The Orioles didn't re-sign outfielder Nate McLouth until the winter meetings, reaching agreement on a one-year, $2 million contract. What approach should they take with him following the 2013 season?
Should they wait that long?
I spoke with someone in the organization recently who thinks the front office should begin extension talks with McLouth's representative. Don't let him test the market again.
Does that idea appeal to McLouth?
"Of course I'd be open to it, but it hasn't really even crossed my mind, to be honest with you," he said during the last homestand. "It just hasn't crossed my mind."
McLouth, 31, set the bar low last winter. There must be a temptation to go back on the market and attempt to reel in a multi-year deal with a significant raise.
"That's a possibility, but you never know," he said. "I swear I haven't thought of either scenario and it hasn't even crossed my mind yet, because there's obviously bigger and better things going on right now."
The Orioles resuscitated McLouth's career by signing him to a minor league deal on June 5, 2012, five days after the Pirates released him. Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson got McLouth back on track offensively by advising him to simply be himself.
McLouth will begin the second half with a .275/.347/.399 line in 85 games, with 19 doubles, six homers, 16 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts.
"I feel like I'm in a good spot and I signed a one-year contract and we'll see what happens after this year," he said.
The Orioles must decide whether Henry Urrutia could be their regular left fielder next season or serve primarily as a left-handed hitting designated hitter. He's got to be promoted to the majors first. And does LJ Hoes project as more than an extra outfielder?
McLouth gives the team plus-defense in left and speed atop the order. He's another favorite of manager Buck Showalter, who pushed hard to get McLouth to re-sign in December.
"This is a desirable destination for free agents. It really is," McLouth said. "It's a great ballpark. Just a great team to play for. Besides being a good team now, it's a good feeling you get around here."
Note: Later today, we should learn the fate of pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who was designated for assignment on July 12 when the Orioles selected the contract of reliever Jairo Asencio.
The Orioles could trade Jurrjens. He could be claimed off waivers. He could be outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Just waiting to find out.