Dodgers Acquire All-Star Closer Sherill From O's

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Adding a big arm to their bullpen, the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers acquired former All-Star closer George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday for two minor leaguers.

The rebuilding Orioles receive third baseman Josh Bell and right-hander Steve Johnson, both of whom were at Double-A Chattanooga.

Sherrill has 20 saves for last-place Baltimore and gives Los Angeles, with the best record in the NL, a left-handed complement to All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton. Sherrill is expected to join the Dodgers on Friday in Atlanta.

"It's a great move for us," Broxton said in St. Louis. "It gives us an extra arm, and he's got some innings under his belt. If some nights I need a night off or whatever, he can pick up big innings for us."

An AL All-Star last season, the 32-year-old Sherrill is 0-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He has limited opponents to a .219 batting average in 2009.

"I expect he will help us. Obviously, Broxton is our closer," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said before his team played the Cardinals. "But we'll use him late in the game -- eighth, ninth inning. It gives us a backup, an experienced backup."

Sherrill set a career high with 31 saves last season, his first with the Orioles. He came to Baltimore from Seattle as part of a five-for-one deal that sent pitcher Erik Bedard to the Mariners.

With the Orioles well on their way to a 12th straight losing season, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail cast an eye toward the future in trading away his closer.

"There does come a time when we have to address our needs down the road, and we think that's what this trade represents," MacPhail said. "We will have to endure short-term pain, but we're pretty sure we'll get some long-term gain."

The contract of 37-year-old Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora expires after this season and the organization is thin at the position in the minor leagues. That made the 22-year-old Bell -- who was hitting .296 with 11 home runs and 52 RBIs in 94 games with Chattanooga -- the key component in the trade for Baltimore.

"Anytime you take on a guy who isn't a big league player there's a certain amount of risk, particularly when you're giving up a proven player. But you've got to look at the potential reward down the road," MacPhail said. "Josh was a very attractive player for us at a position where, at the high level of the minor leagues, we really weren't satisfied where we were."

The Dodgers, on the other hand, are stocked with third basemen. Although he was sad to leave the organization that drafted him out of high school, Bell welcomed the chance to get on a faster track to the big leagues.

"It's definitely mixed emotions," he said. "But when it comes down to it, I feel like I've got a good shot with the Orioles. If I keep up with what I've been doing and get better, I've got a straight shot there, whereas here I was blocked."

The 21-year-old Johnson was 9-5 with a 3.61 ERA overall in Class-A and Double-A. The right-hander is the son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, now a broadcaster for the team.

"It's always nice to play for the hometown team," Steve Johnson said. "I've proved myself, and hopefully I'll get the chance to make it up there with the Orioles sometime soon."

After the Orioles beat Kansas City 7-3 on Thursday, Sherrill said he appreciated being coveted by a contender as Friday's non-waiver trade deadline drew closer.

"It's flattering to have somebody want you on another team, but it's also flattering to have your own team set the bar high and not just give you away," he said.

With Sherrill gone, the Orioles will probably use Jim Johnson as their closer. He has been used primarily as a setup man this season.

In another move, the Dodgers recalled Scott Elbert from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned fellow left-hander Brent Leach to their top farm club.


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