The absence of in-person Winter Meetings leaves us with one more burning question during hot stove season:
Does agent Scott Boras make house calls?
It still wouldn’t replicate the circus atmosphere that unfolds in hotel lobbies. Or, in one instance, a hallway with Boras pressed against a gift shop glass window while a nervous security employee attempted to herd the group to a less-congested area.
Good luck with that.
The scene resembled the one that closed “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” with the group-hug shuffling over to a box of tissues. (Look it up if you’re too young.)
Boras most likely would have met the press this afternoon, after word circulated of the time and general location. Like, “That spot outside the workroom below the stairs near the Christmas tree. No, the other tree.”
How else are you supposed to go on stakeout? I usually pack sandwiches, and an empty Gatorade bottle to relieve myself.
But seriously, it’s a clown show without the makeup. Reporters and lurkers trying to inch closer within a suffocating scrum or be reduced to futile attempts to read Boras’ lips.
Someone in the Baltimore media will ask him about Chris Davis because, honestly, he’s usually the only Orioles connection. The team isn’t in the hunt for one of Boras’ big-ticket items.
Reminds me of the same question aimed at the commissioner each year regarding the Orioles hosting an All-Star Game. Also a local baseball tradition. You know the answer - they’re a viable candidate - but that won’t prevent someone from asking.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias may not have a reason to speak with Boras this week or any other leading up to opening day. Depends on whether Boras represents a client who could fit for the Orioles as rotation or bullpen depth or as a starting shortstop. They also could use another catcher.
Elias will connect to other front office personnel and gauge the trade market. Determine the level of interest in some of his players. Sort the chips from the non-chips.
And then probably be done dealing until the summer.
“I wouldn’t say that anything is particularly likely at this point,” Elias stated yesterday during his Zoom conference call, “but we’re certainly open to it and looking at it.”
José Iglesias is already gone (and feelin’ strong, per The Eagles). He seemed more like a trade deadline chip, but Elias reacted to the Angels needing a shortstop to replace Andrelton Simmons.
Elias traded away relievers Richard Bleier, Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro during the season, eliminating them from winter discussions. Renato Núñez was designated for assignment and granted his release as the Orioles were preparing to set their 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft.
Alex Cobb is a bit easier to move in the final year of his contract, though he has a limited no-trade clause. The Orioles have expressed a willingness in the past to absorb some of the money. But Elias apparently wants to wait until the summer while hoping that Cobb is healthy and closer to the Tampa Bay version that hasn’t materialized in Baltimore except in spurts.
Cobb was solid in his last two starts in 2020, holding the Rays to two runs over six innings and the Red Sox to one run over seven to lower his ERA from 5.03 to 4.30. It also marked the only time that Cobb didn’t allow a home run in back-to-back outings.
The veteran also was strong in his first four starts, posting a 2.61 ERA with two earned runs or fewer allowed in each appearance. Opponents batted .175.
Trade candidates are categorized at least two ways. There’s the group that’s approaching free agency and possessing salaries that the team would like to shed, and the group that remains under control for a few more years but perhaps is projected to reach free agency and cash in before the team is ready to contend.
Santander is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, with MLBTradeRumors.com projecting a raise to $1.7 million. It makes sense to hold onto him as an important piece of the rebuild. It also makes sense to check whether the return right now, with Santander’s value higher following his selection as Most Valuable Oriole and Gold Glove finalist, would be multiple prospects in exchange for a player who’s becoming more expensive and could be set to leave when the team is ready to vie for a postseason berth.
It would help if we had an exact timetable for contention, but one doesn’t exist.
Elias praised the group of outfielders who are going to report to spring training and insisted that there are ways to create room for them. This isn’t an issue.
He rattled off the names and said, “Honest to gosh, I might have forgotten somebody.”
The peeling away of veterans hasn’t left many other trade candidates. Maybe Pedro Severino for a team wanting an experienced catcher who just signed for $1.8 million.
“I think everyone who follows baseball understands that when someone is approaching the end of their contract, like Iggy, one year left, for a rebuilding club that’s a much different calculus than when we have young players that are two years into their career, three years into their career and have the opportunity to be here when we turn the corner and make it back to the playoffs,” Elias said.
“We’re going to take that with a lot of caution and it’s really going to be a high bar for us to clear if we were to entertain trading somebody like that.”