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Wednesday Bird Droppings: The final day of the Winter Meetings

While it’s surely been a busy week in Nashville, relatively few significant moves have been announced, and so far the O’s have come up empty.

MLB: General Manager’s Meetings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

Well, the Winter Meetings conclude later today, and right now it’s looking like they might go out with a whimper. So far, the biggest news out of Nashville is that the Cleveland Guardians won the first overall pick in next summer’s draft despite having just a 2% chance to do so. The O’s won’t pick until 22nd overall, their spot unaffected by the lottery system. Scintillating stuff!

That isn’t entirely fair, of course. The Jarred Kelenic trade on Sunday was a big deal, and the intra-division trade between the Red Sox and Yankees that lands Alex Verdugo in the Bronx will certainly have an impact in the AL East. But overall, things have been underwhelming.

The prevailing theory is that everyone is waiting for Shohei Ohtani to make a decision on where he will be playing in 2024 and beyond. That’s understandable considering he may garner more than $500 million in compensation and he fills two significant needs on a team’s roster, at least he will once he’s ready to pitch again.

The two-way superstar has made in known that he would like his free agency to be conducted entirely behind closed doors. Despite this, it has been leaked that both the Dodgers and Blue Jays have met with Ohtani. One can also assume that teams like the Yankees and Giants are also involved, and the Angels have to be giving it a shot too.

Something similar can be said for Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Although he is yet to throw an MLB pitch, he’s widely viewed as the top free agent starter on the market. Teams searching for an ace may wait to see where he goes before moving on to someone like Blake Snell or even a trade for Dylan Cease, Corbin Burnes, and others.

Maybe Mike Elias gave a call to Ohtani’s or Yamamoto’s agents at some point, but let’s not hold our breath about the Orioles landing either of them. That said, it is in the Orioles’ interest for those two to sign somewhere soon if they really are holding up other significant business from getting done around the league.

And so, it would appear that the Orioles exit the Winter Meetings in relatively the same place that they entered. Perhaps the groundwork has been laid to sign a free agent reliever (more on that in a minute), and hopefully some worthwhile conversations have been had around a move for a frontline starter. But as has become commonplace for this front office, we won’t know anything with certainty until the business is complete.

Links

Orioles “Seriously Engaged” On Craig Kimbrel | MLB Trade Rumors
This feels like the exact kind of move that Mike Elias would make to address the back-end of the bullpen. Kimbrel is no longer the ultra-dominant force he was near the start of his career, but he would certainly make the Orioles bullpen better. He might just assume the very same one-year, $10 million deal that Kyle Gibson took a year ago.

Jackson Holliday making Orioles’ opening day roster a ‘very strong possibility,’ Mike Elias says | The Baltimore Sun
Sure! Holliday was incredible in the minors last year and all signs point to him being an everyday member of the Orioles lineup at some point in 2024. Making that happen by Opening Day feels aggressive, but if the Orioles think he’s ready then let’s do it. If that is possible, then it also positions someone like Jordan Westburg to become the centerpiece of a significant trade this winter.

Orioles staying quiet as Winter Meetings nearing conclusion | Roch Kubatko
Yeah, the Orioles and everyone else! It’s been a slow week overall, although a few things did start to trickle in on Tuesday.

Orioles uncertain on Rule 5 pick; Elias on Dominican facility, Kjerstad, outfield depth | Baltimore Baseball
Elias is talking like the Orioles won’t take someone in the Rule 5 draft. That would be new around these parts! The team does have four open spots on their 40-man roster, so there is certainly room. But that room could could be cut in half quickly if the team lands the reliever and starter they are said to covet. Elias likes to have some wiggle room to make waiver claims, and so it makes sense to keep a couple of spots open unless a truly intriguing talent falls to you.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Larry Sheets turns 64 today. The outfielder had six-season stint with the Orioles from 1984 through ‘89 during which time he posted a 112 OPS+.
  • Mike Parrott celebrates his 69th birthday. He pitched in three games with the 1977 O’s before he was dealt to the Mariners for Carlos Lopez and Tommy Moore.
  • Jeff Schneider is 71 today. The 11 games he pitched for the 1981 Orioles was his only big league experience.

This day in O’s history

1954 - The O’s trade catcher Clint Courtney, shortstop Jim Bridesweser, and pitcher Bob Chakales to the White Sox for catcher Matt Batts, infielder Fred Marsh, and pitchers Dan Johnson and Don Ferrarese.

2010 - Mark Reynolds is traded to the Orioles in exchange for pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.

2013 - Two former Orioles sign elsewhere. Nate McLouth joins the Nations and Scott Feldman inks a three-year deal with the Astros.