Let the rumors begin, be they surrounding the Baltimore Orioles or anyone else! Today starts the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, being held this year in Nashville, TN. This is really when baseball’s hot stove season begins. This week we’ll see trades, signings, news, etc. The question is what will end up being the biggest news that comes out of this week, and/or what will be the biggest surprise? Last year those two aspects were the same piece of news, with Albert Pujols signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Will we see anything along those lines this week?
Specifically, who might the Orioles be looking at? Dan Duquette has seemed to indicate that the O’s might be looking more at the trade market than at free agents. Take Duquette’s commentary at face value if you’d like, however only time will tell if that’s true. Last year the Orioles had no interest in free agent Josh Willingham; this season all kinds of rumors link the two parties together. On the flip side, there’s apparently been some interest in some of the Orioles’ young pitchers for quite some time. We now know that there was a lot of interest in Jake Arrieta as the trade deadline approached back in July. Would the Orioles consider dealing him, or perhaps the likes of Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, or anyone else?
Josh Hamilton remains on the free agent market, and we’ve heard much of the same things out of Duquette and the Orioles regarding him that we heard out of them last year with regard to Prince Fielder. Many people thought Fielder would sign during the winter meetings in 2011, yet that didn’t come until late January. Let’s say for a moment that the Orioles were to land Hamilton; would that make Nolan Reimold expendable? Does that put a damper on the Orioles’ need for resigning Nate McLouth (as they’ve been rumored to want to do)? My personal view is that first base is their most pressing need right now, so that along with perhaps pitching should be their priority. However if a hitter like Hamilton was in play, the Birds would probably be foolish not to at least flirt with the idea. Regardless of what Duquette says, I think they’re doing just that.
At the very least, the winter meetings are a sign that the off season is progressing. Another name that will be dropped this week is of course Zach Greinke, who’s also a free agent. The Orioles are rumored to have interest in the likes of Billy Butler, formally of the Kansas City Royals, along with the above-mentioned Josh Willingham. The rule five draft will take place at the end of the week before the culmination of the meetings. Keep in mind that the Orioles drafted Ryan Flaherty in last year’s rule five draft. It’s doubtful that they’ll be as big of a contributor to the rule five draft in 2012, however it’ll be interesting to see how the draft itself shakes down. All in all, it should be an interesting week around the league to say the least.