A year ago, the newly-minted executive vice president of baseball operations went to the General Manager’s meetings to re-introduce himself to the baseball kingmakers.
Twelve months later, the Baltimore Orioles’ Dan Duquette is again one of the insiders.
Traditionally, there’s not a lot of action at the GM meetings. The real action takes place at the winter meetings, which start early next month in Nashville.
In 2011, Duquette came home from the winter meetings nearly empty-handed, and may do so again.
His souvenirs from Dallas were Ryan Flaherty from the Rule 5 Draft and Dana Eveland in a minor trade. His moves this year may not be any more dramatic.
Duquette’s biggest takeaways last year came after the Winter Meetings, and they were both international, the signings of Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen.
The Orioles are a much more attractive place for free agents to land this year than last. The free agent environment is an unknown.
Other than Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, there aren’t a lot of big ticket free agents on the market.
For many years, the Winter Meetings meant big news on free agents with the rest of the big names signing by Christmas. In recent years, the market was slower in developing.
Last year, the Angels signed Albert Pujols to a mammoth deal with C.J. Wilson right behind, but it wasn’t until later in January that the other big name, Prince Fielder, signed.
This year is the first for rules under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Compensation to clubs losing a free agent will be announced on Friday instead of early next month. That may accelerate the signing timetable.
Baseball free agency is much different than in football or basketball. In the NFL and NBA, the salary cap dictates that the biggest signings occur almost immediately.
In baseball, there’s no rhythm. Hamilton or Greinke could sign today or two months from now. If a team badly wanted to make a stealthy splash as the Nationals did two years ago with Jayson Werth, they can set their own timetable.
Hamilton and Greinke don’t seem likely to sign with the Orioles. Hamilton’s numbers would be a great add in left field, but his long-term demands probably would frighten off Duquette.
If somehow the market for either Hamilton or Greinke collapses, the Orioles could swoop in. They were rumored to have looked at Fielder last winter, but his market didn’t fall apart; it was just slow developing.
There seems to be no rush on the team’s principal free agents, Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders.
-The finalists for next week’s awards handed out by the Baseball Writers will be announced on the MLB Network tonight at 6 p.m. Three finalists will be named for the Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and Cy Young Award. Five finalists will be named for the Most Valuable Player.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is expected to be a finalist for the AL Manager of the Year.
-The Orioles signed outfielder Jason Pridie to a minor league contract. Pridie’s most extended major league action was 101 games with the New York Mets in 2011 when he batted .230. He hit .300 in nine games with Philadelphia in 2012.
The Orioles also re-signed catcher Allan de San Miguel, an Australian who played 62 games at Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk.
-Greg Bader, the team’s longtime Director of Communications, has been promoted to Vice President of Communications.