KANSAS CITY, MO., JULY 17 -- Despite previous denials to the contrary, the Baltimore Orioles recently have discussed at least one trade that would involve star first baseman Eddie Murray, it was learned today.
In a deal that has been talked about more than once, the Orioles would send Murray to the Los Angeles Dodgers for first baseman Mike Marshall and at least two other players, sources said.
The Orioles have consistently denied they were considering a trade involving Murray, but today General Manager Hank Peters appeared to back off those denials.
"I don't have any comment," he said. "We don't discuss players like that."
But when it was mentioned that Peters had previously denied that trades were being discussed, he snapped, "You're trying to put words in my mouth. Don't misinterpret what I've told you."
Although a Dodgers scout continues to follow the Orioles, the chances of such a trade being completed are extremely slim. But that such a deal should even be discussed illustrates a change in the Orioles' thinking about Murray, who asked the team to trade him last summer and has never rescinded the request.
Today, Murray confirmed that he'd heard about the possibility of such a trade and hinted he would probably approve it. However, an even bigger problem would be the matter of Peters and the Dodgers' Fred Claire agreeing on compensation.
The Dodgers have been calling around looking for a deal for Marshall for a couple of weeks. The Orioles won't say it, but there's no chance they'd make the trade unless at least one starting pitcher was involved.
Sources near the Dodgers say that Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser are untouchable, but that Bob Welch could be had. But a Murray-for-Welch-and-Marshall trade would almost certainly be rejected by the Orioles.
Last year, Baltimore originally said Murray never provided a list of five teams to which he'd accept a deal. (He has 10 years' major league service with the Orioles and, therefore, can reject any trades.)
It was later learned Murray did give them a list of teams and that three of those teams were Atlanta, Texas and Boston.
The Orioles offered him around, asking for Dale Murphy from the Braves. Atlanta owner Ted Turner personally rejected that one, sources said.
The Orioles never got anywhere with any of the other teams and asked the Rangers for four players, including three regulars.
Murray is on a pace to hit 38 homers and total 102 RBI, which probably would make him the Orioles' most valuable player this year.
However, because club officials are finally beginning to acknowledge that their rebuilding process could be a long and slow one, he's also the Orioles' most marketable commodity.