Left-handed relief a priority for Orioles

As the Orioles monitor the free agent market and check on potential trade partners, they’re placing heavy emphasis on finding a left-hander reliever this winter. It’s their primary focus at the moment.

This could be viewed as a sign that they’re not optimistic about re-signing Andrew Miller, a free agent with numerous suitors who may command a four-year deal for closer-type money.

The projected bullpen next season includes left-handers Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland. Britton will return as closer, but the Orioles could make another attempt to move McFarland into Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation.

Andrew-Miller-White-Far.jpgAs for Matusz, he’s arbitration-eligible again and projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $2.7 million next season - not much of a bump from the $2.4 million he made in 2014. He can’t become a free agent until the conclusion of the 2016 season.

The Orioles claimed left-handed reliever Patrick McCoy, 26, off waivers from the Tigers last week, but he has options remaining and could begin the 2015 season in Norfolk’s bullpen. He appeared in 14 games as a rookie this season and allowed six runs and 21 hits in 14 innings, with 13 walks and 11 strikeouts.

Here’s the list of free agent left-handed relievers from MLBTradeRumors.com. Check it out and then figure out which teams might be willing to part with one in a trade:

Joe Beimel (38)
Craig Breslow (34)
Sean Burnett (32)
Phil Coke (32)
Neal Cotts (35)
Scott Downs (39)
Zach Duke (32)
Tom Gorzelanny (32)
Andrew Miller (30)
Franklin Morales (29)
Josh Outman (30)
Joe Thatcher (33)

Also, while the Orioles are open to adding a starter, they’re comfortable enough with their depth to possibly use it to make a trade and strengthen another area on the club.

The Orioles signed veteran left-hander Johan Santana on March 4 and were prepared to recall him in June before he tore his left Achilles tendon while retrieving a batted ball during an extended spring training game. Santana hasn’t retired and reportedly wants to work out for teams in January.

I’m told that the Orioles will watch Santana throw and will at least consider signing him again if he impresses.

OK, about last night ...

While plenty of Orioles fans were upset that Nelson Cruz didn’t win a Silver Slugger Award after leading the majors in home runs, I was more surprised by Adam Jones’ omission among the outfielders.

Then, I reviewed the numbers.

Jones batted .281/.311/.469 with 30 doubles, two triples, 29 home runs and 96 RBIs in 159 games. The Indians’ Michael Brantley, who joined the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista among American League winners, batted .327/.385/.506 with 45 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs and 97 RBIs in 156 games.

ALCS-Adam-Jones-homer.jpgJones will have to settle for his fourth All-Star berth, his fourth Gold Glove and that memorable first trip to the American League Championship Series.

Jones will be busy this weekend, beginning with a dedication ceremony on Saturday at the Westport Boys and Girls Club in Baltimore.

Jones and the Orioles Charitable Foundation made a contribution of nearly $45,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Baltimore earlier this year to completely remodel the Teen Center at the B&CG, Westport/Winans Homes Center. The new center will be completely refurnished, painted and have all new carpet installed, along with a new television and gaming system.

The financial contribution also will be used to purchase 12 new computers for the Westport/Winans Club’s Technology Center.

On Sunday, Jones is hosting his second annual #StayHungry #PurpleTailgate benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore prior to the Ravens-Titans game. Tickets are still available (click on the link). Last year’s event sold out and raised more than $10,000.

The tailgate runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon and includes food from a bunch of local establishments, including The Abbey Burger Bistro, Blue Agave, Mother’s Grille, Jimmy’s Famous Seafood and Delia Foley’s. Entertainment will be provided by Skies in Chaos and DJ Buddha.

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