According to MASN's Roch Kubatko, the Orioles are simply looking for "any kind of pitching" as the club winds down its winter shopping. While corner infield help ostensibly remains at the top of Baltimore's shopping list, O's GM Andy MacPhail told Kubatko that it isn't a critical priority given the club's organizational strength at the corners (i.e. prospects Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder).
As for pitching, however, MacPhail said, "we'll always sort of stay in the hunt for pitching." Here's what MacPhail had to say about two potential free-agent targets...
- Erik Bedard. We've heard some rumors about the O's looking to bring the left-hander back to Baltimore, but the lack of activity should not be taken as a decline in interest on the club's part. Bedard "doesn't seem to be in a rush to sign" with anyone, and MacPhail noted that Bedard was likely to sign "a late-January type deal anyway, if that." Given how Bedard's probable contract will be a one or two-year, incentive-laden deal, it makes sense that clubs would wait to see how the rest of the offseason pitching market shakes down before making Bedard an offer. MacPhail added that based on some preliminary medical information the Baltimore staff has received about Bedard, the southpaw will be able to pitch before midseason, contrary to what some reports have suggested.
- Mark Hendrickson. It's been widely assumed that Hendrickson would re-sign with Baltimore, and the pitcher himself said he was hoping to get a deal done quickly back in October. But now we're a third of the way through January and the left-hander is still a free agent. MacPhail said the team is still interested in bringing Hendrickson back, but they have been waiting "to see how some of these other things play out, as far as what we do and how extensive it's going to be and how our roster shapes up. So we can't quite commit yet, but we never pretended that there wasn't interest."
Kubatko also reported that the door seems to be closed on Ben Sheets joining the Orioles. Sheets fit the Bedard mold as a pitcher who would sign a short-term deal, but Kubatko said Baltimore asked for (and never received) Sheets' medical records. Sheets "apparently wants to be paid as if he isn't a health risk," which is a pretty firm negotiating stance for a pitcher who hasn't appeared in a Major League game since 2008.