November 25, 2004

A's, Pirates closing in on Kendall trade

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 approve it.

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.

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