Day Three in Dallas

DALLAS - For me, this feels like the final day of the Winter Meetings. From a workload and stress standpoint, tomorrow is a breeze compared to the others. Executives, scouts, agents and reporters bail after the Rule 5 draft, which is held in the morning.

Today is expected to be busy for a lot of teams, including the Orioles, who could make a trade and perhaps announce their coaching staff for next season. We might have our first Scott Boras sighting, which is like the circus coming to town, but without the elephants.

I received confirmation from the Orioles late last night - and I mean late - that the Red Sox are letting DeMarlo Hale out of his contract, which means he'll serve as manager Buck Showalter's third base coach. We knew it was coming. It's just nice to get it out of the way.

The loudest buzz at the Hilton Anatole naturally involves Albert Pujols, and how the Marlins are spending money like a drunk buying drinks for everyone at the bar. Prince Fielder's destination seems boring by comparison, at least for the moment.

The Orioles continue to imply that they're not serious players for Fielder, and that their resources are more wisely directed at the pitching staff. But fans in Baltimore might want to pay close attention to where Fielder eventually settles.

The Mariners are interested in Fielder, and their chances of signing him improve if the market softens like his midsection. If he's the first baseman, Justin Smoak figures to become available. And if Smoak becomes available, the Orioles figure to be interested, since they've liked him all along.

The Orioles took pitcher Brian Matusz in the 2008 draft, seven picks before Smoak flew off the board. There were rumblings that they wanted to trade for him before the Rangers sent him to Seattle.

One Seattle reporter suggested that the Mariners would take Mark Reynolds as part of a trade for Smoak, with the idea of starting him at third base.

As an added bonus, Smoak would be reunited with close friend Matt Wieters. They both hail from Goose Creek, S.C.

It's all speculation, of course. It might be a Smoak screen (see what I did there?)

Fielder could end up somewhere else. The Orioles could end up passing on Smoak, who has 28 homers and 103 RBIs in 223 major league games spread over two seasons. It's just food for thought.

A few people have made the connection already. I just wanted to join in and get today's discussion rolling before making my first trip through the lobbies here.

I'm still searching for a breakfast sandwich after two mornings of yogurt parfaits and banana nut bread.

More food for thought.

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