The Orioles apparently have jumped into the sweepstakes to acquire outfielder Rickey Henderson from the Oakland Athletics before tonight's trading deadline.
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond confirmed last night that the club has made a bid to obtain Henderson from Oakland, though it is not known what the Orioles would send to Oakland in return.
Henderson, who did not play in last night's game with the Texas Rangers because of sore legs, is fourth in the American League in hitting with a .327 batting average and in the top 10 in five other offensive categories.
His 17 homers would rank second among the Orioles and 47 RBI fifth if the deal were completed.
Oakland general manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday that there was no better than a "50-50" chance that Henderson would be traded before tonight.
Henderson, 34, who is making $3.25 million this season, plays a position where the Orioles are stockpiled, outfield. The club is having difficulty finding regular playing time for rookie Jeffrey Hammonds.
However, Henderson is also baseball's all-time steals leader with 1,071 and has led off more games with homers than any other player in history.
The Toronto Blue Jays had been considered the favorite to get Henderson before last night, but Alderson said that one of their American League East competitors had also climbed into the race. Hemond confirmed last night that the Orioles were the party and that he had spoken "several times" yesterday with Alderson. Any club could still get Henderson after tonight, but they would have to clear him through waivers, making the chances of a deal more improbable.
In addition, Henderson is believed to want a contract extension, which the A's are unwilling to grant. He also has a no-trade clause in his current contract, but it is possible he would accept a cash bonus instead.
Because he has been a free agent in the past five years, the team that obtained Henderson could retain him through next season by offering him arbitration or could choose to let him go via free agency.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL?
If the Orioles do, indeed, trade for Rickey Henderson, how would they deal with their overloaded outfield? Here are a few guesses:
Door No. 1: Send Jeffrey Hammonds back to Triple-A Rochester.
Door No. 2: Include one of their current outfielders in the trade for Henderson. It could be Brady Anderson or Mike Devereaux -- both become free agents after the 1994 season.
Door No. 3: Acquire Henderson from the A's and then trade either Anderson or Devereaux for another player, probably a starting pitcher.