Mariners Ask Jones To Return To U.S. Amid Bedard Trade Reports

Mariners Ask Jones To Return To U.S. Amid Bedard Trade Reports

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners have asked talented young outfielder Adam Jones to leave his Venezuelan Winter League team and return to the U.S., amid reports he’s about to join a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Erik Bedard.

Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly confirmed Sunday night the team had requested the return of Jones, who has been expected to be Seattle’s starting right fielder when the season begins.

“We did ask Adam to come back from Venezuela,” Hevly said, declining to give a reason for the request.

That confirmation followed Sunday’s Seattle Times report that Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi was making Jones the centerpiece of a deal for Bedard. The Times, citing comments obtained from a Venezuelan newspaper, reported that Jones said he’d discussed the deal with Bavasi and was heading to Baltimore on Monday for a physical.

Last week, Bavasi said his team, a surprise contender last summer until a weak starting rotation finally collapsed in September, expects to have a newly acquired opening day starter on March 31 against Texas.

“We are at the point now where we have to try to make these moves to get that top-of-the-rotation guy, to slot the rest of the rotation,” Bavasi said Thursday. “We feel we have to make one more move.”

Baseball’s tampering rules prohibit open courting of players on other teams, and Bavasi wouldn’t name Bedard last week.

But baseball officials with knowledge of Seattle’s winter efforts have been confirming for weeks that the Mariners have been pursuing the Orioles’ left-hander. Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of baseball’s tampering rules.

The 28-year-old Bedard is prized because he’s good – 13-5 last season with a 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts, third in the AL, for a 93-loss team – and relatively young.

He’s also cheap. He is currently scheduled for an arbitration hearing next month, with Bedard asking for $8 million per season and Baltimore countering with $6 million.

Jones, who will turn 23 this summer, played in 41 games last year and hit .246, getting limited action in the outfield as Seattle played mostly its veterans into September as it tried to keep pace in the playoff chase.