Mariners complete deal — for Wilkerson
Mariners manager John McLaren countered the notion that the signing of free-agent outfielder Brad Wilkerson on Thursday meant that the Adam...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners manager John McLaren countered the notion that the signing of free-agent outfielder Brad Wilkerson on Thursday meant that the Adam Jones trade to Baltimore was finally on track for completion.
"We wanted this guy no matter what," McLaren said by phone from Arizona. "We've been talking about him for a long time. His versatility is huge. We can use him a lot of different ways."
However, Wilkerson's role on the 2008 Mariners figures to vary considerably based on the outcome of the Mariners' efforts to obtain Erik Bedard for a package headed by Jones.
The Baltimore Sun reported that a resolution on the stalled trade would come one way or another in the next 48 hours.
The latest theory on the delay, first reported by ESPN's Buster Olney, is over "a rules issue" related to prospective physical examinations by the players involved in the trade.
The trade would send Jones, left-handed pitcher George Sherrill and 19-year-old pitcher Chris Tillman to the Orioles for Bedard.
The Mariners would also send additional prospects to Baltimore, with pitchers Kam Mickolio and Tony Butler among the possibilities.
The ESPN story said the Orioles have asked the Mariners for written language stipulating that Baltimore will be obligated to finish the trade only if Jones and Sherrill pass their physicals.
Jones had been scheduled for a physical in Baltimore on Tuesday, but it was canceled after news of the pending trade became public.
Baltimore owner Peter Angelos reportedly was angered by the leak. There have been reports that the owner is now trying to lock up Bedard to a long-term deal. But in an e-mail to The Times and other news outlets, Bedard's agent, Mark Pieper, termed an MLB.com report that Angelos called Bedard last Sunday to discuss a five-year contract "wholly inaccurate."
Angelos is known to be a stickler about vetting the health of prospective Orioles. The industry has struggled over the years with the issue of physicals for players being traded, with occasional disputes flaring up when a player arrives with health issues.
One of the most prominent cases occurred in 2001, when the Blue Jays claimed pitcher Mike Sirotka was damaged goods when he arrived from the White Sox in exchange for David Wells. However, commissioner Bud Selig ruled in favor of the White Sox, citing "caveat emptor" — buyer beware.
"That always has been, and remains, the standard in baseball," said Milwaukee assistant general manager Gord Ash, who made the Sirotka trade as Toronto's GM. "In this particular case, our doctor signed off on Sirotka. Obviously, he was wrong."
One major-league general manager, requesting anonymity, was sympathetic to the Orioles' alleged request.
"They just want to protect themselves in case their physician looks at a particular player and sees something not exactly right," he said. "The language would at least protect them."
But another highly placed executive said that such language is not standard.
"I've never seen that before," he said. "Maybe that's the lawyer in Angelos coming out."
If Jones winds up going to Baltimore, the 30-year-old Wilkerson, who bats and throws left-handed, stands to be a regular outfielder for the Mariners. But if not, Jones is slated to start in right field. Wilkerson would likely be a "super-sub," filling in mostly in the outfield corners as well as at first base and designated hitter.
Wilkerson signed a one-year contract for $3 million, with a chance to make another $2 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances.
"I feel I'll be battling for an everyday job in spring training," he said. "I feel I have an opportunity to win that job. If it doesn't happen, I feel I'll still have a lot of at-bats in right field and all over the outfield, and get time at first base. I'll have a good opportunity to help the ballclub."
Wilkerson once seemed headed for stardom in the Montreal organization, which drafted him in the first round in 1998. His breakout year was 2004, when he hit 32 home runs and 39 doubles, scored 112 runs and had an .872 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Since then, injuries to his shoulder and hamstring have hampered Wilkerson. Last with Texas, he was on the disabled list for a month with a pulled right hamstring. He batted .234 with 20 homers and 62 runs batted in in 119 games.
"I feel I'm the healthiest I've been since the start of the '05 season," he said. "I'm very excited to have the opportunity to be the player I've been in the past."
Meanwhile, Sherrill finished his drive from Salt Lake City to Peoria, Ariz., on Thursday and said he hadn't heard any official word he was being traded.
He is bracing himself for the possible call to head to Baltimore. But for now, he's still a Mariner, and he plans to head to the team's training facility today.
"I'm hoping to throw a bullpen," Sherrill said, "and then we'll just wait and see what happens."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com
|Brad Wilkerson's career stats|
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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