LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Melvin Mora dearly wants to remain an Oriole, but at this point of his career, he also desperately wants to be on a winning team.
That's why the longest-tenured Oriole acknowledged yesterday that he would consider dropping his blanket no-trade clause if the team enters a rebuilding stage that would likely result in more losing in the short term.
"I want to see what they say, and when [president of baseball operations] Andy MacPhail calls me and calls my agent, we'll go from there," said Mora, an Oriole since 2000. "I can't tell you right now what I'm going to do. But I want to be on a winning team. I don't want to be like, 'Let's make the fans wait six more years and then we're going to try to start winning again.' You don't want to deal with that.
"I'm an Oriole. I want to win with the Orioles, but I have to see what moves they make. We need to bring in some good players - young players, veteran players. It doesn't matter. You can win with young players. But I have no idea what they are going to do."
While steering clear from stating this offseason that his team is in a rebuilding mode, MacPhail has said repeatedly that the Orioles will not pursue the major free agents, such as third baseman Alex Rodriguez and center fielders Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter. His intent is to make the roster younger and cheaper through trades and to spend more money and resources on scouting and player development.
The Orioles are expected to be major sellers this offseason with veterans such as shortstop Miguel Tejada, who has attracted some interest from the New York Yankees, available. Mora, a 35-year-old who remains a productive two-way player despite declining offensive numbers in each of the past three seasons, would be another potential trade chip in a market where several teams need a third baseman.
However, Mora stands in the way of any trade that the Orioles would design to add prospects to an organization in dire need of them. He insisted on the no-trade provision when he signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Orioles in May 2006.
"I'm already prepared for it," said Mora, who said he wants to play only on the East Coast. "The good thing about this is I can choose if I go or if I don't go. When I signed the contract, I left a lot of money on the table so I can make that decision."
According to one team source, the Orioles have not approached Mora or his agent, Lon Babby, this offseason to ask whether he would waive his no-trade clause. "Melvin has that right, and we'll see what unfolds," MacPhail said. "We have to do what is in the best interest of our club."
If he does return, Mora made it known that things need to change. The veteran said the Orioles' clubhouse was divided last season.
"The problem is you have people that have been in the big leagues for five, six years, and they think they own the Orioles," he said. "They need to fix that problem. I treat everybody the same, and it's something that I can fix if they let me fix it."
Mora maintained that he was "cool" with Dave Trembley but said he felt disrespected when the manager sat him several times in September to get a look at recently acquired Scott Moore at third base.
"I don't want to make it seem it was Moore's fault. This kid was hungry to play," Mora said. "But I've been busting my butt for seven years in the organization. I'm a two-time All-Star, I've won a Silver Slugger [award]. I don't deserve that. If I have to take that crap, I'd rather go somewhere else."
He was also disappointed in the manager's public criticism of enigmatic starter Daniel Cabrera. Trembley called Cabrera "unprofessional" after the pitcher threw behind the head of Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, nearly inciting a brawl.
"What Cabrera did was wrong, and I told him that. I told him, 'You could have killed that guy.' But what [Trembley] said to the media wasn't right either," Mora said. "This is the one guy that I want to have on my team. We have five starting pitchers, and Daniel is the only guy to stay healthy and throw 200 innings. But nobody says anything about that."
Trembley denied a rift with Mora, saying, "He's done everything that I asked of him."
Mora made it known that he would be against a move to left field unless he felt it made the team significantly better. If Tejada isn't traded, the Orioles would consider moving him to third base and Mora to left field.
"I don't want to play those games," he said. "I'm one of the best third basemen in the American League and in baseball. If you are going to move me, you have to make the team more competitive."
Ultimately, that's all Mora wants, he said. And although he hopes it is with the Orioles, he won't rule out leaving if the team doesn't expect to be competitive.
"I don't want to leave Baltimore. I'd die for the Orioles," he said. "But sometimes you also have to move on. I can't control that, but I can control where I go. I'm a Baltimore Oriole unless Andy MacPhail wants to change that."