There has still been very little action by the Orioles in this off season, which is perhaps why I've begun getting excited when I see the Orioles mentioned anywhere. The only current rumors to cling to are about Joe Saunders, who the Orioles have been talking to for months, and Jason Kubel, who has been attached to the Orioles through Jon Heyman (I'll let you make your own decision on how much confidence you put in something from Jon Heyman).
First, Saunders. Dan Connolly wrote in the Sun today that Saunders would love to come back to Baltimore but he's not very involved in the process. His agent is currently trying to find him the best deal, but the Orioles don't really want to give him three years. I do not blame them. The overpaying precedent has been set this off season, but Joe Saunders has been essentially a league average pitcher his entire career. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, the world needs league average. But signing a guy to a three-year deal when that's basically his ceiling may not be the best use of resources.
Camden Chatter nattybroh suggested in the open thread two years with a vesting option based on innings pitched, and that would definitely be a nice alternative. Jon Shepard from Camden Depot had another idea that I like, offering him incentives based on games started, so that if it doesn't work out you're not paying so much for a relief pitcher.
I, like many Orioles fans, would like to see Saunders come back. Well, I should say that I wouldn't mind. I won't consider it a great loss if he gets his three or more years somewhere else. He'll be Joe Saunders: Playoff Hero even if he's not back for the 2013 season.
Now, this Jason Kubel rumor. As I said, really only Jon Heyman has mentioned it, and it was on Twitter, not in a column, so who knows if the Orioles are even interested in him. Here is what Heyman tweeted:
#dbacks seek young pitchers from #orioles for kubel. To this point Baltimore disinclined to do that.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 5, 2013
This is a rumor that makes zero sense to me. Jason Kubel is an OF/DH who hits for power, but he has a pretty big platoon split. In his career against righties he hits .279/.343/.498, but against lefties just .238/.308/.383. In order to imagine a scenario where the Orioles would need Kubel, you'd have to consider that Reimold is hurt again in 2013 or has just lost his ability to play baseball and/or that Nate McLouth is going to return to his pre-Orioles form and is no better than a fourth outfielder. And in the case of Reimold, if he does get injured, you really don't want your two option for left field being McLouth and Kubel, neither of which can hit left-handed pitching.
There isn't really room for him as a DH since his splits are nearly identical to Wilson Betemit, who is already slated to hit against righties from that position. If the Orioles wanted to go after someone to platoon with Betemit (they already signed Danny Valencia, who might fill that role), it'd have to be someone who hits lefties, not someone with a career .308 OBP against them.
This is probably a whole lot of nothing, but hey, it's something to talk about.