NASHVILLE, Tenn. - I see a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not the illuminated 500-foot Christmas tree in the middle of this monstrosity of a hotel.
The Winter Meetings will officially end after the Rule 5 draft that begins at 9 a.m. Central time. There’s never a buzz over these drafts. The only thing more boring is the minor league phase that follows.
I expect the Orioles to make a selection, since they’ve indicated that they will be “active.” I just don’t know where they can stash a player all season. They did it this year with Ryan Flaherty, but the roster may not be able to hold another Rule 5 guy.
It would basically amount to a $25,000 tryout.
For fans who are panicked and infuriated over the lack of acquisitions here, please be advised that it’s only Dec. 6. Relax, people. Opening day is four months away.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette gave me a one-word answer last night when I asked whether he’s still in the market for a power bat for first base or as the designated hitter. “Yes.”
Conor Jackson isn’t the solution. He’s organizational depth. He’s probably the Triple-A Norfolk first baseman. That’s fine. And if he blows up in spring training, he’s quite a find.
Few people paid attention to Nate McLouth after the Orioles signed him, and look what happened.
McLouth has agreed to terms on a one-year deal, which was a high priority for the Orioles. Duquette met with lots of teams and agents. He brought in another batch of minor league free agents, and he had plenty to choose from because Baltimore is now viewed as a desirable landing spot. The Orioles tapped into the European market. They were much busier than it may appear on the transactions page.
I don’t know which player will be plugged into the middle of the lineup, but we’ve been able to eliminate a few. Looking back now, it seems foolish that Billy Butler was viewed as one of the biggest trade chips of these meetings, since the Royals are showing no desire to move him. The Orioles never were truly in on Josh Hamilton, but it’s nice to get confirmation in Nashville. Build a rumor, tear down a rumor.
The Orioles don’t seem particularly interested in Justin Morneau after the Twins kicked the tires on them. Weird to be on the other end of it. They don’t want to hand out a big contract to 33-year-old Adam LaRoche, who (spoiler alert) is going to re-sign with the Nationals. And we had fun with Nick Swisher for one day. The Orioles met with his representatives once and decided to pass.
As much as Orioles fans seem to detest him, the club could do a lot worse than putting Swisher at first base. Check those stats again. He hits home runs, he gets on base and he leaves marks from pounding his chest after ever checked swing.
The Nats’ Michael Morse makes sense to me, but I heard last night that the Orioles still aren’t in serious pursuit. Their interest could intensify later, but there’s nothing hot right now.
The Orioles also remain in the market for a veteran starting pitcher, but talks with Joe Saunders are moving slowly. Forget Zack Greinke. He never was in play and he’s probably headed to Texas or Los Angeles.
His wife was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and wants to go back there. Any bets on who gets their way?
Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t decided on a third base coach. So much for making an announcement at these meetings. It may not even happen by the weekend. The list shrinks, then it grows.
Yes, there’s shrinkage.
Stay tuned for news from the Rule 5 draft. Try to control your breathing.