The reports first surfaced on Sunday night, when Seattle's Adam Jones apparently told a reporter for Venezeuela's Diario Panorama that he'd been dealt to Baltimore as the main prize of a Bedard deal. The Seattle Times was the first to obtain those quotes and published them in a blog item.
"I've got to go to Baltimore tomorrow morning and handle things there," Jones reportedly said. "I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners' side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher."
MacPhail issued a denial to the Baltimore Sun on Sunday night, but new aspects materialized Monday. The most pervasive account was penned by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, who claimed that Baltimore owner Peter Angelos has been informed about the trade but has yet to make a decision one way or the other.
ESPN.com also reported that two of the three players involved in the trade (Jones and Seattle reliever George Sherrill) have told teammates that they have to take physical examinations. That part of the rumor was debunked later on by a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sherrill told the PI that neither he or Adam Jones were scheduled to head to Baltimore for a physical.
More news cropped up late on Monday, when the Baltimore Sun reported that the negotiations have reached a standstill. Citing an unnamed source, the Sun reported that Jones was supposed to be in town for a Tuesday physical but that those plans have been scuttled.
The Sun also spoke to Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi, who refuted the rumors just as MacPhail had earlier.
"The stuff that has been reported is very, very premature," Bavasi reportedly told the Sun. "We've been searching for pitching on multiple fronts."
MacPhail dealt with the same issue weeks ago in regards to a potential trade of second baseman Brian Roberts to the Cubs. The executive stood his ground that time and punched holes in that rumor, and he seemed poised to repeat the process on Monday. As of now, Bedard is still Baltimore property and doesn't appear to be headed anywhere.
"I'm not terribly surprised," said MacPhail of the clamor surrounding his staff ace. "We've had this on other players before and there certainly has been talk about Bedard. It's not surprising that there has been speculation."
Bedard, the subject of feverish negotiations all winter, has been seriously pursued by the Reds, Mariners, Mets and Dodgers. If he gets dealt, he'd join Miguel Tejada as the second big piece traded by the Orioles this winter. Even though the Orioles are denying the reports, there are several facts that could point to a trade being imminent.
Last week, Bavasi told reporters that he'd made his best offer and expected a deal to get done. The rest of the proposed package seems murky, but Baltimore is known to have interest in Jones, Sherrill and right-handed pitching prospect Chris Tillman, Seattle's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Any trade would require physical examinations for all the players involved and may not necessarily be finalized until after the results are known. Bedard missed September with an oblique injury but has thrown at least 180 innings and won 13 games in each of the last two seasons. Last year, he went 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA and led the team in strikeouts.
Jones, who hit .314 with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs for Triple-A Tacoma, was named Seattle's Minor League Player of the Year. That was the second time he's earned that designation in his brief career. Jones, a former first-round Draft pick, made his big league debut before his 21st birthday and has hit .230 in 139 Major League at-bats.
Baltimore would be left without an ace if it deals Bedard, but the Orioles have several younger arms -- such as Hayden Penn, Garrett Olson and Troy Patton -- capable of earning a back-end slot. The three starters with guaranteed jobs (Jeremy Guthrie, Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera) have a combined 55-60 career record.