The Winter Meetings are back to normal after going virtual in 2020 and disappearing in 2021.
Media can storm the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, clog the lobby and wait in long lines for its morning coffee.
I’d expect the largest wave of reporters to arrive later today. Some team executives will wait until Monday morning. And then, it’s on.
The Orioles will be linked to pretty much everyone, based on the vow to be more aggressive this winter and to increase payroll - the lobby buzz will be deafening - but much of that money is set aside for arbitration raises. They’re at the stage of the rebuild to begin spending more in free agency and to inherit heftier contracts, but I’ll repeat that they aren’t in hot pursuit of the big four shortstops. I'll also stand by my earlier take that they aren't being super aggressive with the top-tier starting pitchers, as if primed to break the bank and leave everyone else wounded from lesser bids, but I'll happily pivot if they do.
Checking in with representatives isn't the same thing. That's happening a lot, at every tier, because it's the responsible thing to do. And they obviously like left-hander Carlos Rodón, but so do teams like the Mets and Yankees who live in a different financial neighborhood.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said the Orioles won't go "zero to 60" in one offseason. Rodón would be the equivalent of drag racing, but again, we'll see if anything changes.
They reportedly held a video call Friday with Noah Syndergaard and reached agreement yesterday with Kyle Gibson on a one-year deal pending a physical, evidence that they aren't obsessing over adding a left-hander to the rotation. MLBTradeRumors.com projected that Syndergaard will receive a three-year, $36 million deal.
The fastball velocity is down following his 2020 Tommy John surgery, and the "Thor" nickname might need to be retired, but he could help the rotation.
He just isn't Rodón or Justin Verlander.
The Orioles have been busy with calls and offering sales pitches to targeted upgrades. It may have appeared quiet based on the lack of news until Friday afternoon's Lewin Díaz/Franchy Cordero announcements and the Gibson agreement, but don’t be fooled.
The main event scheduled for tonight is the result of the Hall of Fame Contemporary Era voting. Former Orioles Albert Belle, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff and Dale Murphy on the ballot.
MLB Network will air the announcement beginning at 8 p.m. The good news is that the show won’t stretch for two hours.
Candidates must receive votes on 75 percent of the ballots to earn election.
Palmeiro, Bonds and Clemens get another chance after falling off the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballots due to their association with performance-enhancing drugs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 games in 2005 after testing positive with the Orioles.
Schilling is deemed worthy by some BBWAA voters, borderline by some and unworthy by others based on his political views and offensive social media posts. ESPN fired him in 2016 after he posted an anti-transgender tweet.
Schilling said last year that he wanted to be removed from the BBWAA ballot after falling short by 16 votes, and he referred to the media as “morally bankrupt frauds” in a tweet. The Hall of Fame declined Schilling’s request and he received only 58.6 percent of the votes in his final year of eligibility.
This could get awkward.
The All-MLB team will be announced on Monday, but that’s secondary to the meetings held throughout the day and night.
Baseball’s inaugural draft lottery will be held on Tuesday, with reverse order of the standings no longer determining who picks first through sixth. MLB Network will air the lottery at 8:30 p.m.
The Nationals, Athletics and Pirates have the best odds of claiming the first selection, at 16.5 percent. The Orioles come in at 0.4 percent and will pick 17th if unable to land in the top six.
Brandon Hyde's media session will take place earlier in the day. He could draw a larger crowd after being a finalist for Manager of the Year in the American League.
The Orioles possess the 17th pick in the Rule 5 draft that’s held Wednesday afternoon. They have 37 players on the 40-man and are able to participate.
Will they? Assumptions are based on their past enthusiasm for it. Selections every year from 2006-20. Four pitchers chosen at the last two Winter Meetings.
It’s easiest to stash a reliever, or at least try. It’s harder when you’re trying to contend, with Nestor Cortes Jr. a prime example in 2018.
He didn’t make it through April, but look at him now.
Back in Baltimore, the Orioles aren’t pushing back an outfield fence during the offseason, but work is being done on the field.
The old sod and sand layer has been stripped away. A new four-to-five inch layer of sand is being applied, with the new sod to follow.
The purpose isn’t to attract free-agent groundball pitchers, but you can start that rumor if you want. Just know that I won’t be chasing it.
I’ll have plenty to keep me busy in San Diego.
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