Roberts now or never?

If the Cubs’ winter-long pursuit of Baltimore’s Brian Roberts is going to land the switch-hitting second baseman and admitted steroid dabbler, then it could be coming in the next few days. On the other hand, if O’s owner Peter Angelos has nixed another would-be deal involving pitcher Erik Bedard, as some media outlets have suggested tonight, then a would-be Roberts deal to the Cubs might actually, finally be dead.

Baltimore’s long-stale talks involving their big remaining trade chips of the winter, Bedard and Roberts, finally appeared to be ready to move again with word over the weekend that Seattle had pulled touted outfield prospect Adam Jones from the Winter League playoffs in Venezuela and told him to get on a plane to the U.S. because he was being traded to Baltimore as the centerpiece in a Bedard deal. Seattle pitcher George Sherrill told reporters that he was also informed he’d be going to the Orioles in the deal.

O’s president Andy MacPhail, the old Cubs boss, has said he wants to get any possible big trades done by the end of the month (i.e., before Friday), and insiders on both sides have said the O’s wanted to move Bedard before turning their attention to a possible Roberts deal.

But just as word of a Bedard-to-Seattle deal spread, several media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun, said it’s not done yet, and two national outlets said that Angelos has either killed the deal — in hopes of signing Bedard to a long-term extension, after all — or at least delayed approval.

The Cubs are the eager bystanders in the whole affair, frothing as they wait for a chance to pounce on Roberts. But if a Bedard deal is indeed a litmus test of MacPhail’s autonomy in deal-making, as has been widely suggested, then any holdup by Angelos, a meddlesome headache for his GMs for years, could doom any possible deal for Roberts, one of Angelos’ favorite Oriole players.

Bottom line: Keep your eye on the bouncing Bedard.

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