The lobby buzz on Matusz

SAN DIEGO - The lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt is filling up again for the second official day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

The biggest buzz surrounds free agent pitcher Jon Lester, who reportedly has multiple offers for six years and may have a team willing to give him seven.

The Orioles never were in the running for Lester. They’re not touching the high-priced starters on the market.

While their primary focus has shifted to the outfield, they also are targeting a left-handed reliever. Which makes it interesting that, according to the aforementioned lobby buzz, the Orioles are willing to move Brian Matusz in a trade.

matusz pitch grey sidebar.jpgMatusz is a left-handed reliever, in case you missed the memo.

The Orioles may not be actively shopping Matusz, but clubs are aware that he’s available in the right deal. His value outside the organization rests on whether he’s viewed as a lefty specialist or potential starter - his role coming out of college as the fourth overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Matusz is projected by to earn $2.7 million this season. He’s got one more year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two before free agency following the 2016 season.

Matusz, whose salary rose from $1.6 million to $2.4 million this year, was 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 63 appearances. Left-handers hit .223 against him and right-handers hit .277. The previous year, lefties hit .168 and right-handers hit .302.

The second-half numbers may have gone unnoticed, but Matusz posted a 1.42 ERA in 23 appearances with one home run allowed, four walks and 26 strikeouts over 19 innings.

Closer Zach Britton and multi-purpose reliever T.J. McFarland are the other left-handers in the bullpen. Andrew Miller agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal with the Yankees.

McFarland isn’t assured of beginning the season with the Orioles, who could place him in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation. He made five starts for the Tides last season.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette couldn’t hide his interest yesterday in free agent left-hander Craig Breslow. I’m sure he’s more interested in the 2013 Breslow who posted a 1.81 ERA in 61 appearances with the Red Sox.

Duquette will meet with reporters again today at 3 p.m. PST. Manager Buck Showalter’s media session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

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