The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec looks at five key questions for the Orioles as they head into this year's Winter Meetings. He's also got some quotes from Andy MacPhail talking about the Orioles' views on this year's free agent market. Let's go over some highlights:
- MacPhail states that the O's will be less active at the Winter Meetings than they were in 2008, when they signed Cesar Izturis, traded Ramon Hernandez, and offered a $140MM contract to Mark Teixeira. He does, however, state that when the offseason is said and done, Baltimore will likely have been more active than it was overall last year.
- Don't expect a major move from Baltimore this week. They don't have a free agent target singled out and will likely wait to see how the market takes shape as time progresses.
- While they'd like to add an impact hitter, the Orioles are unlikely to pursue names like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, and MacPhail isn't big on the idea of trading his top prospects for short-term fixes. So far, the O's aren't thought to be bidders for veteran outfield/DH types like Jermaine Dye, Hideki Matsui, and Vladimir Guerrero.
- Luke Scott is likely Baltimore's biggest trade chip. Moving Scott would allow Nolan Reimold to DH while recovering from surgery, and improve defense by getting Felix Pie more at-bats in left field.
- Ty Wigginton is also mentioned as a trade chip. Zrebiec says the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed by an offer to move Jeremy Guthrie, and have a way to secure two veteran arms to replace him as well.
- MacPhail would prefer not to sign a closer that will cost their second-round pick, such as Jose Valverde, Mike Gonzalez, or Rafael Soriano. Zrebiec mentions Kevin Gregg as a possibility.
- The Orioles have had talks with John Lackey's agent, but aren't expected to be serious bidders for the former Halos ace. They'll look at names like Ben Sheets, Rich Harden, and Erik Bedard instead.
- After Radhames Liz was claimed by the Padres, Baltimore found themselves with an open spot on its 40-man roster. MacPhail would prefer to give a homegrown player a shot rather than make a Rule 5 selection, unless he's convinced that the Rule 5 Draft offers something that their minor league clubs currently don't have.