ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Orioles could get stung twice today. Their efforts to trade for Oakland Athletics pitcher Tim Hudson could fall short, and he could wind up landing right in their division, with the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.
According to industry sources, the Yankees and Red Sox were each trying to pull off a three-team deal to land Hudson, involving Oakland and another team that could provide the prospects the A's were seeking in return.
One source close to the negotiations said A's general manager Billy Beane hoped to have a deal for Hudson or left-hander Barry Zito completed today. Even though both pitchers have been cornerstones for Oakland in recent seasons, Beane is trying to lower his 2005 payroll after acquiring catcher Jason Kendall.
The Orioles have been reluctant to part with their top young pitchers for Hudson because he will be a free agent after next season. Zito's contract includes a $7 million team option for 2006, so the Orioles actually made offers for both pitchers Friday, baseball sources said.
But the talks reached an impasse late Friday night, because Oakland kept insisting on a package of three top young pitchers: Erik Bedard, John Maine and Hayden Penn.
As a rookie, the left-handed Bedard went 6-10 with a 4.59 ERA last season. Penn was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and Maine won that same award in 2003. The Orioles tried to get Beane to consider lower tier prospects, such as David Crouthers.
Never one to sit around and wait, Beane continued talks with other teams, including the Red Sox and Yankees. Neither team has the pitching prospects Oakland wants, so they were talking to other undisclosed teams about three-way deals.
Baseball sources said if Beane decides to do a standard two-team deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the leading candidates, followed by the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Orioles.
Beane has made it risky for the Orioles and other teams to acquire Hudson, refusing to grant them a 72-hour window to sign the pitcher to a contract extension. The Orioles didn't want to give up their young pitchers just to have Hudson for one year.
While some in the Orioles' camp continued pushing for the deal, the team didn't pull the trigger.
Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan said the team did have players it considered untouchable in any trade, but he declined to name them.
"Part of our philosophy is we don't want to just build this to win for one year," Flanagan said. "We want to do it year after year."