Among the topics O's president Andy MacPhail addressed tonight in a meeting with reporters here at the winter meetings, is the prospect of the O's offering a big contract to a free agent.
I asked him if considering the 13 consecutive losing seasons, aren't the O's in a position now where they simply have to overpay to get a top talent, even if that contract seems to not make much economic sense?
"There comes a time when you do, but I think it's the guy that will get you over the hump in a meaningful way, not get you over .500. But over the hump in what you would project is potentially post-season," MacPhail said.
The follow up was, are you saying that time is not now for the O's?
"I remind you that it wasn't that long ago that we were out 140 million on Teixeira, but we thought it was the right guy at the right position, at the right price and with the right risk. But we are not adverse to taking that risk. You just have to be careful that when you do it, it's the right guy and right circumstance," he said.
Here is his take on why the O's did not offer arbitration to pitcher Koji Uehara.
"Well, those rules are hard to have people understand. It's the same reason the Yankees didn't offer on Jeter and Rivera and Wood, but they offer on Vasquez. It's not always reflective of the reasons that you think. It's really a function of being able to structure the contract in such a way that it protects us in the event there are durability issues going forward."
Are the O's confident Koji will return?
"We're still talking so we're hopeful we'll be able to bring him back. He did a nice job for us, we just want to do something that protects him and protects us.
"Protects him in the event that he continues to pitch the way he did in the last couple of months. Protects us in the event he is as unavailable to us as he was the past two years we had him.
"Our end game has always been to try and resign him. If our desire was not to have him back and you just wanted to get out with a draft pick, then you would have been weighing the value of the draft pick against the potential that he accepts arbitration and then you have that deal," MacPhail said.
It is possible that the O's tried to cut, I guess you might call it "a side deal" with Koji, to offer him arbitration but have him turn that down, but MacPhail would not comment on the record as to whether that was the case.
A Japanese reporter told MacPhail that Koji's agent told a reporter that he has talked to six teams about Uehara. He asked MacPhail if the O's would consider a two-year deal for him?
"We would look into, what we are trying to do is protect ourselves in the event that he is not on the field. If he is on the field, we are happy with the performance. Anything that makes sense for us that stands that scrutiny, we would consider."
MacPhail was asked if he is kind of resigned to the fact that the Orioles may have to part with some of their young pitching in a trade?
"Never my first choice," he said.
But it may have to happen?
"If we think it makes sense for us at the end of the day. That is why you can't have enough young pitching."