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Orioles Coming Home Empty-handed? Not So Fast

December 12, 2013

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- I wrote Dec. 7 that things with the Orioles were up in the air heading into the MLB winter meetings. 

It now looks as if the Orioles' only additions to their 40-man roster between that time and the end of the winter meetings will be relief pitcher Ryan Webb, who actually agreed to terms with the team Dec. 6, and Rule 5 draft pickup Michael Almanzar, whom the Orioles acquired from the Boston Red Sox Dec. 12. A corner infielder, Almanzar played in 131 games for Double-A Portland last season and batted .268 with 16 home runs.

So, as disappointing as the trip was, the inactivity doesn't mean they were not actively trying to make some things happen. But given the Orioles' stance that starting pitchers are not worth a whole lot of money, it's hard to make strides from anywhere but within.

But the O's clearly tried. Bartolo Colon, the 40-year-old ageless wonder, reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets Dec. 11. Colon was a free-agent pitcher who could have been a good fit for the Orioles, but perhaps they deemed him not worthy of more than a one-year contract.

I would have added the additional year simply because he was a potential difference maker and he was within reach. Unless my surmising on the A.J. Burnett front is correct, that would leave mostly the leftovers. Johan Santana and Gavin Floyd are both names that come with a price tag commensurate with the risk-and-reward game.

Two other names to keep in mind are Chad Gaudin and another I haven't heard as much in connection with the Orioles, ex-Padre free agent Tim Stauffer.

Of course, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are out there, but so is Sandy Koufax. The Orioles stand a better chance getting Koufax, because of his relationship with Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace, than they do any of the other three.

On the offensive side of things, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has been telling the media that the team was in the market for a left-handed hitter. Well, with Mariners reportedly agreeing to a deal with Logan Morrison and the Angels apparently interested in Raul Ibanez, maybe that was all a smoke screen, and Baltimore's true intention all along was to make a serious run at Nelson Cruz.

But MASN's Roch Kubatko wrote that, according to his sources, the reports of the Orioles offering Cruz a deal in the neighborhood of four years and $60 million are exaggerated.

On the closer front, multiple sources, including and, are reporting that the Orioles have made offers to both Grant Balfour and John Axford.

As Duquette briefed reporters, he showed no outward signs of frustration -- he's been down this road a time or two. When asked whether he felt pressure to get something done, he stressed that although it was important to make moves at the winter meetings, sometimes teams lay the groundwork and make a deal later.

Right now, it looks as if that is what the club is hoping for.


One tidbit to come out of the Dec. 11 briefing had to do with the contract situation of shortstop J.J. Hardy, who is heading into the final year of a three-year extension signed in 2011. When asked whether the ballclub was contemplating an extension for Hardy, Duquette said he thought there was mutual interest between Hardy and the Orioles in extending his time in Baltimore.