It’s opening day ... of the Winter Meetings (with updates)

Will the Orioles be busy at the Winter Meetings in San Diego that begin today? No doubt they will. But will that work and various meetings lead to actual moves? That is what we are waiting to find out.

In recent years, the Orioles have often come away from the Winter Meetings with a Rule 5 pick - some years more than one - but that is usually it. This year the Orioles were busy in the week leading up to the meetings. They acquired five minor league pitchers in separate deals for Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy.

Now we wait to find out if more trades are coming. If the club moved Villar and Bundy, why stop there? Or should they indeed stop there?

“I do think there are different ways of looking at that,” Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said after the Bundy deal. “In one sense, we are in a mode of trading from our major league roster, adding to our minor league compilation, adding to our minor league depth, raising our farm system up, and once you start doing that, it does make sense to continue down that path.

“But we’re not going to alter what we feel are the appropriate levels of return that we might seek for any players remaining on our major league roster. Especially those that are under longer-term commitments with us, whether it be through arbitration or players that are under contract. So we will be careful to seek the right return if we move anyone else, but there’s certainly no guarantee that we’ll be moving anyone else.”

Mancini-Bearded-Rounds-Bases-Black-Home-Sidebar.jpgWhile some fans seem convinced that a Trey Mancini deal is coming, I think the Orioles value him very much, both now and for the future. Could they get a great deal for Mancini they feel they can’t pass up? They could. But I would be surprised if he is traded.

Nationally, free agent right-hander Gerrit Cole could sign during these meetings. The Yankees are reported to be on the verge of making him an offer for seven years at a total contract value of $245 million. That is some opening offer. Cole no doubt will set records with his deal when it’s done. The largest total contract a free agent pitcher ever signed was David Price’s deal at $217 million with Boston. The largest average annual value for a pitcher was the $34.4 million that Zack Greinke got from Arizona. Both Los Angeles teams, the Angels and Dodgers, are expected to push hard for Cole as well.

The Rule 5 draft will end the meetings on Thursday. The Orioles have added 17 players in the last 13 Rule 5 drafts - not that they have kept all those players. The draft in 2005 was the last Rule 5 without a selection by the Orioles.

Of the 17, 11 have played at least very briefly for the Orioles. A couple of those players were selected by the team as Rule 5 picks, but didn’t join the team after that and were later reacquired and then played for Baltimore. Pitcher Alfredo Simon fits that bill. He was the O’s Rule 5 pick in 2006 but was later added as a free agent. Logan Verrett was a Rule 5 pick in 2014 and two years later joined the team after they purchased his contract from the New York Mets.

How active will the O’s be in the coming Rule 5 draft? We took a look at the draft and discussed it here in this entry on Saturday.

Come here often during the Winter Meetings over the next few days. My colleague, Roch Kubatko, is in San Diego. I’ll be checking in here often to answer questions and comment back and forth with readers. I’ll link or note in the text any happenings during each day, especially any that involve the Orioles.

A few updates from today: The Orioles today claimed right-handed pitcher Marcos Diplán off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. He goes on the 40-man roster, which now numbers 38 players. At Double-A last year for both Milwaukee and Minnesota, he posted an ERA of 4.85 and fanned 73 in 68 2/3 innings. He has a minor league option remaining. Click here for more on Diplan.

Former Oriole Adam Jones may be about to sign a multi-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan, per various reports. Jones, 34, was signed by Arizona before the 2019 season to a one-year deal for $3 million. For the D-backs, he hit .260/.313/.414 with 16 homers, 67 RBIs and an OPS of .728, just below the .732 he posted for the 2018 Orioles.

The World Series champion Washington Nationals today reached a huge contract agreement with their own free agent, right-hander Stephen Strasburg. The deal of seven years for $245 million will break records both for total dollars and average annual value for a pitcher. Gerrit Cole could soon break both marks. Strasburg went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA for the Nats and finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Single-A Delmarva’s Chris Bitters today picked up his South Atlantic League General Manager of the Year award in San Diego. Bitters is second from the left in this tweet from the Shorebirds.

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