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November 19, 2010

Orioles' free agent tidbits

I've already gotten a few questions about the report out of Japan that the Orioles will bid on shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. From what I've been told, the Orioles still haven't decided whether they will bid or not on Nishioka, who was posted by the Chiba Lotte Marines earlier this week. And even if they did bid, few expect that the total would be enough to land the opportunity to exclusively negotiate with the player. The Orioles do have some interest in Nishioka, but they also think the price of the posting fee, coupled by the contract that the player will be looking for, will far exceed what they view as the infielder's worth.

While we are at it discussing other reports, the Orioles are not aggressively pursuing free agent starter Jorge de la Rosa. They have what I would describe as tepid interest in the lefty, and haven't crossed him off their list, but their attention is on spending money to upgrade the offense, not giving out multi-year deals to middle-of-the-rotation starters. I still believe that if the Orioles add a starter this offseason, it will be via a trade or on a low-risk one-year signing, or even on a minor league deal. De la Rosa will be able to do much, much better than that.

The Orioles have had multiple conversations with the representatitve of closer Koji Uehara, who has interest in returning to Baltimore at the right price. It would surprise me, however, if the Orioles would be willing to offer him a two-year deal. If another team is willing to extend Uehara a guaranteed two-year offer, I'd be surprised if he's back in an Orioles' uniform in 2011. Either way, Uehara appears to be at the top of the Orioles' list of their own free agents that they want to resign.

The Orioles will probably make between "four and six" additions to their 40-man roster before Saturday's deadline. Top pitching prospect Zach Britton is obviously a given, and you'd think guys like Ryan Adams and Wynn Pelzer, who have been watched closely by scouts for several weeks in the Arizona Fall League, are also under heavy consideration. I see no chance that former first round pick Billy Rowell is added to the 40-man, meaning that the Orioles could lose him in next month's Rule 5 draft. I cannot imagine another team deeming Rowell, who has played three straight years at Single-A Frederick, ready to hold down a 25-man roster spot for the duration of the 2011 season. So really, leaving him unprotected is not much of a gamble at all.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 11:23 AM | | Comments (29)
        

Comments

Jeff, Any word on how hotly O's are pursuing Beltre?

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Jeff Z's reply: Hard to say how "hotly" they are pursuing him. They've talked to Boras and let him know how interested they are. Pretty clear that he's one of their top priorities. But money talks, and I just don't know how if they are ready to outbid the other 10 or 11 teams reportedly interested in Beltre

What about Steve Johnson? I know he had a bad first half last year but still has potential.

If the Orioles aren't going to get Nishioka (where the asking price is just cash), then they really ought to take the deal from Tampa Bay for Jason Bartlett (where the asking price is a middling 26-year-old right handed reliever).

Jeff, is it fair to say Rowell is a bust

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Jeff Z's reply: I hate to say that about a 22-year-old. And to be honest, he did make some progress this past season. But it is fair to say that it doesn't look good and 2011 is close to a make-or-break year.

They should pay someone to take Rowell off their hands; like waive the $25,000 return fee when his new team decides to dump him!

I don't get it. Why even scout a player like Nishioka if you already know that his bidding fee and overall price tag will cost too much and not be of value? Seriously, sounds like a waste of time. Just another MacPhail BS tactic...."we really liked him and we tried to get him but we just got outbid..."

That's a shame about de la Rosa. His high GB% and K rate would be good at OPACY. Personally, I think he's on the verge of being a top shelf guy. I know that's weird to say about a 29 year old, but Cliff Lee didn't really turn it on until he was 30. Alas, if we could sign Jon Garland for a year or two, that would probably work (not as high K rate, but a steadier GB%) and be slightly less risky given de la Rosa's recent injuries.

Giving up Hernandez for Bartlett isn't really an option when Bartlett is a non-tender candidate.

And the O's should really offer Uehara arbitration. Considering what Joaquin Benoit just got, Uehara would most likely turn it down and the team would get a sandwich round pick, making tthe signing of a Type A FA that much less painful (draft wise). If not, then that's a solid arm for the back of the bullpen, who you overpay slightly for 1 year.

I think De la Rosa is a good pitcher, although with an injury history. He will be a nice bargain for someone. That being said, I'm not sure he's the type of guy the Orioles should be pursuing right now.

Beltre is going to be overpriced, and I hope the O's don't go too far with him if other teams are going to go after him.

