Orioles haven’t been bullish on free agent market

I’m driving back to Sykesville this morning, which again opens up the possibility that the Orioles will make a roster move while I’m in Easton or on the Bay Bridge.

It’s easier to pull over in Easton.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally slow in baseball, but I do have a track record.

The Orioles could still sign a free agent or two before spring training, but they don’t exactly hit the market with gusto every winter. Consider my projected lineup that I posted a few days ago. How many players were signed as free agents?

Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
J.J. Hardy SS
David Lough LF
Nolan Reimold/Henry Urrutia DH
Ryan Flaherty 2B

Markakis, Machado, Wieters and Reimold were chosen in the First-Year Player Draft. Flaherty was a Rule 5 pick. Davis, Jones, Hardy and Lough were acquired in trades. The Orioles list Urrutia as a non-drafted free agent.

Jemile Weeks, Steve Clevenger and Steve Pearce were acquired in trades. Michael Almanzar is a Rule 5 pick.

Check the rotation. Chris Tillman and Bud Norris were obtained in trades. Wei-Yin Chen is listed as a major league free agent, but he was an international signing. Miguel Gonzalez was a minor league free agent.

Fifth-starter candidates include Zach Britton (draft), Kevin Gausman (draft), Steve Johnson (trade), T.J. McFarland (Rule 5) and Josh Stinson (waivers).

Tommy Hunter, the leading in-house candidate to close, was acquired in a trade. Darren O’Day was a waiver claim. Brian Matusz was a first-round draft pick. Troy Patton was acquired in a trade.

Ryan Webb signed as a free agent, making him the Orioles’ version of a unicorn.

Is there another team in baseball with fewer major league free agents on the roster?

The Orioles did reach agreement with closer Grant Balfour on a two-year, $15 million deal, but you know the rest.

The Orioles’ season summary guide includes a section on how the 2013 team was built. It includes every player who appeared on the 25-man roster.

The Orioles used 54 players, tying the 1955 team for the most in club history. Only four of them are listed as major league free agents - Chen, Wilson Betemit, Luis Ayala and Nate McLouth. Betemit didn’t play until Aug. 27 and appeared in only six games, and Ayala was traded on April 10.

Twelve players were drafted (in order): Brian Roberts, Jim Johnson, Markakis, Reimold, Britton, Wieters, Jake Arrieta, Matusz, Xavier Avery, LJ Hoes, Machado and Gausman.

Seven were minor league free agents: Gonzalez, Jason Pridie, Travis Ishikawa, Chris Dickerson, Jair Jurrjens, Freddy Garcia and Dan Johnson.

Twenty were acquired in trades: Patton, Jones, Tillman, Steve Johnson, Hardy, Davis, Hunter, Taylor Teagarden, Jason Hammel, Mike Belfiore, Pearce, Danny Valencia, Yamaico Navarro, Jairo Asencio, Chris Snyder, Clevenger, Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez, Norris and Michael Morse.

Six were waiver claims: Pedro Strop, O’Day, Luis Exposito, Alexi Casilla, Stinson and Alex Burnett.

Two were Rule 5 picks: Flaherty and McFarland.

Three were non-drafted free agents: Zach Clark, Jonathan Schoop and Urrutia.

I totally forgot that Exposito was placed on the 25-man roster. He came up for a day, was optioned and later outrighted.

And now, per a Twitter request, my mother’s bleu cheese dressing recipe. You’ll thank me later:

2/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 shallot finally chopped
1 minced garlic clove
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
fresh ground pepper to taste

Put onion and garlic in small food processor and pulse until very fine. Add all other ingredients. Save a little of the cheese. Pulse and mix for 2-3 minutes. Fold in rest of the cheese. Add more cheese at the end for chunks. Chill.

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