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Tuesday Bird Droppings: The winter meetings are in full swing

Two top-tier free agents signed mega-contracts yesterday, unfortunately neither with the Orioles. But some O’s moves could be coming down the pike.

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MLB: Game Two-Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles
Brandon Hyde was named Baseball America’s Manager of the Year, because duh.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

If you thought the start of the winter meetings would spark some major action in MLB’s hot stove season, you were correct, my friends. Day 1 of the San Diego gathering brought two huge free-agent signings. First, the Mets gave Justin Verlander the highest annual salary in baseball history, a whopping two-year, $86 million contract that will pay him 43 mil per season. The Mets sure acted quickly in replacing longtime ace Jacob deGrom, who signed a five-year deal with the Rangers on Friday, and they again have a 1-2 punch of aces, reuniting Verlander with Max Scherzer, his Tigers teammate from 2010-14.

Should the Mets return to the postseason, Verlander and Scherzer atop the rotation could make the Mets nearly unbeatable in a short series. Or at least that’s what the pundits will say. But as O’s fans fondly remember, the Orioles faced those two guys — along with fellow Cy Young winner David Price — in the 2014 Division Series and swept them in three games. Good times! The skipper of that O’s club was, of course, Buck Showalter, who is now managing Verlander and Scherzer with the Mets.

The other major signing last night was shortstop Trea Turner, who agreed to an 11-year, $300 million deal with the defending NL champion Phillies. The Phils were widely considered a favorite to land one of the Big Four free agent shortstops, and they got their man with the dynamic speedster.

Between Verlander, Turner, deGrom, and Jose Abreu, four of the 19 players discussed in Camden Chat’s ongoing free agent target series are now off the board. If the Orioles sign all the other 15, they can still salvage their offseason. Better get started, guys!


Orioles still in hunt for starters after giving Gibson $10 million contract - School of Roch
Mike Elias met with the media yesterday to confirm the Kyle Gibson signing and to clarify his famous “liftoff” comment. It does not, in fact, mean that the Orioles are going to pursue all the most expensive, high-profile free agents. Hmm...I’m starting to think they’re not going to sign those 15 guys after all. I’ll settle for 14.

Mike Elias promised a ‘liftoff’ for the Orioles. This is the week he could start making moves. - The Baltimore Banner
Gibson wasn’t the only free agent signing in Baltimore this week; Orioles beat writer Andy Kostka, formerly of the Baltimore Sun, has moved over to the Baltimore Banner. Here he discusses the positions Elias hopes to fill for the O’s this winter.

2022 MLB Manager Of The Year: Brandon Hyde - Baseball America
Brandon Hyde continues to collect accolades for the Orioles’ 2022 renaissance, earning Baseball America’s Manager of the Year honors. I’m still a little salty that the BBWAA bypassed Hyde for Terry Francona, whose team won the weakest division in baseball.

Trading Anthony Santander is this winter’s main dilemma for Orioles, Mike Elias - The Athletic
Dan Connolly sees a Santander trade possibly in the cards this offseason, and suggests the pitching-rich Marlins as a fit. We’ll take Sandy Alcantara! We’ll even throw in Tyler Nevin to sweeten the pot!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! It’s the 63rd birthday of former Orioles outfielder Larry Sheets, who spent six years with the Birds from 1984-89. Sheets threw batting practice to O’s season ticket holders last year in the Swing for Your Seats contest, and Camden Chat’s own Stacey scorched a shot down the third-base line against him. True story! Anyway, enjoy your day, Larry. Other ex-Orioles born on this day are pitchers Mike Parrott (68) and Jeff Schneider (70).

On this date in 1965, the Orioles acquired right-hander Jack Baldschun from the Phillies for Jackie Brandt and Darold Knowles, a trade that indirectly caused a seismic shift in the course of the franchise — because the O’s then included Baldschun in the epic Frank Robinson deal with the Reds three days later.

And on this day in 2010, the O’s acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks for a pair of relievers. The slugging Reynolds, who was a poor defender but could hit a baseball about as far as humanly possible, provided some unforgettable moments for the surprisingly delightful 2012 Orioles, including 16 homers in the second half of the season (most of them against the Yankees).