Advertisement

Finley Trade Looks Likely

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A baseball source familiar with trade talks regarding pitcher Chuck Finley said the team “is confident a deal will be worked out” by this afternoon, and the Cleveland Indians appear to be the clear front-runners for the Angel left-hander.

But if Finley is on the mound for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins, that will be a pretty good indication he will finish out his career with the Angels.

Finley has given the Angels until 3 p.m. today to work out a deal with the Indians or New York Yankees, the only teams Finley said he would approve a trade to.

“But if they’re still squabbling over players, I’ll go ahead and pitch,” said Finley, who met with General Manager Bill Bavasi for about five minutes after Friday night’s 3-1 loss to the Twins before 38,319 in Edison Field. “It’ll all come together [today] one way or another.”

Advertisement

Finley, who can veto any trade because he has at least 10 years of major league experience, five with the same team, said he would be willing to discuss a contract extension with the Indians or Yankees, but he said that is not a prerequisite to any trade.

“I think they’re all pondering the fact that I might come back here [next season],” said Finley, who is in the final year of a four-year, $18-million contract. “I don’t think they want to give up four guys to rent me for two or three months.”

He expects to talk with Bavasi and Angel President Tony Tavares, Indian General Manager John Hart and Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman before he makes a final decision.

The non-waiver trade deadline is tonight at 9 PDT.

Advertisement

“I want to hear what their intent is,” Finley said. “If they say they just want to rent me for two months, that might affect my decision. Bill and Tony might say, ‘This is what we’ll do for you,’ so it could affect whether I stay or go.”

Talks with the Indians have focused on speedy infielder Enrique Wilson, who could fill the void left by Thursday night’s trade of second baseman Randy Velarde to Oakland, and minor league pitchers Willie Martinez, David Riske and Jared Camp.

Martinez, a 21-year-old from Venezuela, is 9-5 with a 4.00 earned-run average at double-A Akron. Riske, 22, is a highly touted closer who had 33 saves and 2.33 ERA at Class-A Kinston in 1998 and has split this season between Akron (0-0, 1.90 ERA, 12 saves in 23 games) and triple-A Buffalo (3-0, 0.96 ERA, three saves in 16 games). Camp, 24, went 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA in 11 games at Akron before recently being promoted to Buffalo.

An Indian package for Finley, who has a 16-9 career record against the Yankees and had two superb outings against New York this season, would likely include Wilson and either one or two pitchers.

Advertisement

The Yankees have discussed sending pitcher Ramiro Mendoza and top pitching prospect Ryan Bradley to Anaheim, a potential deal Yankee owner George Steinbrenner endorses because he wants to keep Finley away from the Indians and is fed up with struggling left-hander Andy Pettitte, who the Yankees have been trying to trade to the Phillies.

But Yankee sources said Friday that Manager Joe Torre and Cashman prefer not to disrupt their current rotation--even with Pettitte--and that Steinbrenner may defer to them in the Finley matter.

Though it has been an incredibly frustrating season for Finley, who has played his entire 14-year career in Anaheim, it’s doubtful he would leave with as bitter a taste in his mouth as Velarde, who endured an emotionally draining day Thursday. His mother-in-law suffered a massive heart attack, and then he was dealt to the A’s with Omar Olivares.

“I’m pretty much burnt mentally,” Velarde told reporters in Oakland Friday.

Advertisement

But Velarde, who was very critical of Manager Terry Collins earlier this season, was relieved to leave the Angels, who have spent the past two weeks losing 13 of 14 games and ripping each other in newspapers.

“It’s not a good atmosphere over there right now,” Velarde said. “It’s good to get out of it and get a fresh start with a team that’s young and hungry. We’ll see a lot more Indians over here than chiefs.”

Things didn’t get much better for the Angels Friday night, as Twins right-hander Brad Radke threw a complete-game seven-hitter to drop the Angels 17 1/2 games behind Texas in the American League West.


Advertisement