I really want to pass along news that the Orioles are on the verge of a big signing or trade, just to give you a lift before Thanksgiving, but I don't have any indication that it's true.
Would you settle for a little white lie?
The Orioles are still courting outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to this report in Primera Hora, a newspaper in Puerto Rico (translation needed). The Reds reportedly have joined the fray, but the Yankees remain the frontrunner.
Meanwhile, the possibilities at second base will include Ivan De Jesus Jr. I've heard that the Orioles are close to an agreement with him on a minor league contract.
An official signing might not come until after the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 12 to avoid the possibility that another team claims him. Otherwise, the Orioles would have to put him on the 40-man roster.
As a point of reference, the Orioles signed infielder Chris Gomez as a free agent on Dec. 8, 2004 and lost him to the Phillies on Dec. 13 in the Rule 5 draft. The Orioles purchased him a week later, with the Phillies showing some compassion in the process.
De Jesus will receive an invitation to spring training, where he can join Ryan Flaherty and newly signed Cord Phelps in the competition for a starting job. I've stated previously that I expect the Orioles to re-sign Brian Roberts, which naturally would tilt the odds considerably in his favor.
De Jesus batted .319/.380/.457 with 27 doubles, three triples, three homers and 32 RBIs in 103 games with Triple-A Indianapolis, the Pirates' top affiliate. He's currently playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League, batting .333/.457/.394 with two doubles, a triple and six RBIs in 19 games.
Triple-A Norfolk coach Jose Hernandez is coaching another team in Puerto Rico and has watched De Jesus play. He's probably given his input.
De Jesus appeared in 48 major league games with the Dodgers and Red Sox during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, batting .205/.253/.247. He also can play shortstop and third base, and has played three minor league games in the outfield.
The Dodgers selected De Jesus in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He was sent to the Red Sox as part of the monster deal on Aug. 25, 2012 that included Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and James Loney.
The Red Sox traded De Jesus to the Pirates on Dec. 26, 2012 in the Joel Hanrahan deal.
De Jesus' father was a major league shortstop for 15 seasons. The Orioles owe him a favor after that costly error in Game 3 of the 1983 World Series.
Anyone remember the Dan Ford ground ball with two outs in the seventh inning that De Jesus booted, allowing Benny Ayala to score the go-ahead run? Sure you do.
Not sure if it's a sensitive topic in the De Jesus family, but I may find out in spring training.