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Originally published Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Bedard trade talk is head-scratcher

A National League executive, asked late this week to assess the industry buzz on trade talks between the Mariners and Orioles, just laughed...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A National League executive, asked late this week to assess the industry buzz on trade talks between the Mariners and Orioles, just laughed.

"The buzz in the industry is we're all scratching our heads," he said. "Nobody knows. There are no secrets in baseball, but this has gone on too long."

Indeed, it's now been nearly a week since Seattle outfielder Adam Jones told reporters in Venezuela he was being traded to the Baltimore Orioles as part of a package for Orioles ace Erik Bedard.

Yet there is no official announcement that the deal has been completed — or called off. The teams continued Friday to work through the myriad issues that have stymied the trade and turned it into a soap opera.

The framework of the transaction apparently is in place: 28-year-old left-hander Bedard going to the Mariners for Jones, reliever George Sherrill, 19-year-old pitcher Chris Tillman, and one or two other Seattle pitching prospects, reputed to be Tony Butler and/or Kam Mickolio.

Beyond that, any number of impediments have been reported to be keeping the deal from getting done. They range from the ire of Orioles owner Peter Angelos over the trade being leaked by Jones before completion to supposed efforts by Angelos to sign Bedard to a long-term contract (denied by Bedard's agent).

There was also word this week from Andy MacPhail, the Orioles president, that the Orioles were talking to other teams about Bedard. The most recent speculation is that the holdup with the Mariners centers on the Orioles' desire to get written language concerning the ramifications of potential failed physicals.

Friday afternoon, however, there was no indication that any of the players in the trade had been told to report for a physical.

In the interim, the Mariners on Thursday signed free agent Brad Wilkerson, who is likely to replace Jones in the outfield if he is dealt.

The biggest wild card in determining whether the Mariners will ultimately get Bedard remains the unpredictable Angelos, who has been preoccupied all week with a personal matter but remains in the loop.

MacPhail told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that Angelos had not vetoed the deal.

The same NL executive had one final, apt commentary on the trade that wouldn't end: "God almighty, what a mess."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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