A major trade by the Mariners for starting pitcher Erik Bedard could happen within 24 hours after the team today pulled outfielder Adam Jones out of further winter ball action.

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A major trade by the Mariners for starting pitcher Erik Bedard could happen within 24 hours after the team today pulled outfielder Adam Jones out of further winter ball action.

Jones was pulled from the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs by the Mariners and told reporters there that he is flying to Baltimore for a physical on Monday in advance of being dealt to the Orioles. Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly confirmed that Jones will no longer be playing in Venezuela, but he did not give any further comment on a trade for Bedard.

“We’ve told him to come home to the U.S.,” Hevly said of Jones. “I can’t say anything beyond that.”

But Jones did say plenty. He told a reporter from Diario Panorama in Venezuela that Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi has made him the centerpiece of a Bedard deal.

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“(Bavasi) called me yesterday and told me the news,” Jones said. “I’ve got to go to Baltimore tomorrow morning and handle things there. I’m the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners’ side. It’s an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is.

“He’s one of the best. Last year, he finished up as arguably one of the top candidates for the Cy Young,” Jones added. “He’s that good, so for me, it’s an honor. You know, I like Seattle, but if I am in Baltimore, as I think I am now, I’m going to embrace it and have the best time of my life in Major League Baseball.”

Jones added that he doesn’t know what to expect from his new team.

“It’s going to be weird being in a whole new organization,” he said. “I’ve got to go to Florida for spring training, but I just have to go over there, just meet all the guys, get in with them good and play baseball the way I know I play.”

There is no word yet on which other Mariners players or prospects are being included in the deal. Mariners relief pitcher George Sherrill said this afternoon that he had yet to be told he was part of the trade package.

“I hope if I am part of it that somebody tells me before Wednesday because that’s when we’re supposed to head down to Phoenix,” Sherrill said of his departure for spring training. “I spoke to (manager) John (McLaren) recently and I let him know that I want to be a Mariner for life.

“It’s the team that plucked me out of the independent league and so I’ll always have a spot in my heart for it and want to stay with the organization. But I know that rarely happens anymore.”

Sherrill took a physical at season’s end and recently had his contract renewed by the team without taking another one. He has long been rumored as a part of any deal, but it’s unclear whether he’d need to take an additional physical before one being completed.

The Orioles were said to be seeking a package centered around Jones and at least two other players. Some of the names mentioned included Sherrill, Brandon Morrow, and minor-leaguers Jeff Clement, Carlos Triunfel and Chris Tillman.

Bavasi had been hinting he was reluctant to trade either Morrow or Triunfel in such a deal.

Bedard went 13-6 with a 3.16 earned-run average for the Orioles last season in a campaign that ended for him on Aug. 25 because of a strained oblique muscle. Before the injury, he’d been considered a leading contender for the Cy Young Award, having logged 182 innings pitched and 221 strikeouts in just under five months of action.

The left-hander has two years remaining before he is eligible for free agency. He could earn up to $8 million in arbitration this season, but he said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun on Friday that he is open to a possible contract extension.

Bedard would become the No. 1 starter in Seattle’s rotation, slotting ahead of incumbent Felix Hernandez and giving Seattle one of the better one-two punches in baseball. Jones is a highly-touted outfield prospect who hit 25 home runs and posted 84 runs batted in with a .968 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for Class AAA Tacoma last year.

He was called up by the Mariners in August and slotted to start in right field this season. The Orioles hope to make him their center fielder and a cornerstone of their rebuilding franchise for years to come.

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