It’s hard to know what executive vice president Dan Duquette has hidden up his sleeve, and there’s no point in ordering a strip search. This isn’t the security checkpoint at BWI Airport.
No one knew that Wilson Betemit was tucked up that sleeve, but he’ll be introduced to the Camden Yards crowd on opening day. Taylor Teagarden’s name didn’t come up among backup catching options until the day that the trade with the Rangers was finalized. The lobby buzz at the Winter Meetings never included Dana Eveland, the left-hander who came to the Orioles on the final day in a trade with the Dodgers.
Duquette wants to add another late-inning reliever and interest remains in starter Edwin Jackson, but there’s another item on his shopping list. He’s also looking for another hitter, and I’ve heard that the Orioles have discussed free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman.
Kotchman, who turns 29 on Feb. 22, settled for a minor league deal with the Rays last winter, but he joined them after Manny Ramirez’s abrupt “retirement” and hit .306 in 500 at-bats - 38 points above his career average. He only produced 10 home runs, but he’s never hit more than 14 in a single season during his eight-year major league career.
Kotchman would be a significant defensive upgrade. His .998 fielding percentage ranks as the best among first basemen. However, he’s played for five teams since breaking into the majors in 2004, and four since 2009. There are no assurances that his average will approach the one he posted with Tampa Bay. He couldn’t land a major league deal last winter and he’s still on the market now.
By signing Kotchman, the Orioles could make Chris Davis the primary designated hitter and Betemit more of a utility player and part-time DH. They’d still need a leadoff hitter and they’d have to figure out who bats fourth. He wouldn’t solve all of their needs.
I’m not predicting that Kotchman winds up in Baltimore, but he could be another player up Duquette’s sleeve.
I’d hate to be Duquette’s tailor.