Orioles quiet as trade deadline passes

Orioles quiet as trade deadline passes

BOSTON -- The Orioles claimed that they'd be both buyers and sellers in the weeks leading up to the non-waiver trading deadline, but when the moment came, they turned out to be silent witnesses. Andy MacPhail, the team's president of baseball operations, said Baltimore didn't really come close on anything in the hours leading up to Tuesday's cutoff point.

"It's disappointing to the extent that you have spent a lot of time preparing for a day ... and at the end of the day there's no players to show for it," MacPhail said in a conference call shortly after the 4 p.m. ET deadline had passed. "But at the same time, we're pretty confident that we didn't do something stupid just to show that we were doing something."

Baltimore had hoped to get younger and better, trading some of its veteran players to acquire prospects and further complement its youthful nucleus. That strategy was stymied by the basic nature of the market, though, and MacPhail said that most teams were inquiring about the exact type of players the Orioles wanted to keep and build around.

Throughout the process, the Orioles entertained talk of moving veterans like Jay Payton, Kevin Millar and Steve Trachsel, and spurned the idea of moving starters like Erik Bedard, Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera. MacPhail wants to build around the pitching staff and said that it would've been way too expensive to make a play for a slugger like Mark Teixeira.

"That was certainly well over 90 percent of the conversations that we had -- about some of our core young starters," he said. "There is nothing that's more precious than young starting pitching. I feel like, in that respect, we are fortunate, because not only do you have a nucleus of young starting pitching now, we appear to have the one thing that is always going to be in demand."

The visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park was pretty rowdy in the pregame hours Tuesday night, with players teasing each other about potential trade destinations and pumping reporters for any information they could find. Millar, always one of the clubhouse ringleaders, was right in the middle of the action and shared the club's mind-set when the deadline passed.

"It's a relief, but it still doesn't mean a whole lot," Millar said, pointing out that trades can still be made throughout August. "People get caught up in this July 31 deal, but they can go on all the way through. Now, the difference is you have to go through waivers. If a team didn't get a deal done right at the deadline, it could still be in the works. But it's a relief, because you don't know the entire scoop. Right now, we've got our team intact. The lineup came out at 4:01 and we're ready to roll."

MacPhail's wiggle room was somewhat impaired by injuries to two of the team's most marketable players. Shortstop Miguel Tejada missed five weeks with a broken bone in his left wrist, which may have kept the Orioles from gauging interest. And closer Chris Ray, one of the team's available young arms, is currently on the disabled list with a sprained right elbow.

Neither player is likely to slide through waivers, but MacPhail indicated that the post-deadline period could be busy.

"I think that based on the limited activity that took place over the course of the deadline, you might have more than customary activity when it comes to the waiver period," he said. "You have to stay in that trading mind-set and that level or preparation. I think the next week or two, you may see some more activity as a consequence of the waiver process."

That could eventually mean a deal for Trachsel, who seemed non-plussed when approached on Tuesday.

"I haven't pitched well enough to even be considered to be traded," he said.

Baltimore doesn't have many players that are pending free agents -- Trachsel and center fielder Corey Patterson are rare exceptions -- so it didn't feel the need to deal anybody or risk losing them without compensation.

Bedard, MacPhail's top trading chip, would've been needed to make virtually any blockbuster move. The southpaw is still two seasons away from free agency, and MacPhail said the O's would tread lightly in making any decisions regarding his future.

"[Bedard], specifically, is somebody that we would have to be extraordinarily overwhelmed with to move," he said. "Young, quality starting pitching is at such a high premium today and is so important. It's something that nobody has enough of and it's hard to replace."

Millar, clowning around by the clubhouse entrance, said the deadline was anticlimactic as always. There are always rumors, and there are inevitably whispers about players that aren't even being discussed. That's why the teammates try to have as much fun with it as possible, because it's the time of the year that they have the least control over their future.

"It's always that way -- especially when you look at a guy like Paul Bako, who walked four times and got a single in his fifth at-bat [on Sunday]," joked Millar about Baltimore's backup catcher. "I'm surprised the Red Sox didn't go after him today, straight up, and obviously make him the captain. You start throwing out who's going to get traded for bats, balls and rosin bags. Miguel Tejada said Melvin Mora's going to the Devil Rays for a batboy. That was Tejada's trade request."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.