PITTSBURGH -- Three-time All-Star catcher Jason Kendall was
close to being traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Oakland Athletics for a pair of pitchers, a baseball official told The
Associated Press on Wednesday.
The Pirates would get left-handed starter Mark Redman, who went 11-12 with a 4.71 ERA last season, and left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, who was 3-3 with nine saves and a 5.12 ERA, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Kendall, a 30-year-old California native, has a no-trade clause.
His agent informed Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield on
Wednesday that he would waive the clause to play for the A's, a
person close to Kendall said, also on the condition of anonymity.
Littlefield wouldn't confirm that a deal was nearly done,
saying, "There's a lot of speculation about a variety of things."
The Pirates have always sought physicals on newly acquired players,
which could delay the official announcement until Friday.
In addition to those talks, Pittsburgh made a deal Wednesday
with the soon-to-be Washington Nationals, acquiring minor league
outfielder Antonio Sucre for outfielder J.J. Davis, who was
designated for assignment last week.
A career .306 hitter over nine seasons with Pittsburgh, Kendall
has caught more games than any player in team history. The Pirates
thought they had finalized a deal in January to send Kendall to San
Diego for catcher Ramon Hernandez and third baseman Jeff Cirillo,
but the trade fell through when Padres owner John Moores wouldn't
Kendall is due to make $10 million in 2005, $11 million in 2006
and $13 million in 2007, the final three seasons of the $60 million
deal he signed just before the Pirates moved into PNC Park in 2001.
The sides were discussing how much of the deal Pittsburgh would
assume, the official said.
"I don't comment on trades," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said.
With more than one-fourth of their projected 2005 payroll
committed to Kendall, the Pirates have sought to trade him not only
to add pitching help but also to gain more financial flexibility.
The trade would cut their payroll by about $18 million through
2007, though that could be reduced slightly if the Pirates agree to
take on more of Kendall's contract.
Kendall has repeatedly said he wants to play his entire career
with one team, something he envied Pirates Hall of Famers Roberto
Clemente and Willie Stargell for doing. But the Pirates have
finished as high as second in their division only once with Kendall
in their lineup and he has obviously grown weary of the frequent
losing in recent seasons.
If the Pirates finalize the trade, they likely would try to make
a deal for a catcher, because they do not consider backup Humberto Cota an everyday player and prospect J.R. House has been frequently injured during his minor league career.
Redman, 30, and Rhodes, 35, are both coming off subpar seasons.
Rhodes would give the Pirates a valuable second left-handed
reliever to complement Mike Gonzalez, and Redman would stabilize a
rotation that lost former No. 1 starter Kris Benson to the Mets in a July trade.
Redman was 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA for Florida in 2003 and is 48-51
in his career with Minnesota, Detroit, Florida and Oakland. Rhodes
is 72-54 with 26 saves and a 4.48 career ERA since 1991 with
Baltimore, Seattle and Oakland. He began last season as the
Athletics' closer but lost the job after they acquired Octavio Dotel from Houston.
Redman has two seasons and $8.75 million remaining on an $11
million, three-year contract, while Rhodes has two seasons and
about $7.4 million left on his $9.2 million, three-year contract.