Jeff Zrebiec Rumors
MLBTR: Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts are elite players under team control through 2009. If you had to guess, will both be playing for the Orioles on Opening Day 2008?
Zrebiec: Yes, I would guess that both will be Orioles on Opening Day. I've been surprised about the lack of trade buzz surrounding Roberts. I can't help but think that it is because O's owner Peter Angelos has already nixed one deal involving Roberts last year and has made his fondness for the second baseman known. I just think Roberts means more to the Orioles than he would to any other team and I don't see MacPhail moving him unless he's totally overwhelmed. And even then, good luck convincing Angelos to sign off on the deal.
Bedard is a little trickier. MacPhail and Mark Pieper, Bedard and Roberts' agent, have been talking "conceptually" about an contract extension for Bedard. I think people in the organization are split on whether they should secure long term the team's first legit ace since Mike Mussina or trade him and get multiple major league ready young players in return to a roster that is badly in need of them. If Bedard's contract demands aren't reasonable, that could make their decision for them. But even if that's the case, I don't see the O's in a hurry to do anything since Bedard is still under contractual control for two more seasons.
MLBTR: Andy MacPhail has said he doesn't expect to be in on many free agents, but there was a rumor that the O's are entertaining Jose Guillen [note: written prior to debunking]. Do you expect them to spend any money on free agents this winter?
Zrebiec: First, the Guillen report was inaccurate. He's exactly the type of player the Orioles are not interested in at this stage. As for other free agents, I see the Orioles making a couple of small, low price/low risk signings to fill out their roster.
For example, I could see them signing a veteran starter on the cheap, somebody in the Steve Trachsel mold. I wouldn't rule out them signing a reliever, though it won't be at anywhere close to the contracts they gave out last year for Bradford, Walker and Baez. And if Tejada is traded and I fully expect him to be, signing a guy like Cesar Izturis could appeal to them. They've liked him in the past.
But for the most part, I think you'll see them try to fill their holes in trades and then patching a couple of spots up with one or two signings. I think it was telling that MacPhail didn't have one extensive meeting with an agent at the GM meetings.
I recently named the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec as Rumor Royalty for the Orioles. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site.
MLBTR: Give us an example of a reasonable trade bounty for a team acquiring Miguel Tejada. Do you think the Orioles are targeting a certain number of players or certain positions? If the acquiring team intended to move him to third base, would this become a problem?
Zrebiec: All indications are that the Orioles are still looking for two high-level prospects for Tejada. I'm not sure they'll get that now with Tejada's defensive concerns and declining power numbers, but that could change when Miguel Cabrera is no longer on the market. The Orioles are in desperate need for young position player talent, but president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has acknowledged that he is in no position to discriminate. He wants to bring in as much young talent as possible this offseason, regardless of position. "We'll sort it out later," he has said.
Tejada has given conflicting answers in the past about whether he'll move to 3B. He has made it clear that he'd prefer to stay at shortstop. However, he has also said that he would make the move for a playoff-caliber team. I don't foresee it being a problem at all. Everybody that knows Miguel insists that all he wants to do is win, and he'll do what he has to do to make that happen.
Rumor Royalty is an MLBTR feature that honors the best journalist for each team in terms of hot stove material. The Newark Star-Ledger's Dan Graziano recently snagged the honor for the Yankees.
The choice for the Baltimore Orioles was really easy for me. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec owns Orioles hot stove chatter; he gets all the scoops. Here's a link to the Sun's baseball page, where his work can be found. I asked Jeff three hot stove questions, which will be posted here separately over the next couple of days.