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Monday Bird Droppings: It’s time for the Winter Meetings

Will the wheeling and dealing finally begin?

Cincinnati Reds v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Happy Monday, Camden Chatters! Thanksgiving is over, Hanukkah kicks off this week, Christmas is just a few weeks away, and finally, something is happening in MLB. That’s right, the Winter Meetings kicked off last night in Nashville, TN and run through Wednesday. Will the Orioles make a big splash? It’s unlikely. But some dominoes could start to fall.

It seems that everyone hopes that first domino will be the biggest of all, Shohei Ohtani. Most outlets seem to think the Dodgers are the favorites to land the superstar, but there has been very little real information about where he’s leaning. The pundits at ESPN mostly think that Ohtani will sign this week and it’ll be with the Dodgers. And over at MLB.com it’s being reported that Ohtani has received multiple offers of over $500 million. Something makes me think that the Orioles are not one of them. It has been reported that the Blue Jays are interested which I do not care for at all.

So the Orioles won’t be signing Ohtani or making any other big moves. So what will Mike Elias do? He could be going after a relief pitcher like Robert Stephenson or maybe Jordan Hicks. He will almost certainly be exploring what his prospects can bring back in a trade either pitching, either starting or relief.

I continue to wait anxiously to see which prospects we will say goodbye to as Mike Elias continues to improve the big league team. It’s probably the scariest part of this whole thing to me. What if he picks the wrong prospect to get rid of? What if the return doesn’t justify the trade? What if the system can’t recover? What if the prospects don’t get traded in a timely fashion and lose their value? If I were Mike Elias, that is what would keep me up at night.

Thankfully I am not him.

Links

What each team can achieve at MLB Winter Meetings - MLB.com
"Orioles: Lay the groundwork for additions to pitching staff." Pretty vague! Jake Rill suggests they will go the trade route rather than free agency.

Davey Johnson again falls short in Hall of Fame vote - MASN Sports
Former Orioles player and manager Davey Johnson was up for election to the Hall of Fame via the Contemporary Eras Committee but fell short of the required 12 votes. Jim Leyland did get the call.

Passing along possible Winter Meetings questions (Leyland elected to Hall of Fame) - MASN Sports
Roch Kubatko has questions to ask at the winter meetings. Lots of questions.

Birthdays and Trades (so many trades!)

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have two Orioles birthday buddies, including Hall of Famer Lee Smith. Smith, who turns 66 years old today, played 18 years in the majors including one season with the Orioles.

In 1994, Smith pitched in 41 games with the Orioles and led the league with 33 saves. He pitched to a 3.29 ERA and was named to the All-Star team. Smith’s 478 career saves are third in MLB history behind Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.

Also celebrating today is former Oriole Stan Jefferson (61). Jefferson played outfield in 296 games over six big league seasons, including 45 games with the Orioles from 1989-90.

On this day in 1963, the Orioles traded OF Al Smith to Cleveland for OF Willie Kirkland. The trade didn’t really help either team.

On the flip side, in 1968 the Orioles made what turned out to be an incredible trade. They sent Curt Blefary and John Mason to Houston for Mike Cuellar and two other players. Cuellar pitched for the Orioles from 1969-76. In that time he won the Cy Young award, made three All-Star appearances, and pitched in 12 postseason games including the World Series clincher in 1970. Camden Chat named Cuellar the 22nd-best player in Orioles history.

In 1973, the Orioles traded Merv Rettenmund and Junior Kelly to the Reds for pitcher Ross Grimsley. Rettenmund had a fine six-year stretch with the Orioles but couldn’t find his way in Cincinnati. Grimsley spent four seasons with the Orioles, the best of which was his first in 1974. He won 18 games out of 39 starts and had an ERA of 3.07.

On this day in 1974 the Orioles ripped off another great trade. They sent Dave McNally and outfielder Rich Coggins to the Montreal Expos for Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez. Neither Camden Chat nor I were around in 1974, but I would have been angry to see the 32-year-old McNally go. He’d pitched his entire career in Baltimore and had been on two teams that won the World Series. He had been a stalwart in the rotation.

That anger, however, wouldn’t have lasted very long. McNally was out of baseball after 12 games with the Expos while Singleton became one of the best (and most handsome) players in team history. Singleton spent 10 years with the Orioles and finished with a 135 OPS+. His career OBP with the team was .388 and he hit 182 home runs.

In more depressing trade history, it was on this day in 1988 when the Orioles traded Eddie Murray to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The superstar player was given a raw deal by the team, the Baltimore media, and many of the team’s fans. Thankfully time has healed some of the wounds and the Hall of Famer is now on good terms with the team. He is regularly seen around Camden Yards and has been a special advisor for the Orioles since 2018.