The official off-season begins now.
The Orioles closed their offices on Monday because of Hurricane Sandy, and no official announcements should be forthcoming.
Players can declare for free agency, but no player can sign with another team until Saturday. That gives the Orioles the chance to negotiate with Endy Chavez, Dana Eveland, Nick Johnson, Nate McLouth, Ronny Paulino, Joe Saunders, Jim Thome and Randy Wolf.
MLBTraderumors.com lists Luis Ayala as a free agent, but the Orioles can keep him by exercising his $1 million option for next season. They’ll do that.
Eveland and Paulino declared for free agency earlier this month. The Orioles have no interest in re-signing them. They have little interest in Chavez, either. Johnson will probably retire.
Wolf is having Tommy John surgery and won’t be able to play in 2013, so he’s out, too.
There’s little urgency in deciding about Thome. He hasn’t yet publicly announced whether he’d like to play again next year and there’s no likely to be much of a market for a 42-year-old designated hitter who was injured much of the season.
Nate McLouth and Saunders are the only real concerns. Saunders made $6 million last season, and was valuable to the Orioles, especially in the postseason.
How much do the Orioles want him? How much of a hometown discount would he give his near-hometown team? Does Saunders want to explore free agency and see how much he’s worth?
McLouth's two months with the Orioles were impressive, but he may want to try and cash in with a team that might guarantee him playing time.
The Orioles may begin making moves with their 40-man roster later this week, but other than exercising Ayala’s option or a possible Saunders extension, this week may be a quiet one.
Hurricane Sandy will make sure it starts off that way.