Is Vlad coming here? (and other offseason updates)
So let’s address the report that the Orioles have the inside track on signing free-agent outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, shall we?
(In case you missed it here’s the blurb courtesy of the fabulous website, MLBTradeRumors: “A person close to Guerrero told ESPNDeportes.com Enrique Rojas that the Orioles have the inside track on signing him, but the Angels are another possibility.”)
I’ve written, as have others, that the Orioles have some interest in Vlad. They’ve met with his reps. But they do NOT have the inside track on signing him. In fact someone close to negotiations seemed rather surprised when I put that one out there. Used the word “shocked” when I quoted the above.
So, why does Baltimore not have the edge? First, where do you put him? Well, the O’s would likely move Luke Scott to left field in that scenario and trade away either Felix Pie or Nolan Reimold (one of several Orioles working out with Brady Anderson this winter). Most teams have shored up most of their glaring holes so it’s really not a good time to be trading, and the early word on Reimold is that he looks really good this winter.
Second, Vlad’s price needs to drop. How much? I don’t know exactly, but enough to make it a deal the Orioles can’t pass up. And thirdly, the organization’s main focus remains on adding arms, specifically a lefty reliever and a veteran starter. It’s not to say they’ve given up on the offense, but they have made some upgrades there and want to try to not rely solely on the young pitching staff.
Again, I’m not saying to rule out Vlad coming here completely. But it’s not a track I’d bet on.
As for a veteran starter update, the Orioles are looking for a guy that should he not perform up to expectations, they have an out clause and aren’t saddled with an unperforming veteran.
Could it be Kevin Millwood, who told MASNSports.com that Baltimore’s still an option? Again, I wouldn’t rule it out (that’s the No. 1 offseason cliche: “anything can happen”), but it’s doubtful.
Millwood made a pretty substantial amount of money last year and his agent is Scott Boras, meaning the “Boras factor” must be accounted for in trying to get him on a cheaper deal. His options could run dry, or the Orioles could go with a guy with a lesser pedigree that they can bring on a deal that makes more sense.
It’s important to note that they haven’t penciled in Zach Britton and Chris Tilllman in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation. But you do want to a) foster competition and b) have starting pitching depth to cover injury/underperformance.
All the top free agent pitchers are off the board and the Orioles aren’t looking at anything sexy in filling their last two spots. They’re clearance shopping.