Is Orlando Cabrera on the table? For a 1-year rental he might not be a bad choice: good glove, better bat than Izturis, might come cheap. I would do a move like that rather than pick up one year of Hardy or Bartlett for Hernandez.

The player drafted immediately after Billy Rowell was Tim Lincecum.

Sigh.

Nice to see they are focusing on everyone but a power hitter. They really need to get out there and sign Dunn. But instead, some other team will get him. Konerko will re-sign with the Sox. Then we will get Derrek Lee and told next year will be the year we sign a big bat(again)..and so on and so on..

I've been more patient than most with the O's, but this news really irritates me. First, we've been saving $ for years for the right time to spend on free agents, including overseas players. So why won't we make a strong bid for Nishioka? We have a need at that position, and if he's major-league ready, give him the $. It appears more and more likely that we won't upgrade much at third or first, so maybe shortstop is where we should spend. Second, Koji was one of the main reasons we finished so strong last season. We know he's incredibly valuable when he's healthy. So let's offer him 2 guaranteed years...if he's injured part of that time, so be it. I'd rather "risk" my $ on someone I know is valuable when he's healthy than on some washed up former star who we're hoping will get back his mojo. And third, PLEASE remove that O's-Tigers box score (last game of the year) from the web page. Are we going to have to see that all the way through opening day?? Just because it was the last game they played doesn't mean it has to be up there until the next game is played.

Offering Uehara arbitration makes sense. If he accepts, they keep him for a year; if he refuses, they get an extra draft pick.
Choosing the 40-man roster seems to me to be a bit of guesswork : What players would be most attractive to other major league teams? Those are the ones you protect. Except for all those exempt because they haven't been professional long enough.
And, in the minor league phase, as I understand it (tell me if i"m wrong) teams at the higher level can draft from those unprotected at the lower level. I assume eligibility in the minor league draft is based on years of experience. Yes?
So which 7-8 players (Orioles have 32 protected right now) should be added? Mostly pitchers, I would suspect, as few position players are ready to jump from AA (and the Orioles don't have much in AAA!). Britton is a gimme. Beato too. Egan? Diaz? Henson? Mahoney probably. Adams yeah. Waring?

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Jeff Z's reply: If I had to guess, my predictions would be Britton, Adams, Beato, Pelzer and Mahoney. But again, just a guess as I would think Britton is only sure thing.

Any guesses on whether or not the O's will offer Uehara arbitration? I know they'd likely have to pay a higher base salary then they want to if he accepts, but I find it hard to believe they couldn't afford to take that risk next season. Losing Uehara and not receiving a pick back as compensation is going to hurt, especially if the O's sign one or two Type A FA's.

Here is an out of nowhere question.....What is the status of Eric Gagne? Is he still in MLB?

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Jeff Z's reply: No, he's not in the big leagues right now.

If the O's scouted Nishioka and believe he can play shortstop and be effective, then bid for him. Fans don't like being patronized with the club simply saying someone else bid more. If we like him, go get him. This is one of the few avenues of adding to your team w/out subracting talent. No trade, no draft pick, etc. "Just" $$$. We've put up with excuses before but we know they have $$ to spend. If they truly believe he is a legit Major league ready shortstop, then go get him. Don't avoid bidding or submit a smaller bid to appear interested. He's either good enough or he's not. If he's ready, let us do the overbidding and bring him here and fill an obvious hole without losing any of our already thin talent.

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Jeff Z's reply: That's exactly it though, Al. They like him enough but they don't project him to a regular big league SS and thus don't feel that he's worth the money he's going to get. They feel that kind of money would be better served elsewhere at the position.

Good day--

The O's have some holes to fill in their bullpen as well as SP. Have there been any talks about acquiring a closer? Starter? Relief help?
From an organizational perspective, whom have they targeted and/or contacted, if any?

I would possibly kick the tires on Fuentes, maybe--if he is available.

Thanks

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Jeff Z's reply: They are talking to Koji and I think if he resigns, he'll be their closer. They also have some interest in some of the setujp men on the market, guys like Balfour and Crain. As for starter, I think they'll kick the tires on the second tier of guys below Cliff Lee, guys like De la Rosa, Pavano, Garland. But I think they are looking to get a middle of the rotation guy in a trade or on a low-risk deal.

Uehara demonstrated he is a highly effective closer. Losing him for a draft pick only makes sense if you're planning ANOTHER growing pains type of season and if that is the case, why go after a big bat now?

If the front office is going into 2011 to win, they need to sign Koji.

