Originally created 08/02/97

Chicago's Belle could be trade bait

As expected, Mark McGwire was traded. Unexpectedly, Albert Belle was discussed.

It was a busy day in baseball right up until the midnight EDT trading deadline Thursday. The St. Louis Cardinals made a blockbuster move by getting McGwire, the Seattle Mariners bolstered their bullpen, the Cleveland Indians enriched their rotation and the San Francisco Giants pumped up their entire pitching staff.

There were seven deals in all, with Heathcliff Slocumb, Jeff Juden, Wilson Alvarez and Jose Cruz Jr. among those on the go.

And there might be plenty of swaps ahead in August.

Trades are allowed the rest of the regular season, but players must now pass through waivers, making some deals tricky to complete.

Even so, maybe that means Belle will find a new address. The Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees talked Thursday about the $55 million slugger.

"The Yankees approached us and asked about Albert Belle," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. "And we said, `No, thank you."'

Reports in New York, meanwhile, indicated that it was the White Sox who called the Yankees. Whatever, there was no deal.

But with Belle carrying such a high price tag, it's not likely that any team would claim him if the White Sox put him on waivers, meaning a trade is possible.

Without a doubt, a lot of players are available.

Rickey Henderson of San Diego could be among them. Pitchers Terry Mulholland, Mel Rojas and Turk Wendell of the Chicago Cubs can be had. Same goes for starters Dave Burba and Pete Schourek of Cincinnati.

The last-place Philadelphia Phillies heard from several teams Thursday about closer Ricky Bottalico and second baseman Mickey Morandini.

Several teams, however, liked what they heard. A quick recap of Thursday's trades, a couple of them announced after midnight:

  • St. Louis got Mark McGwire from Oakland for pitchers T.J. Mathews, Eric Ludwick and Blake Stein. McGwire, eligible for free agency after the season, has hit 34 home runs; the Cardinals have three more games left than the A's, meaning McGwire gets a few extra swings to break Roger Maris' mark of 61.
  • Seattle got closer Heathcliff Slocumb from Boston for former Georgia Tech catcher Jason Varitek and pitcher Derek Lowe, and acquired relievers Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric from Toronto for Jose Cruz Jr. The AL West-leading Mariners have blown 15 saves, prompting them to trade Cruz, one of baseball's best young players.
  • Cleveland got righty Jeff Juden from Montreal for pitcher Steve Kline and a player to be named, and acquired lefty John Smiley from Cincinnati in a six-player deal.
  • San Francisco got pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez (formerly of USC-Aiken) and Danny Darwin from the Chicago White Sox for six minor leaguers.
  • Montreal got rookie pitcher Mike Johnson from Baltimore for a player to be named.
  • Also, the Texas Rangers signed six-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who had been eligible for free agency, to a five-year contract extension worth $42 million.


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