mora have had down seasons, MacPhail wasn't sure if their trade value had been adversely affected.
"You never know how that stuff's going to play out," he said. "You never know exactly where they were on the other team's preference list anyway. You can drive yourself nuts with all the woulda's, coulda's and shoulda's. ... It is what it is. You act on the information you have at the time. You make sure your organization's prepared and then you make the decisions that you think make the most sense. That's just kind of the easy formula."
For Baltimore, that formula has involved trading veteran players for future prospects. That strategy worked in dealing Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada elsewhere, and MacPhail said that the Orioles aren't done in that vein. That sentiment could be misconstrued in the clubhouse, but most of the players seem to understand.
"Is it disappointing to give up really good Major Leaguers and not see a thing up here?" asked second baseman Brian Roberts. "Yeah, that's frustrating, but we put a lot of trust and a lot of faith in the people making the decisions that these are the moves that are going to get us to the point where we can make those trades one day."
"We're rebuilding," added Baez, who inspired tepid interest on the trade front. "I went through that process in Cleveland, and now it looks Cleveland is rebuilding again. You never know. Three years ago I signed here to have a better team and to try to be a contender, and now we're facing rebuilding. We've still got a lot of veterans here under contract who are all going to be free agents and I'm pretty sure those are the guys they were trying to move. It's a business decision, and if that's the path of the organization, then that's the way they should go."
And in the end, nobody in the clubhouse was particularly surprised with the way things went down. Backup catcher Gregg Zaun, who was mentioned in a few scattered trade rumors with the Cubs, said that assorted Orioles expected Sherrill to get dealt and understood the team's line of logic.
"You've got a sought-after player. George is a great guy and was having a good season," he said of the team's former closer. "Honestly, with all the media attention he's been getting on the Internet, his name was mentioned with so many clubs that you figured something was going to go down. You know what? I think it's a class move by the organization to give him an opportunity with a team that's probably going to be in the postseason."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.