The Baltimore Orioles' deal to acquire Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett is still being considered, though the sides did not hold significant talks on Wednesday.
The potential trade is stalled because of Orioles owner Peter Angelos's reluctance to take on third baseman Mike Lowell's salary.
"It's hard to say whether it will happen or not," said a baseball source close to one of the teams.
One industry source said Angelos is unwilling to take on Lowell's contract -- which pays him more than $21 million through 2007 -- because the Sammy Sosa acquisition, which cost the Orioles almost $9 million, has failed miserably. Though Sosa has hit well recently, the outfielder has only 10 home runs and a .233 average. Baltimore sees the same type of decline in Lowell, who prior to Wednesday's game had a .232 batting average and four home runs.
"Peter is not going to want to take Mike Lowell's contract," the source said. "It ain't going to happen. Maybe they can dump half."
Angelos did not return several phone calls.
It appears that the trade now must happen without Lowell, as the Orioles don't appear willing to do the deal unless the Marlins pick up near half of his salary. Florida is unlikely to make the deal under those circumstances.
According to baseball sources, the Marlins believe they would be better off putting Burnett back on the open market, though that decision does not appear to have been made.
"I'm not sure if he is back on the market," one Boston Red Sox official said. "My sense is that the Marlins are regrouping."
The deal as it had been discussed would have sent Larry Bigbie, Jorge Julio, Hayden Penn, Steve Kline and Steve Reed in exchange for Burnett, Lowell and minor league outfielder Eric Reed.
But sources said the teams are trying to creatively construct the deal without Lowell being included before deciding to stop negotiations.