As the Winter Meetings approach ...

Exactly one week from today will be the second official day of baseball's Winter Meetings, which are being held in Nashville. I'll get my cardio workout from chasing false rumors and power-walking through the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, which I'm told is roughly the length of 72,000 football fields.

Anyone want to trade places with me? I'm taking offers.

Last year's meetings in Dallas yielded a Dana Eveland trade and Ryan Flaherty claim in the Rule 5 draft. I still tingle over the memory.

Fans were livid that executive vice president Dan Duquette didn't pull off a mega-deal or bring home a big-ticket free agent. I seem to recall writing up the Eveland trade while the Angels were announcing that they signed Albert Pujols. Well, the Orioles made the playoffs and the Angels didn't, so who's laughing now?

Eveland went 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA in 14 games (two starts) with the Orioles, and was designated for assignment a handful of times. He kept accepting the outright assignments rather than forfeit his salary.

The Dodgers acquired pitcher Jarret Martin, who went 4-6 with a 4.65 ERA in 18 starts at two Single-A affiliates, and infielder/outfielder Tyler Henson, who batted .239/.334/.416 with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 87 games at three levels of the system, topping out at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Flaherty stuck with the team all season, a real challenge for a Rule 5 pick, and he contributed a home run in the American League Division Series. He's a candidate to start at second base, be used as a utility player or begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk. For now, he's slated to get regular work at second base with Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. He left the U.S. on Sunday.

The Orioles seem more likely to make a trade next week than sign a free agent. That seems to be Duquette's focus. And the No. 1 priority seems to be obtaining a hitter instead of a No. 1 starter.

Little has changed over the past month. The Orioles need a bat for the middle of their lineup. It can be held by a first baseman, a designated hitter or a left fielder. And to make it happen, they most likely will need to part with some young pitching.

Little has changed in that regard. Teams always inquire about the Orioles' young arms - Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, etc. Steve Johnson apparently is being eyed by a few rival executives.

Dylan Bundy's name keeps coming up, which is pointless. He's not on the table.

I was told that Arrieta drew the most interest at the non-waiver trade deadline, but the Orioles held onto him. They wouldn't be selling high after his demotion from opening day starter to Norfolk starter and Orioles reliever.

Tillman is out of options and his stock has never been higher. Is this the time for the Orioles to move him in the right deal or slot him into the April rotation and, hopefully, be further rewarded for their patience?

Whether the Orioles dip into their growing surplus of pitching to bolster their lineup will likely be the most interesting aspect of the Winter Meetings. And the strongest force that will keep the rumor mill spinning.

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