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SEATTLE -- A last-minute attempt by the Orioles to sign Erik Bedard to a multiyear contract appears to be the only thing standing in the way of a proposed trade that would send the left-hander to the Seattle Mariners for as many as five players, including 22-year-old outfielder Adam Jones.
Seattle also would send left-handed reliever George Sherrill, right-handed starter Chris Tillman and at least one more Minor League pitcher to the Orioles.
Sources close to the Orioles said Wednesday that club owner Peter Angelos wants to keep the ace pitcher and called Bedard last Sunday night to discuss a five-year contract. According to a source, Bedard told Angelos he might be interested and would talk to his agent, Mark Pieper.
Neither Pieper nor Bedard could be reached for comment on Wednesday. However, Pieper sent an e-mail Thursday to some news outlets disputing that such a discussion took place between Bedard and Angelos.
This wouldn't be the first time a multiyear contract has been discussed. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail recently asked Pieper what it would take to sign Bedard long-term and the agent suggested a seven-year, $100 million contract.
MacPhail balked and countered with three years. That suggestion never made it to first base, so he resumed efforts to trade one of the American League's top pitchers.
Apparently after agreeing in principle to the deal, the Orioles heard something about Jones having a potential health problem -- a degenerative hip (osteoarthritis) similar to the ailment that ended Albert Belle's career in 2000, just two years into the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Orioles.
The medical report on Jones was unsubstantiated and Mariners trainer Rick Griffin told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Tuesday that he couldn't talk about the situation because of HIPPA regulations. General manager Bill Bavasi said: "All I can tell you is that we brought Adam Jones home from Venezuela. Beyond that, we're not saying anything."
Jones, playing for the Lara Cardenales in the Venezuela Winter League, was notified by the Mariners last Saturday to leave Venezuela and fly to Baltimore for a physical. Jones told a newspaper reporter in Venezuela about the phone call and his apparent trade to Baltimore, which infuriated Orioles officials.
Jones supposedly returned to the U.S. on Tuesday, but has not been seen at the Mariners' Spring Training complex in Peoria, Ariz.
While the Mariners would not comment any further on the potential trade, MacPhail said on Wednesday that there has not been any progress or movement with Seattle.
Asked if the trade that sent left-hander Johan Santana from the Twins to the Mets for four Minor League prospects changed the landscape of the proposed Mariners-Orioles deal, MacPhail said, "No, it does not."