Sources told MLB.com on Wednesday night that Orioles owner Peter Angelos has decided to make a last-ditch effort to sign Bedard to an extension as trade talks with the Mariners continue. The sources said that Angelos called Bedard on Sunday and talked about the possibility of a five-year deal. The pitcher said he would discuss it with his agent.
MLB.com could not reach Bedard or his agent, Mark Pieper, for comment Wednesday. But on Thursday, Pieper released a statement vehemently denying that Bedard will enter into contract discussions with Baltimore.
"The report that appeared yesterday regarding Erik Bedard on MLB.com is wholely inaccurate and contains nothing factual," Pieper said. "Quite honestly, that type of journalism is irresponsible and reckless."
An inability to sign Bedard to an extension that worked for the player and the team is a major reason why the Orioles are shopping him.
Earlier on Wednesday, multiple sources told MLB.com that the Orioles and Mariners were close to finalizing a deal.
"We continue to talk," Orioles president Andy MacPhail told The Baltimore Sun, when asked about the proposed deal that would send Bedard to Seattle for a package that includes center fielder Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and pitching prospect Chris Tillman. "We've had some other clubs chime in as well."
However, a number of the teams once sniffing around a potential Bedard deal have dropped by the wayside. The Dodgers got their pitcher when they signed Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. The Mets didn't offer enough for the Orioles' liking, and their impending acquisition of Johan Santana from the Twins eliminates their need for Bedard. The Reds wouldn't give up their top outfield prospect, Jay Bruce.
Discussions between the Orioles and Mariners appeared to be progressing, to the point where Jones, in Venezuela for winter ball, was taken off the field and sent back to the United States for a physical. However, the Sun reported that the physical was postponed and has not been rescheduled.
"We're at the same place," MacPhail told The Sun. "Still talking. It's just conversations."
In an e-mail to The Seattle Times, Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said, "All I can confirm is that we took Adam off the field in Venezuela and brought him home. That's it."
Bedard also did not comment on the continuing negotiations. "I can't say anything right now," Bedard said Monday night to the Ottawa Citizen. Previous rumors had him headed to the Toronto Blue Jays. "Sorry, I just can't [say anything]."
Bedard went 13-5 last season with a 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts,
third in the AL. He is currently scheduled for an arbitration
hearing next month; he is asking for $8 million for 2009, and Baltimore countered at $6 million.
Jones, who will turn 23 this summer, hit .246 in 41 games last year. Tillman, who turns 20 in April, was Seattle's second-round pick in the 2006 draft. Baseball America ranks him as the organization's No. 3 prospect.
It was first reported by ESPN.com that a key component to any trade is the stamp of approval from Angelos. The owner, however, has been dealing with a personal matter and did not know about the specifics of the Mariners' proposal until Sunday.
However, MacPhail has been in contact with Angelos about potential deals and said they would remain in frequent contact, The Sun reported.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.