The Baltimore Orioles were active in trade talks on Friday, some involving the long-discussed deal for Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett, but others over possible deals that would rid the team of disgruntled and struggling starter Sidney Ponson, whose days with the club may be nearing an end, according to one baseball source.
Baltimore fielded several calls about Ponson on Friday and had at least two promising leads, one American League source said. In one scenario, which was discussed at length on Friday, Ponson would head to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for a mid-level player. Baltimore also would pick up a yet-to-be-determined amount of the approximately $15 million Ponson is owed through next year.
If that deal falls through, the Orioles could re-start discussions with the San Diego Padres, who on Friday offered first baseman Phil Nevin, according to the source. Nevin will make $9 million this year and $10 million next season. That would be an even swap of high-salaried players.
Another source said Ponson could be traded to the Rangers for Richard Hidalgo.
All scenarios directly affect any trade with the Marlins for Burnett and Mike Lowell. Trading Ponson to the Devil Rays would save Baltimore money on the pitcher's contract and make them better able to afford more of Lowell's salary. Baltimore owner Peter Angelos's reluctance to pay Lowell's entire contract -- worth almost $21 million -- has stymied the deal with the Marlins.
If the Orioles trade Ponson for Nevin -- who is hitting .265 with nine home runs -- they no longer will be willing to take on Lowell.