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Bartolo Colon market "heating up"; Orioles among those interested; team met with Nelson Cruz's agents Monday

The Orioles continue to act interested in free agents during baseball's winter meetings. They are said to be in the market for starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, and on Monday they met with the agents for outfielder Nelson Cruz.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you've been sitting around this hot stove season thinking that the only thing that's missing from the Orioles is a soon-to-be-41-year-old starting pitcher who was suspended for 50 games not too long ago, making more than ten million dollars, boy, have I got some news for you:

Though if we're being honest with ourselves, perhaps the Orioles should sign him just so they don't have to face him.

Reflexively, the idea of signing a guy who will be 41 just kind of grinds my gears. But while Colon has put up a 2.99 ERA over the past two seasons while pitching in the cavernous Colosseum in Oakland, he actually had a road ERA that was just about as good in 2013, so it's not all a product of the environment he pitches in. I, too, was surprised by that fact. However, that probably had a lot to do with his career-low home run per fly ball rate in 2013.

Colon is basically the platonic ideal of a contact pitcher. His two years in Oakland produced a K/9 of 5.5 and a BB/9 of 1.4. This is the complete list of Orioles starters with a lower walk rate than that in 2013:

(blank page)

A career ground ball rate of just over 40% combined with what will hopefully continue to be strong Orioles infield defense, especially on the left side, and you might just find a pitcher who can play at Camden Yards, assuming that the guy who's listed as being 5'11" and 265 pounds does not suddenly completely and totally suck when facing a lot of AL East opponents in AL East stadiums at the age of 41.

He throws a fastball 85% of the time, for crying out loud. That just sounds crazy. It's been working for him, though, and maybe it could work in Baltimore for 2014. It's nobody's idea of a glamorous signing, but it could get the job done.

Of course, there's always the chance that the Orioles are as interested in Colon as they were in Scott Feldman and Nate McLouth, two players who they maintained they had interest in for weeks before they signed elsewhere and it turned out they never even made an offer to those players.


Speaking of interest, here's another player who was recently suspended for 50 games who has the O's checking in:

What does it mean that they met with Cruz's agents? Maybe they just sat around and told jokes the whole time. "Man, guys, wouldn't it be funny if we were really going to sign a free agent?" Dan Duquette might say, laughing, and Cruz's agents, as they sip from complimentary artisan water bottles, would laugh in turn, at the notion that their mere meeting with the Orioles could drive up the price on Cruz.

Cruz, who will turn 33 next July 1, batted .266/.327/.506 in 109 games for Texas before being suspended in connection with the Biogenesis investigation. He hit 27 home runs in that time. That would not be terrible to have on the Orioles, but the four-year contract that Cruz is rumored to be seeking - on top of costing their first-round draft selection - very well could be.