However, the deal is not official until all of the primary players involved take and pass physicals. Jones and relief pitcher George Sherrill, two of the centerpieces of the Mariners' package, were in Baltimore yesterday to take their physicals, according to sources. The Orioles are known for requiring extensive physicals, and it's common for team officials to not get the complete results until a day after the examinations. Bedard, a 28-year-old left-handed ace, is expected in Seattle this week, perhaps as early as today, to take his physical. As of yesterday afternoon, Bedard had not been notified that he needed to be in Seattle. Mark Pieper, the pitcher's agent, did not return a phone call last night seeking comment.
If both teams are content with the results of the physicals, a deal should be announced in the next 48 hours.
"When and if we have anything to announce, we'll get it to you as quickly as we can," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said.
MacPhail declined to comment further and wouldn't confirm or deny that Jones and Sherrill were in town yesterday for physicals.
It is believed that in dealing their first legitimate ace since Mike Mussina, the Orioles will also get pitching prospects Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio. It's not likely the three prospects would need to take physicals for the deal to be complete.
Tillman, a 19-year-old right-hander who was the Mariners' second-round pick in the 2006 draft, is considered the gem of the group. He is projected by several scouts to be a future No. 2 or No. 3 starter. He was ranked recently by Baseball America as the Mariners' third-best prospect.
But Jones, who would likely be the Orioles' Opening Day center fielder if the deal were completed, is clearly the player who is coveted most.
The trade had been at a standstill since Jan. 27, when Jones told a reporter in Venezuela that he was headed to Baltimore to take a physical as the "centerpiece" of the trade for Bedard, who went 13-5 this past season with a 3.16 ERA and set a single-season franchise record with 221 strikeouts. The Orioles, specifically team owner Peter Angelos, were angered by Jones' comments, insisting that several issues still had to be worked out before the deal was done. Jones' physical, scheduled for last Tuesday, was also canceled as the two teams attempted to resolve the issues.
Both teams' officials were mum on what caused the holdup but were privately confident a deal could be reached.
Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 13 for spring training.