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Orioles come into winter meetings with needs, hunting for bargains

The Orioles will head into the MLB winter meetings with a shopping list. They probably won't make much of a splash. That isn't Dan Duquette's style. You never know, though, so stay tuned just in case.

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Last year at baseball's winter meetings, the Orioles didn't do much of anything, although at least one report I read at the time nonetheless described them as the most aggressive team at the meetings. Will this year be any different? It doesn't seem to be in the style of Dan Duquette to strike a major deal in December. It only takes one surprise for everything to change.

Hopefully the surprise doesn't involve him going to be the Blue Jays CEO. If you missed that panic yesterday, that's probably better for you.

A sudden appearance in the pursuit of either Max Scherzer or Jon Lester is not so likely. What's more likely is that the Orioles will try to address the needs that Duquette himself has indicated over the last couple of weeks. The team wants to find an outfielder, a bullpen lefty, and a catcher who can compete to back up Matt Wieters. Who isn't looking for all of those things?

For the O's, it seems to be less about going out and trying to find players immediately as it is for laying the ground work for people they might talk to later. That's supposedly what happened last year as the wheels first got turning with Nelson Cruz and, less successfully, Ubaldo Jimenez with initial meetings around this time. Rather than luck that they fell into the O's laps, it might have even been a strategy. Not that it was luck that Ubaldo fell into their laps, but you know.

There will probably be at least one decent free agent who's left without a team when the music stops towards the end of the offseason. We don't know who that will be right now, and neither does Duquette. So he'll probably meet with everyone interesting, and most of those meetings will prove to be wasted time as those players sign, one by one, elsewhere.

There will probably be at least one free agent who's left without a team when the music stops.

Then perhaps there will be another February where spring training approaches or arrives and players who are not Scott Boras clients no longer want to drive such a hard bargain and want to sign. But other teams have spent all of their money. Their suitors are few. If this happens again, the Orioles will be there to give someone a uniform and a roster spot and, more importantly, millions of dollars, because who cares THAT much about the #26 overall draft pick?

Actually, only six of those guys are left, of whom Melky Cabrera is the only position player. Well, it worked out decently the last time the Orioles got themselves a steroid-connected, desperate-for-a-team guy. No sure thing that will happen again. Cabrera is out there trying to get himself five years. Many teams could use outfielders but probably not so many would want to give five years to Cabrera.

Would it even be a good idea to have Cabrera on the Orioles even for a cheap price? I have no idea! That's the fun and also terrifying part. The next Cruz is out there. So is the next Jimenez.

There will be a lot of rumors, most all of which will be meaningless. Above all else, remember the first rule of baseball rumors: Probably nothing will happen. Sometimes it does and things get more interesting for a while.

Duquette is scheduled to meet with the O's media contingent who have traveled along at about 3pm Pacific time each day. He will say things like, "We made an offer to a free agent today." That was an actual quote from last year. He delights in confounding the unfortunate souls whose job it is to record his every word and pore over it for signs of portent, wondering which turn of phrase heralds an impending acquisition.

The free agent referenced may have been Ryan Webb, who was the Orioles' lone signing at the meetings last year. It may have been some minor league free agent who was gone a month into spring training.

Be on the lookout for completely absurd rumors being bandied about by known or unknown idiots. A typical trend is for some bored people to make Twitter accounts with names like "Ken Rosenthai" and post nutty news to try to trick people into believing it is really happening. Sometimes it works and actual reporters who receive salaries and benefits unwittingly buy into this information.

Look for the blue check mark! I don't have a blue check mark, but I'm also not in danger of breaking any news.

So far this hot stove season there are also a bunch of weird 14-year-olds who are just plain making stuff up. No one knows why. Those of us who are old enough are likely fortunate there was no social media when we were 14.

Stay tuned to Camden Chat while the meetings go on for increasingly desperate attempts to describe nothing happening, or, if the unexpected occurs and something does happen, a panicked attempt to meaningfully assess a given move. If there is a move, news of it will probably break while I'm either eating or not home, because that is the life of a blogger. It'll be a blast.