Five Orioles predictions for the Winter Meetings

Five Orioles predictions for the Winter Meetings
December 2, 2012, 11:30 am
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The Winter Meetings begin Monday in Nashville, Tenn. CSNBaltimore.com will be there. It will be four days of lots of talk, countless rumors, one or more of which may turn out to be fact, and at least some action.

Here are five predictions about what will happen for the Orioles at the winter meetings.

1) The Orioles will make a trade

The Orioles haven’t made many big trades in recent years at the Winter Meetings. This time, it will be different.

With Mark Reynolds presumably gone, there will be an effort to replace, whether at first base or as the designated hitter. The Kansas City Royals have  a lot of young talent which hasn’t gelled and the Orioles have been linked with Billy Butler for some time.

Even though Butler is a one-dimensional player, a true DH, something Buck Showalter wanted to avoid, plugging him into the lineup would allow Chris Davis to play first and account for two positions.

Butler’s averages are 20 home runs, 91 RBIs and he bats .300. He is also very durable. He’s only missed 11 games in the last four years.

He has two years remaining on his contract. The two years at $8 million each are probably less than they would have had to give Reynolds. (He also has a $12.5 million option for 2015.)

The Royals would love some young pitching. Perhaps Jake Arrieta and/or Zach Britton could rejoin Jeremy Guthrie in Kansas City.

2) The Orioles will be “in” on some big name free agent

Last summer, there was a pre-trade deadline report that the Orioles expressed interest in Zack Greinke. Over the past few weeks, there was chatter they were interested in Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton is far too pricey for them, So is Greinke, but the Orioles will probably concentrate on beefing up the lineup.

Nine years ago, the Orioles signed a big name free agent, Miguel Tejada, but they haven’t signed a major name since.

It would be a surprise if the Orioles left Nashville on Thursday with Hamilton in their lineup.

3) The Orioles will not sign any free agent this week

So far this off-season, Dan Duquette has been busy adding at the margins. The team’s additions, Alexi Casilla, Trayvon Robinson, Danny Valencia and Yamaico Navarro, haven’t been headline grabbers.

While some players who were non-tendered on Friday may interest the Orioles, expect the team to look at trades before free agents.

Jair Jurrjens was not offered a contract by Atlanta. In the past five years, Jurrjens has won 14 games once and 13 twice.

There will be a lot of competition for the 26-year-old Curacao native.  He made $5.5 million last year, and even though he was 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA in 11 starts, Jurrjens should get lots of interest.

Another name that’s getting some play is Nate Schierholtz, a 28-year-old outfielder the Phillies let go. Schierholtz’s problem is that he plays right field, and the Orioles have an opening in left. He’s played just eight games in left field.

4) The Orioles will take a player in the Rule 5 draft

The Rule 5 draft is made to order for Duquette, lots of overlooked players who could fill a niche. Ryan Flaherty was Duquette’s takeaway last December and he even homered in the Division Series.

The Orioles have room for a Rule 5 addition or two. They have 38 players on the 40-man roster.

5) The Orioles will finally name their third-base coach

Last week, Duquette said the team would probably name its successor to DeMarlo Hale as third base coach at the winter meetings. Some out-of-work coaches and former managers will probably try to convince the team that they’re a good fit.

Some of the rumored choices include Orioles minor league officials Bobby Dickerson and Brian Graham, Steve Smith a former Texas and Cleveland third base coach, Don Wakamatsu, a former Seattle manager, Rich Dauer, the onetime Orioles second baseman and former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo.

The team could also move Wayne Kirby from first to third and perhaps add Mike Bordick. Last year, there was some talk that Cesar Izturis, a Showalter favorite, would join the staff, but he preferred to keep playing.

Most coaching openings have been accounted for by now, so the Orioles have their choice of quality candidates.