Orioles week features renewed free agent talk

Orioles week features renewed free agent talk
January 25, 2014, 10:30 am
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Hall of Fame voter Mark Zuckerman on the 2014 class

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter walks in the dugout before Game 3 of the Orioles' American League division baseball series against the New York Yankees Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in New York.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The spring training countdown has begun in earnest. Tickets for games in Sarasota went on sale Saturday morning. FanFest is a week from now at the Baltimore Convention Center, and with the awful weather we’re experiencing, baseball can’t come soon enough.

This week there were signs the Orioles were getting more serious about adding a starter. Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett appear to be their top choices.

Masahiro Tanaka signed a gigantic contract with the New York Yankees, and that loosened up the stagnant market for starters.

Arroyo would like a three-year contract, and if the Orioles will offer him that, perhaps he’ll join them. He has rumored interest from Minnesota and both Los Angeles teams, too.

Burnett, who lives in nearby Monkton, Md., hasn’t said if he’s going to pitch in 2014, but obviously must make a decision soon. The Pittsburgh Pirates say that they’re moving on without Burnett, but if he’d like to return, they’ll accommodate him.

So would the Orioles, and so might the Phillies. With 19 days left until spring training, decisions must be made.

This was the week when the Orioles finally had closure with Grant Balfour. More than a month after their deal with Balfour collapsed, the reliever signed a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles, who were incensed when two team physicians, including one with the Rays, talked publicly about his medical condition, can’t be eager to face him regularly this season.

After the Balfour deal went away, there was some brief talk that the team had interest in the only remaining marquee name reliever, Fernando Rodney.

[RELATED: Arroyo, Burnett or Rodney?]

After a few days, attention centered on Tommy Hunter as the team’s 2014 closer, and it’s been there since. At the right price, Rodney could still interest the Orioles, but there was word there were other suitors for him, too.

A second deal fell through this week because of a bad medical report, and that was outfielder Tyler Colvin’s. Colvin has a back issue, and the Orioles would still like to sign the outfielder to a minor league deal. He may if he can’t get interest elsewhere.

The Orioles never did confirm there was a deal with Colvin, and they’re likely to be even more discreet about future ones until physicals are passed.

Colvin seemed a bit of a stretch for a major league deal, anyway. He batted just .160 in 27 games for Colorado, and his resume isn’t as strong as Delmon Young’s, who had to settle for a minor league deal.

Young, Alfredo Aceves, Quintin Berry, Alexi Casilla and Xavier Paul could all make valid cases that they deserved major league deals instead of Colvin.

Without Colvin, the Orioles still have 11 outfielders coming to spring training, and his chances of making the club didn’t look strong.

Two one-time Orioles reached agreement on minor league deals on Friday. Freddy Garcia, who actually started a division series game for Atlanta, re-signed with the Braves.

Ty Wigginton, who was shockingly the Orioles’ All-Star representative in 2010, signed with Miami. Wigginton was somehow able to get a two-year, $5 million contract with St. Louis before last season, but was released in July with a .163 average. No one picked him up. The Cardinals are on the hook for most of his contract this season.

[RELATED: Will the Orioles sign any of these free agents?]