Two of the players that must be high on the O's list as possible first baseman for 2011 are Paul Konerko and Carlos Pena.
By now, the O's must have had discussions with both and, according to one report, have offered a deal to Konerko.
The decisions the club would have to make in choosing between those two and others would have a lot to do with money and length of contract.
I cannot see the O's getting Konerko, or having a real chance, without a three or four-year deal. If Adam Dunn thinks he can get a four-year, $60 million deal, Konerko probably thinks the same.
Pena, coming off a year where he hit just .196 with an OPS of .732, is more likely to be had for a one-year deal.
While most fans would probably take Konerko in a heartbeat, especially coming off the year he had in 2010, Andy MacPhail must think about the future of the team two, three and four years down the road.
Pena could cost eight to 10 million for next year, but Konerko might add 12 to 15 million per year to the books in years 2011 through 2014.
Most fans would say who cares, it's not my money.
But did you realize that Nick Markakis' deal pays him 12 million in 2012 and 15 million each in 2013 and 2014, according to the Cots website.
If Konerko makes around the same in 2013 and 2014, that could be $30 million between two players.
Then add on raises over the next few years for young talent the club would seek to retain like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta to name a few.
It is starting to add up fast. Then you want to have funds to pursue players beyond Konerko and funds to sign other free agents two or three years from now when the club might actually contend for something.
It's a big decision. Go with another one-year player (like Pena) or fork over the big bucks now for a guy that will impact your payroll for years (like Konerko)?
Disregarding the money, I'd take Konerko over Pena, even though he is older and doesn't play the same quality defense.
Looking at how it impacts future payrolls, I might have to go for Pena.
In the end, neither player may even want to come here. But if they do have interest in Baltimore, the O's have to weigh the dollars and future impact it will have.
Buy a bat? Sure, I'll take one. But which one and at which price and what does it mean for you in 2012, 2013 and 2014?