Otherwise, we'll know early on into this off season if Andy and Co. are serious or not.

Yeah lets dump Rowell. Then we can go back and try and sign him as a savior in a couple years like we're trying to do today with Jason Werth.

Geeeez.....

I'm not advocating protection for Rowell, but if they don't protect him, don't they risk losing him to another team's AA or AAA affiliate in the minor-league draft?

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Jeff Z's reply: No, just big league team.

Jeff -- I think the Orioles at bare minimum need to give Koji an option for a second year; he just too good to give away.

The O's need to think like the successful clubs and I'm willing to bet that any of those with an interest in Koji wouldn't think twice about giving him a two-year deal. If the O's really want him back as closer, they'd do well not to insult him with a lowball offer.

[BTW, My apologies for addressing you as "Dan" the last time I posted. He'd been putting up so much of late that I just assumed it was another of his columns.]

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Jeff Z's reply: Yeah, I meant two guaranteed years. I would think there will be some sort of second-year option involved.

Sad about Billy Rowell...He certainly looked good at the beginning. I cannot figure out what he is doing wrong. I did have a chance to meet him and he is not a bad guy. I am sure that all of this bothers him more than it does the rest of us.

The Orioles should offer Uehara exactly the same deal they gave him two years ago.
What's with all the damned penny-pinching ?
He's shown that when used properly, he is a force out of the bullpen.
SIGN HIM NOW and quit the stupid posturing and haggling.

Just don't see the Orioles landing anybody significant from free agency although I'd love for them to get Victor Martinez. They'd have to overpay for him though-offer 4-year deal.

With Tillman, Pie, D. Hernandez, possibly people like Mahoney, Patton and Vanderhurk possibly available, I think best shot is in a trade.

For all those who say give up on Billy Rowell. Let me remind you those that do not remember history are condemened to repeat it. The Orioles gave up on on Jayson Werth at age 21 after he hit .228 at Bowie with 5 HR and 26 RBI. People grow at different rates. It doesn't really "cost" anything to keep him. He should stay. Don't let him leave and become another Jayson Werth.

Hey Jeff.. Best SUN column going for sure.. Anyways do you see us going after LaRoche?? Chances of Konerko signing here?? Thanks

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Jeff Z's reply: Thanks for the kind words. Steve. O's have some interest in LaRoche. I don't think he is one of their top three choices to fill the first base vacancy but he is on their list and he may be the most obtainable for them. As for Konerko, no, I'd be shocked if he'd sign here. He is close friends with Brian Roberts, but beyond that ... His close relationship to White Sox owner Reinsdorf is well documented. There has also been some talk about him wanting to play closer to his Arizona home.

Full speed ahead once again. Admiral MacFail leading us to another last place finish in the AL East for 2011.

Jeff...does Andy (or Angelos, for that matter) not realize how they make themselves look to fans and players around the league?

I'm not commenting on anyone specific, but in general with FAs, it seems we are always hearing about how a player wants more than the O's feel he's worth...they like a guy but they don't want to overpay for his services...etc, etc, etc.

Do they not realize that most teams have to overpay for a FA sometimes if they want to outbid another team? And do they not realize they are not most teams, and therefore will have to overpay EVEN MORE to get someone to come to Baltimore? This is why we keep losing...the team is too afraid of bad signings (even though Andy's quite content to overpay and waste money for guys like Atkins and Gonzalez).

They need to isolate one or two guys they really want this winter and offer them the moon in hopes that they come to Baltimore. It's not just about numbers anymore...it's about bringing fans back and building up the organizations credibility with players and FAs down the road. Why does it seem the O's ownership and front office STILL does not grasp that?

Andy McFAIL's wish list in Free Agency... 1b-Ryan Garko, Casey Kotchman,Derrek Lee, Mike Lamb, Mike Jacobs, Robb Quinlan, and Mike Sweeney. SS - Juan Castro and Adam Everett. Those are the names McFAIL would like to sign to really cement our place in last place. Camden Yards used to be full of fans , but not anymore.

I really think the O"s have to trade for three players that would give our team a chance in the furture they are upton from d"backs he would complete our out field,also prince fielder at first young and everything we need at firstbase,and aleixes rameriz from the white sox everything we need at short.Sign wiggy back to play third just think of that lineup wiggy did go to allstar game they have to bring him back if they don"t other players will look at that as disloyal.the moves would bring us a top of line starter to the rotation.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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