Prince Fielder is off the board, and we're left to ponder how much the Orioles were really in on him. Or we can just move on and never again speak his name.
I felt a sense of relief yesterday after news broke that Fielder had agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, who get to wear the 2012 label of "Scott Boras' Mystery Team." Not because, as a few readers suggested, I didn't want the Orioles to sign him. Preposterous. Why would I root against a feared left-handed power hitter in the middle of the lineup who would have served as a set of jumper cables for a dormant Camden Yards?
I just wanted a resolution. I just wanted Fielder to choose a team. And if he had gone to the Nationals, I was braced for the backlash that would have kept me censoring comments for the next eight months. Life is easier with Fielder in Detroit.
I knew he wasn't going to sign with the Orioles unless the market collapsed, and I knew the market wasn't going to collapse. But I was hesitant to completely dismiss the possibility in blog print after Vladimir Guerrero ended up in Baltimore.
Not that Guerrero was in the same demand, but still ...
At least we're now spared the ridiculous rumors and speculation, and the amateurish tweets, that were attached to Fielder's name. And once again, it's worth noting that you're not a reporter simply because you have numbers stored in your phone or a credential that grants you access inside a clubhouse or locker room. To claim otherwise is insulting to those of us who actually worked toward a degree in journalism and sought internships and covered preps and small colleges and basically paid our dues.
Nowadays, all you need is a face, Internet access and an iPhone.
Fielder is gone, and so is reliever Francisco Cordero, who agreed to terms with the Blue Jays on a one-year, $4.5 million contract. The Orioles were definitely in on Cordero, and as I noted yesterday morning, they were the only team among the four finalists that could guarantee him the chance to close. Apparently, he'd rather work in a set-up role in Toronto. Ouch.
Does this mean that Jim Johnson is going into spring training as the closer? I'm perfectly fine with that arrangement. I don't see the need for a last-place team to spend big on another ninth-inning specialist. Been there, done that.
Koji Uehara reportedly rejected a trade to the Blue Jays yesterday by exercising the limited no-trade clause in his contract. He really wants to come back to Baltimore, where his family still lives, and the Orioles and Rangers talked during the Winter Meetings. However, the Rangers apparently are asking for a lot in return after giving up Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to acquire him at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Uehara wouldn't unseat Johnson. He'd be used as the eighth-inning guy.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette will attempt to add depth to the bullpen despite an overflow of candidates. Poor Pedro Strop could be ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk after allowing one run in 12 1/3 innings last season.
Duquette hasn't dismissed the possibility of acquiring another starter. Edwin Jackson, a Scott Boras client, remains on the market, but the Orioles won't fork over the amount of money that he's seeking. Not for an "erratic" pitcher, as one person in the organization described him. They want him, but not at any price.
Luis Ayala is still out there, and the Orioles and Angels reportedly are finalists to sign him.
Switching topics, former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles will report to Ed Smith Stadium next month and serve as an instructor at spring training. It's good to have him back in the organization.
NOTE: The Orioles just announced that they avoided arbitration with Robert Andino, reaching agreement on a one-year deal. That leaves Brad Bergesen, Jeremy Guthrie and Adam Jones as the only arbitration-eligible players without a contract.
Andino sought $1.6 million and the Orioles countered at $1 million. You can be sure they split the difference and Andino settled for $1.3 million.