Orioles Acquire Wright From Yankees for Britton

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 13, 2006

To help stabilize a rotation that comprises mostly inexperienced starters, the Baltimore Orioles acquired veteran right-hander Jaret Wright from the New York Yankees yesterday in exchange for reliever Chris Britton.

The Orioles will receive $4 million from the Yankees to help pay the $7 million owed to Wright in 2007. Last season Wright was 11-7 with a 4.49 ERA in 30 games. That ERA would have ranked second among Orioles starters last year.

"Our philosophy is if you can get a starter for a reliever you're getting good value," Orioles Vice President Jim Duquette said. "Our feeling was that this was a good deal for us. . . . This is an illustration of us being aggressive early."

The impetus for the trade came from pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who guided Wright to a 15-8 record with a 3.28 ERA in 2004 with the Atlanta Braves.

"He's had really good success with Leo," Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo said. "His veteran presence is something we need."

Wright's successful season with Mazzone led the Yankees to sign him to a three-year, $21 million contract before the 2005 season.

"Leo had a lot to do with it by telling us about his makeup and what type of competitor he is," Duquette said.

Wright, 30, will slot in toward the back end of the rotation, Duquette said, joining Erik Bedard, Kris Benson and Daniel Cabrera. The last spot in the rotation has not been determined, though it's likely the team will choose from a group that includes Adam Loewen, Rodrigo Lopez and Hayden Penn.

"If he can pitch for the Yankees he can certainly pitch for us," Perlozzo said. "We need to do as much as we can to stockpile pitching. I'd like to think we're not done. We'd like to sign some more pitchers."

The Orioles have interest in free agent pitchers Mark Mulder and Gil Meche.

"This [trade] does not preclude us from pursuing another starter," Duquette said.

The Orioles, who typically do not pursue players with dubious medical histories, did not shy away from Wright, who has had numerous shoulder problems. The Yankees had a buyout for next season at $4 million that was negotiated into the contract mostly because of concerns about Wright's right shoulder.

"He looked healthy to me, that's for sure," Mazzone said. "I don't think that will be an issue."

Britton, a 23-year-old right-hander, was a pleasant surprise for the Orioles, compiling an 0-2 record with one save and a 3.35 ERA in 52 games as a rookie. Perlozzo said Britton needs to work on his conditioning and his consistency.

Orioles Note: The Orioles, according to a source, have discussed signing outfielder J.D. Drew, who recently opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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