The (Baltimore) Sun is reporting that the Orioles and Florida Marlins are close to completing a six player trade that would land highly-coveted pitcher A.J. Burnett in an Orioles uniform.
In Florida, the Miami Herald is reporting that "sources said it is almost certain Burnett won't be making his next scheduled start with the Marlins on Tuesday," which means the deal would come today or tomorrow.
According to The Sun, The Orioles would receive:
SP A.J. Burnett (5-6, 3.64 ERA, throws right)
3B Mike Lowell (.227 AVG, 4 HR, 36 RBI)
OF Eric Reed (in minors)
And the Marlins would get:
RP Jorge Julio (2-2, 4.14 ERA, throws right)
OF Larry Bigbie (.257 AVG, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
SP Hayden Penn (2-2, 6.75 ERA, throws right, now in minors)
Conventional wisdom says that the Orioles would likely move right-handed hitting Lowell to first base where he would platoon with left-handed hitting Rafael Palmeiro. Despite the poor overall numbers, Lowell is batting .313 with a .905 OPS against lefty pitchers, while Palmeiro is hitting .297 with a .908 OPS against righties.
The move would also likely mean a permanent spot in left field for B.J. Surhoff, unless Lowell or Sammy Sosa is moved to the outfield.
Conventional wisdom also suggests that Sidney Ponson would be sent to the bullpen, as he has lost four consecutive decisions and has not pitched well.
The Orioles have said that they would like to secure Burnett to a long-term contract (supposedly a four or five year deal worth nine to 10 million a year, according to teh Miami Herald) before finalizing a trade.
Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News says that the move would be extremely risky for the O's, and he goes as far as to say that Orioles co-general managers Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan "would be putting their jobs at risk" because they are trading Major League talent and adding salary at the same time.
He also mentions in his column that lefty reliever Steve Kline might be included in the deal.
Outfielder Juan Encarnacion had previously been assumed to be in the deal instead of Mike Lowell, but with Lowell's struggles this season and his high salary (he is signed for $18 million over the next two seasons, according to The Sun) they apparently decided to see if they could push him on someone else. The Orioles' willingness to take Lowell has supposedly made them the front-runner.