The Orioles' apparent abundance of outfielders has drawn interest from the New York Yankees, who have attempted to initiate trade discussions involving All-Star left fielder B.J. Surhoff and center fielder Brady Anderson in recent days, according to club and industry sources.
If there is reciprocal interest, Anderson indicated for the first time yesterday that he may be willing to waive his blanket no-trade privilege, though his preference remains to finish his career with the Orioles.
The two-time defending world champions are increasingly concerned about a lack of production at the top of their lineup, particularly with left fielder and leadoff hitter Ricky Ledee, who went into last night with a .218 average. The Yankees were 12th in the league in hitting, 11th in on-base percentage and 13th in runs scored going into last night.
Anderson, 36, on the third season of a five-year, $31 million contract, said last July that he would refuse to accept a trade. However, he left open the possibility when approached yesterday.
"It's something I would consider," he said before his sixth multi-hit game in his last seven starts. "But my preference has always been to play in Baltimore for the rest of my career. That was my thinking when I signed [in December 1997] and it's still my thinking."
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman met Monday in Tampa, Fla. Reports have said Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez, Henry Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa are also on a list of players the Yankees might consider acquiring."I can't comment on players that are on other teams," Yankees manager Joe Torre said yesterday.
The Los Angeles Dodgers also have some interest in Anderson but have yet to make a concentrated push.
The Orioles have interest in Yankees infield prospect Alfonso Soriano, 22, who already has signed a four-year contract extending through 2002 although he has received only eight major-league at-bats.
Soriano is projected as a shortstop but is blocked by Derek Jeter and faces internal competition from D'Angelo Jimenez, who will miss this season due to injuries suffered in an auto accident last winter.
Aside from receiving no-trade protection in his contract, Anderson enjoys 10-and-5 status (10 years in the league, five with the same team), allowing him veto power over any deal."I want to be here for the good and the bad," said Anderson. "I'm willing to grind through the bad times to be here for the good, which I think won't take very long. This is a special place. I've always felt that way."
Anderson downplayed suggestions that he may soon be moved from center field to either right field or designated hitter. Concerned about outfield defense, vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift has made inquiries throughout both leagues regarding a young center fielder.
Until second base prospect Jerry Hairston agreed to undergo shoulder surgery, consideration was given to promoting Hairston, transplanting Delino DeShields to center field and altering Anderson's role.
Surhoff, 35, is suffering his most extended slump as an Oriole but is still considered one of the league's most consistent hitters and top defensive left fielders.
After his name was introduced in talks with the New York Mets last December, Surhoff named the Mets as one of six teams to which he could be dealt as allowed by a partial no-trade clause. The Yankees were not included.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.