Orioles, Giants swap relievers

By Aaron Fitt
December 7, 2005

The Giants found a cheaper replacement for lefthanded reliever Scott Eyre when they acquired Steve Kline from the Orioles for LaTroy Hawkins and cash.

The Giants were without a lefthanded set-up man after Eyre signed with the Cubs for $11 million over three years. Kline will make just $3 million in 2006, though the Giants included cash in the deal to help compensate for the difference between Kline’s salary and Hawkins’ $4.35 million price tag next season.

Kline, 33, figures to benefit from a change of scenery after he reportedly alienated teammates and fans with his vocal criticism of former Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. He went 2-4, 4.28 in 61 innings over 67 appearances but pitched much better after the all-star break, posting a 2.83 ERA. Kline has proven durable in his nine-year big league career, working at least 66 games in each of the past eight seasons. He has held lefthanded hitters to a .227 average in his career.

Hawkins, 33, was expendable for the Giants after they signed righthander Tim Worrell to a two-year, $4 million contract last week. Hawkins, who first broke into the majors in 1995 and pitched his first nine seasons with the Twins, went 1-4, 4.10 in 37 innings for the Giants last year after being acquired from the Cubs for righthanders Jerome Williams and David Aardsma. He finished 2-8, 3.83 in 56 innings overall, posting his highest ERA since 2002, when put up a 5.96 ERA.

Though Hawkins has 75 career saves, the Orioles figure to use him as a set-up man. He could also be insurance in case Baltimore fails to sign a proven closer to replace B.J. Ryan, or if 23-year-old Chris Ray struggles in that role.