Syd Thrift, the Baltimore Orioles' director of player personnel, said today that the team is not trying to trade B.J. Surhoff and that the left fielder was never the subject of serious trade talks. In addition, whatever interest the New York Mets may have shown in Surhoff at one time has now cooled, according to baseball sources.
"There has been a lot written about nothing," said Thrift. "The [trade] talks aren't dead. They were never started."
However, Thrift spoke to the Mets as recently as Wednesday about Orioles starting pitcher Scott Erickson. Erickson's primary lure, other than winning at least 15 games each of the last three years, is a contract that will pay him around $6 million in each of the next four years, which is well below current market value.
Surhoff, 35, had a career year in 1999--hitting .308 with 28 homers and 107 RBI--and his market value has never been higher.
Thrift received dozens of inquiries about Surhoff's availability during last weekend's winter meetings, but Thrift said the Orioles' demands for compensation usually ended the discussions.
The Mets, however, showed the greatest interest, especially after their attempt to trade for outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. proved fruitless. The Mets are looking for a solid-hitting outfielder, but have turned their attention to the Anaheim Angels' Jim Edmonds.
At the same time, media reports about a potential trade involving the popular Surhoff have caused a fan backlash in Baltimore, according to Orioles sources.
Orioles Notes: The team signed backup catcher Greg Myers, 33, today to a two-year contract, believed to be in the neighborhood of $1 million. Myers hit .265 with five homers and 24 RBI in 84 games last season, which he split between San Diego and Atlanta.
Myers's left-handed bat appealed to the Orioles, as did his 12 years of major league experience.
"He's a veteran catcher, and he knows pitching," Thrift said. "You always prefer to have a veteran as a backup catcher."