The rumor mill is churning as hot stove season heats up

In recent days, we've seen reports that the Orioles discussed a J.J. Hardy trade with the St. Louis Cardinals and that they are willing to discuss a deal for Matt Wieters.

What is going on here? Aren't these two of their best players and players they should look to keep, not trade?

As always, such reports bring an avalanche of reaction around Birdland. If nothing else, I guess it shows the fans are hungry to talk baseball and for some, the hot stove season is about as much fun as the regular season.

In one respect, should a report that the Orioles are, "willing to listen" on Wieters be that surprising? Shouldn't the Orioles be "willing to listen" on any of their players?

If for no other reason, listening to a potential trade proposal helps the Orioles gauge both the level of interest in such a player and the value of that player. These are helpful to know and while they must already have a pretty good handle on it, it doesn't hurt to hear what other teams think.

Wieters' name could come up in trade discussions for several reasons. Now that he is two years away from free agency, it makes some sense for the O's to at least be open to moving him if they can't sign him long term. And what are the chances that this club could lock up both Wieters and Chris Davis with long-term deals? Not to mention both are represented by Scott Boras. They already have Adam Jones locked up and it may not be long before we hear they are talking with Manny Machado.

It seems unlikely for everyone to get a long-term deal and something has to give. Maybe the club thinks it could be at the catcher position.

Maybe Wieters' name coming up is by design and just the club's way of letting the Wieters camp know they'd like to keep him long-term, but they won't let Wieters and Boras call all the shots.

This could be a more interesting winter than we thought a few weeks ago. We know the rumors will keep coming, and with this club they always seem to.

Where there is smoke, is there fire? A trade of Hardy or Wieters would surprise, but not shock me. I'm still expecting them to be Orioles on opening day.

But we saw in July that Dan Duquette is not afraid to make moves. The hot stove season heated up fast. It certainly doesn't look like it will be boring.

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