Attempting to wrestle possible Orioles rumors

I’m returning later today from a quick trip to New York, which included tickets to the taping of Conan O’Brien’s podcast in Brooklyn and to “Wicked” on Broadway.

You want more fantasy? Read any article that suggests a possible link between the Orioles and free agent Shohei Ohtani.

Stop it. Please.

They don’t need a full-time designated hitter and they won’t hand out the most lucrative contract in baseball history, with some published salary predictions around $500 million.

It’s worse than the Winter Meetings rumors of interest in free-agent starter Carlos Rodón, that the Orioles were “in on” him.

The Yankees signed Rodón to a six-year, $162 million contract. The Orioles signed Kyle Gibson for one year at $10 million.

A house landing on Rodón’s sister would have been more believable than the left-hander agreeing to terms with the Orioles.

Fans want Josh Hader back in the organization, the local kid who turns 30 in April. The Millersville native and Old Mill High graduate who was drafted in the 19th round in 2012 and traded to the Astros a year later for starter Bud Norris.

Norris helped the Orioles reached the American League Championship Series in 2014, but Hader became a five-time All-Star beginning in 2018 with the Brewers.

The division within the organization flared up again at the deadline, with general manager Dan Duquette agreeing to part with Hader over the objections of others who were infatuated with his dramatic increase in velocity and deceptive delivery, and were certain that he’d grow into a dominant reliever.

The Athletic’s Jim Bowden ranks Hader as the No. 8 free agent on the market, while Keith Law places him 24th. Quite the discrepancy. Bowden has Hader getting $67 million over three years and lists the Yankees, Phillies, Padres, Angels and Rangers as the best fits. Law expects Hader to receive four-year offers but said he wouldn’t go more than two for any reliever because their value down the road is too hard to predict.

My prediction is that the Orioles won’t spend that much money on a reliever. And they expect closer Félix Bautista to be on the 2025 Opening Day roster. They might not view the replacement if coming from the outside to require a long-term commitment.

Will the sides talk? There is no downside to communicating. That’s the due diligence part of the job for executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias. And it’s also how “in on” can spring to life in the winter. An executive and agent sit down in a suite and the rumors fly.

These agents have other clients, which can add to the confusion and send media into a reporting frenzy.

Part of the charm of the Winter Meetings.

Elias is seeking a reliever with closer experience rather than just leaning on bullpen depth and the various options. But Hader seems too extreme unless there's a jarring shift in organizational thinking.

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