Cubs make separate deals with Orioles, A's

Updated: February 2, 2009, 4:04 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Cubs traded one-time playoff starter Rich Hill to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named Monday. They also made a deal with Oakland, sending reliever Michael Wuertz to the Athletics for a pair of minor leaguers.

The lefty Hill was 1-0 with a 4.12 ERA in five starts with the Cubs last season. He was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on May 3 and struggled after his demotion. He went a combined 4-7 with a 5.85 ERA in 13 appearances at Iowa, Class A Daytona and rookie level Mesa.

He pitched winter ball and general manager Jim Hendry said since it appeared Hill would not make the Cubs' rotation this spring and because he was out of options, it would be the fairest thing to trade him now.

Hill will be reunited with Orioles' pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Alan Dunn, both of whom worked with Hill while they were in the Cubs' minor league system.

"It's hard to put a finger on. He had such ups and downs with some really strong success mixed in with some failures and command issues," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said of Hill's slip.

"It happens a lot to people and it happens pretty much in every organization," Hendry added. "Hopefully in his case, because he is such a good kid, he gets it back on track."

But with Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin and newly acquired Aaron Heilman all candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Hill's chances to pitching for the Cubs were slim.

"I wanted Rich to find a place that might give him some comfort and where he might make the club right away out of camp," Hendry said.

It's the second trade of the offseason between the Orioles and Cubs and between Hendry and his former boss Andy MacPhail, who is now running Baltimore's baseball operations. Earlier Chicago dealt outfielder Felix Pie to the Orioles.

The player to be named later will be based on how well Hill performs for the Orioles.

Hill, 28, is 18-17 with a 4.37 ERA in 64 appearances during four seasons with the Cubs, including 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA in a career-high 32 starts during 2007. He started Game 3 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks that year when Chicago was swept out of the postseason.

Baltimore designated left-hander Brian Burres for assignment to clear a roster spot. The Orioles have 10 days to release Burres, trade him or send him outright to the minors.

In the Oakland deal, the Cubs received outfielder Rich Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers.

Robnett, a first-round pick of the Athletics in 2004, has played five seasons in Oakland's minor league system, reaching Triple-A. He played in only 82 games last season after having a tumor removed from his stomach. He his a .256 hitter in the minors.

Sellers has played four minor leagues seasons in the Athletics' system, alternating between shortstop and second base.

Wuertz was 13-7 with one save and a 3.57 ERA in 265 relief appearances in all or part of five seasons with the Cubs. He was 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 45 relief appearances last season for Chicago and also pitched at Triple-A Iowa.

Wuertz would have had a tough time making the Cubs' bullpen in spring training after they added Kevin Gregg in the offseason. And if Marshall wins the fifth spot, Heilman, Samardzija and Gaudin could all end up back in a relief role.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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