This weekend’s activity on the trade and free agent market probably affects the Orioles more than what occurred in the four days of the Winter Meetings.
The Orioles nor any other American League East team were going to sign Zack Greinke. The Dodgers’ predictably enormous contract for Greinke, reportedly for six years and $147 million, has little relevance to Baltimore.
Josh Hamilton’s eventual re-signing with Texas or moving to Seattle probably won’t have much effect on the Orioles, either. Hamilton would surely interest the Orioles, but only if his market crashed.
Two transactions this weekend had far reaching effects on the team. The first was Mark Reynolds’ one year, $6 million contract with Cleveland.
That made it obvious that the Orioles didn’t really want Reynolds back. First, they declined his $11 million option for next season, which was expected. Then, afraid of paying him perhaps as much as $9 million through the arbitration process, they make no effort to sign him and don’t tender him a contract.
If Duquette really wanted Reynolds, even after letting him go, they could have made an offer equal to or slightly exceeding Cleveland’s. Last year, Reynolds made $7.5 million.
The Indians train in Arizona, which enables Reynolds to train at home, and have an accomplished new manager in Terry Francona. Reynolds will return to Baltimore with Cleveland from June 24-27.
The Indians supposedly had been one of the favorites to sign Nick Swisher. Last week, the Orioles flirted with Swisher. Once Nate McLouth re-signed with the team, Duquette downplayed any interest in Swisher.
Reynolds’ move could short circuit the Indians’ pursuit of Swisher. He can play the outfield and first base, but if he has one fewer suitor, then perhaps his price drops enough to interest the Orioles.
Besides Hamilton and Swisher, there are still some bats available on the free agent market including Cody Ross and Kevin Youkilis. Both could fit with the Orioles, but not at their current asking price.
The bigger news for the Orioles was the trade between Kansas City and Tampa Bay. The Rays sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for four young players, outfielder Wil Myers, third baseman Patrick Leonard and pitchers Jake Ordorizzi and Mike Montgomery.
Myers is an exciting prospect who hit 37 home runs and 109 RBIs in Double-A and Triple-A last year. He hit .314, but struck out 140 times.
This trade probably removes the possibility of the Royals trading Billy Butler or Eric Hosmer to Baltimore. The Orioles will have to look to Washington for Michael Morse if Adam LaRoche re-signs or Pittsburgh for Garret Jones to add a big bat.
One name that hasn’t been mentioned is Delmon Young. Last season, Young batted .267 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs and one publicized arrest.
On a visit to New York, a drunken Young spewed anti-Semitic remarks and attacked a group of tourists. Young said he’s taken steps to clean up his image.
If the Orioles are looking for a big bat, perhaps Young will fit in, but he struck out nearly six times as often as he walked. Even though Reynolds was a strikeout machine, he walked regularly, too.