The pace of the offseason is about to move into a higher gear

Even though a few players have signed in recent days as free agents, the biggest fish remain out there, setting up what could be an active few days next week when baseball’s Winter Meetings get going in Nashville, Tenn.

We figure to hear a lot of rumors - maybe even more than usual - about players like Josh Hamilton and Zach Greinke. The Orioles probably won’t be playing in that neighborhood, but it seems you can’t rule anything right now.

On yesterday’s “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” on MASN, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said at this point, the team is more likely to make a trade rather than acquire someone via free agency. He also indicated that contract talks with Joe Saunders and Nate McLouth were moving at a slow pace.

That doesn’t mean that pace won’t pick up and things can change very quickly in that regard. But as we sit here today, I guess there is a better chance than not that a few key players from last year won’t be here next year. Change always happens in baseball.

I am hopeful that both McLouth and Saunders make it back to the 2013 Orioles. Mark Reynolds, too, for that matter. It now appears very unlikely that the Orioles will offer Reynolds arbitration by tonight’s deadline to do so. Maybe the long list of arbitration-eligible players - a list that includes Jim Johnson, Darren O’Day, Jason Hammel, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters - makes it harder for the club to keep Reynolds at what could be a $9 million arbitration price tag.

I wrote recently that I thought the club should offer Reynolds arbitration and explained why in this post.

The Orioles keep saying they like Reynolds and would like to keep him, but there is a price at which they won’t and they may be at that point now. As I wrote, I thought the club should bring him back even if it had to pay a few more dollars than it was comfortable with for next year.

The offseason for the Birds has been a little slow up to this point. But now that should begin to change. The Winter Meetings usual gets the ball rolling and, even if there are not moves announced in Nashville, we often see a few in the days and weeks that follow.

The pace of the offseason is about to pick up.

Be here next week: Roch and I will be at the Winter Meetings next week, so be sure to check the blogs and Twitter often for all the latest from Nashville. I’ll post some video interviews here as well.

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