Could the Orioles make a big splash in free agency?

This caught me a bit by surprise. While the Baltimore media generally has been reporting that the Orioles are not likely to make a big dollar free agent signing this winter, ESPN's Buster Olney feels they may do just that and said he is not alone in that opinion.

The article cannot be linked as it is part of ESPN.com's premium content, but Olney cites the Orioles as having money to spend and now more credibility for possible free agents after 93 wins and a playoff appearance.

"They are viewed, among rival executives, as one of the teams most likely to make a big, pricey splash this winter," he wrote.

The Orioles? A big, pricey splash?

I will say that I don't believe anyone outside of some in his inner circle have the real answer as to what Dan Duquette will do this winter. We already know he's aggressive and seems to want to turn any and every stone in the hunt for talent.

I would guess that the O's payroll will go up just due to arbitration cases alone and what will be the price be for retaining Mark Reynolds, if they choose to do that?

I've felt for years that spending on a big contract for a team that wasn't close to winning didn't make much sense. But now they are winning and maybe now they are one player away from being as good as any team in the sport.

That would be the argument for spending big dollars. There are many arguments against, including the chance it could disrupt team chemistry not to mention the fact that lately it seems most teams that sign a player to a big-dollar deal are looking to get out of that contract almost before the ink is dry.

The two free agents that are expected to get the biggest contracts are Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Zach Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young award winner.

Of those two, I could see the O's much more interested in making a run at Greinke. Perhaps getting knocked out of the playoffs this year by a true ace hammered home the point of what having a No. 1 starter can do for a club.

When it comes to pitching though, many teams figure to show interest and the price is always very high. There is always a high level of risk in giving any pitcher a long-term deal of any amount.

The O's make a big splash in free agency? I have my doubts but it will fascinating to see it all play out this winter.

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