Orioles need to deal Ponson to free up cash

The Baltimore Orioles could have a new ace as soon as Friday night.

ESPN's Peter Gammons reports that talks between the Marlins and Orioles for pitcher A.J. Burnett heated up Friday afternoon.

According to a source, if the Orioles can move pitcher Sidney Ponson -- rumored to go through Texas, possibly to Tampa Bay -- Baltimore can use the money saved to make third baseman Mike Lowell's contract work.

Lowell, who is batting a disappointing .230 with just four homers and 39 RBI, is owed about $21 million through 2007.

The Marlins think a trade could happen soon, although it's not clear whether or not the Orioles will ask for a window to try to sign Burnett.

The 28-year-old Burnett, who can become a free agent after the season, is 6-6 with a 3.68 ERA.