Trade deadline means sleepless night for players

By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - With the trade deadline ticking down it will be a sleepless night for more than a few major leaguers Friday who will go to bed wondering if they will be with the same team in the morning.

Toronto slugger Jose Bautista is one player who has attracted plenty of interest from contending teams but the big league home run leader with 31 will likely sleep a little sounder after smashing his third career grand slam to help power the Blue Jays to an 8-1 win over the Cleveland Indians.

While Bautista is making it tough for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous to deal him, Cleveland's Austin Kearns was on his way to a new home, shipped to the New York Yankees for cash and a player to be named later.

With the trade window set to close at 4pm EST on Saturday, Friday saw a flurry of activity as some teams positioned themselves for a World Series run while others began the rebuilding process by stockpiling prospects.

The final few hours are sure to be anxious ones for players rumored to be on the move but a philosophical Bautista, who knows what it is like to traded having been a member of five teams in one season, said he was ready for whatever happens.

"Everything will take care of itself," Bautista told reporters. "I hope the team likes what is going on and they keep me around.

Blue Jays fans, Bautista's team mates, and manager Cito Gaston are hoping they do not find him cleaning out his locker Saturday.


But Anthopoulous has been tight-lipped about trade rumors while acknowledging there has been plenty of interest in the slugger.

"I'd like to see him stay here because I think he is going to help this ball club," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. "He can play the outfield, he can play third base, he can play first base along with driving in runs and hitting home runs too.

"But it's up to Alex if he sees something that he thinks is going to make this club better in the long run then he might want to do (it). But if you ask me I'd like to see him stay here."

With the wheeling-and-dealing expected to continue right up until the final seconds of the trade deadline there could be plenty of shuffling in locker rooms across the major leagues, particularly in Toronto where the rebuilding Blue Jays and Indians have put out open for business signs.

Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay, catcher John Buck and pitchers Scott Downs and Jason Frasor have all been mentioned in trade rumors while the Indians, who are holding down last place in the American League Central, have already moved shortstop Jhonny Peralta to Detroit and Kearns to the Yankees.

As usual the Yankees are making plenty of noise at the deadline, acquiring Kearns, who is expected to be joined in the Bronx by Houston Astros slugger Lance Berkman.

Major League Baseball's official website,, was reporting Friday that Berkman, a switch-hitting five-time all-star, was traded to Yankees but the deal will not be made official until Saturday.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)