White Sox, O's talking about Roberts

White Sox, O's talking about Roberts

Reports of the Orioles looking to send two-time All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts to Chicago have been a staple of the Hot Stove season for years now. Nearly all of those rumors have involved Roberts ending up with the Cubs.

However, Roch Kubatko of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network reported on Friday night that the White Sox have made the latest attempt to nab Roberts, who went to the Midsummer Classic in 2005 and '07. Kubatko wrote that the teams have talked about a deal that would send right-hander Gavin Floyd to Baltimore. The issue, according to the report, is that the Orioles want more.

Baltimore is known to be looking to add experience to its pitching staff. The O's inked veteran Mark Hendrickson earlier in the week to help flesh out their rotation and are believed to be a finalist for Japanese free agent Kenshin Kawakami. Staff ace Jeremy Guthrie is the only sure thing in the rotation, and Floyd would help add some certainty to a volatile equation.

The White Sox, as they stand, are looking at a void at second base. They have Chris Getz, who has 10 Major League games under his belt; Brent Lillibridge, who made his first 80 Major League appearances last year with the Braves and was acquired in a trade; and Jayson Nix, who began 2008 at the Rockies' second baseman but started slowly and saw his opportunities evaporate.

Hot Stove

Chicago also has Cuban sensation Alexei Ramirez, who will be shifted to shortstop next season. Ramirez finished second in the American League's Rookie of the Year balloting behind Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria. His presence, along with prospects like Josh Fields, may allow the White Sox to consider adding Getz or Lillibridge to the other side of the equation. Roberts also would provide the proven leadoff hitter sought after by the South Siders.

Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations, has said on multiple occasions that he'd prefer to sign Roberts to a contract extension instead of trading him. The switch-hitter will be a free agent after the season, though, and if MacPhail doesn't feel that an agreement is possible, he'll likely shift his focus to dealing Roberts and getting as much as he can in return.

Floyd, who turns 26 on Jan. 27, is a native of Annapolis, Md., and drew a minor media clamor when the favorite son returned to Baltimore as part of the White Sox in April and then again in late August. The right-hander was targeted by White Sox general manager Ken Williams during a December 2006 trade with Philadelphia in exchange for Freddy Garcia. The faith shown in Floyd by Williams and the organization paid huge dividends in 2008, when the righty posted a 17-8 record and a 3.84 ERA.

The highest monthly ERAs of the season for Floyd came in August (4.39) and September (4.81), but he still allowed a mere 190 hits in 206 1/3 innings over 33 starts. Floyd fanned 145 and walked 70.

Any potential trade involving Floyd would have to be followed by the addition of a veteran hurler to the rotation, where the White Sox already are thin. As of now, Floyd, Mark Buehrle and John Danks enter the upcoming season as the rotation's seasoned presences, while Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Lance Broadway and Jeff Marquez are lined up to compete for the final two slots. Williams already has said the White Sox are bumping against their payroll limit currently, so it's not likely that addition would come through a pricey free-agency move.

With manager Ozzie Guillen having stated a couple of occasions during the offseason as to how he would take his chances on a team with solid pitching and defense, it's highly unlikely the White Sox would enter the 2009 campaign with three rotation openings. Williams pursued Roberts on a couple of occasions in 2008, but the return price was too steep at the time.

Thomas Harding, Spencer Fordin and Scott Merkin are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.