In a conversation with MASN Sports' Steve Melewski, Baltimore Orioles president Andy MacPhail indicated that the team wouldn't rule out pursuing a top-tier free agent this offseason.
MacPhail pointed to the $140MM offer that the club made to Mark Teixeira last winter as an example of the Orioles' willingness to negotiate with the bigger names on the market: "To think we wouldn't go out there or that offer somehow is not genuine is absurd. It's over twice what was offered in the history of the franchise before.
"We have to be careful about who those (big dollar) players are. And I have to be responsible. Contracts of that magnitude, unless you are an extraordinarily wealthy club, can sink a franchise. You have to be judicious when you go out there. But we were out there a year ago."
MacPhail also confirmed that estimates putting the Orioles' current 2010 commitments (including raises to arbitration-eligible players) at about $45MM "are not terribly off the mark." Given that the team's payroll has been right around $67MM for the last two seasons, the Orioles could have $20MM+ to fill out their roster. Spreading that money out over a few inexpensive signings seems more likely, but MacPhail's comments suggest that the Orioles are keeping their options open.