Adding fourth outfielder remains priority for O's
Club hoping to bring back McLouth, also talking to Saunders' agent
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As reporters gathered outside Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette's hotel suite at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, a group of men exited and headed for the elevators. Duquette later joked the meeting -- which was regarding a potential corporate agreement with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles -- was another trade discussion.
But as Baltimore heads into Wednesday's Day 3 of the Winter Meetings, it appears the club is making more headway in signing a free-agent outfielder, specifically Nate McLouth.
The Orioles talked with McLouth's agent, Mike Nicotera, on Tuesday and manager Buck Showalter spoke on the phone with the 31-year-old outfielder as well as the two sides continue to engage in frequent discussions. FOXSports.com tweeted Tuesday McLouth is seeking a one-year deal, but Duquette wouldn't confirm nor deny the report: "I'm not sure how that's going to shake out."
The O's met with a half-dozen agents on Tuesday, including representatives for other outfielders in the event that they can't reach an agreement with McLouth, who is their top choice to join outfielders Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweeted that one of the agents the O's met with Tuesday represents free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher.
"We are going to hopefully come home with a signed player at the end of the week," Duquette said of adding a fourth outfielder to the mix. "I wouldn't say that there's a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. We are going to try to get it done so we have another contributing player for our team."
"I think Nate liked Baltimore, he played very well there, and we liked him in Baltimore. He did a good job for us when he came up ... there's a natural interest in re-signing him to the team."
Baltimore also remains interested in bringing back pitcher Joe Saunders, although those talks are more "preliminary" and are going to take some time, according to Duquette, who met with Saunders' reps on Tuesday. The Orioles have not had any discussions with Mark Reynolds since non-tendering him, as they are going to let the market on him play out a little bit first.
Asked about movement on potential trades, Duquette -- who has made it no secret that's the most plausible method in acquiring a big bat -- said the Orioles touched base with five teams on Tuesday, with some of those discussions continued from the previous day.
"We will have to see where it goes," Duquette said. "But [opposing teams] do like our young pitchers. We have gotten considerable interested in a number of our young pitchers."
Was the interest in the O's young arms as expected?
"It was a little slow, but [Monday] and today it kind of picked up," Duquette said. "So, I was heartened by the fact that people do like our pitchers, because we have some good ones and they are young and we can bring them back."
The sense is that the Orioles will have to part with at least one of their young pitchers in a deal for an impact bat, with Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton all potential chips. Still, Duquette was mum on on how many he'd be OK packaging in the right deal, instead quipping, "I like to add pitchers more than I like to trade them away."
"We value our players," Showalter said when asked if he was getting antsy that the Orioles hadn't made any moves in Nashville. "If someone doesn't value them the way we do, then we keep them. I'm the field manager, and I'm about not just the 40-man roster but everybody. I've talked to four or five of our players since we've been here, just checking in on them, and I'm trying to stay focused on that. I like our team.
"I listen, talk to Dan. We're in the same room, all of us, 10 or 12 people, and kicking a lot of things around, obviously. But we value our players. Like I said many times, the greatest thing you can do is know your own. If someone values ours as much as the guy that we might think about acquiring, then you've got them. If not, you hold on to them."
While the Orioles have remained patient in Nashville, there has been activity elsewhere with Boston's three-year deal to land free-agent outfielder Shane Victorino -- worth a reported $39 million -- dominating Tuesday's headlines. And as some of the big fish in the free-agent market circle around, the middle group of players are cashing in on deals that aren't exactly team-friendly. Don't expect the Orioles to get involved in that.
"Adding the pitching to our roster that we added, we put on Zach Clark, we put on [Mike] Belfiore, that was to protect the talent and add players we already had in the system that we thought could help the team," Duquette said. "Adding Yamaico Navarro and keeping [outfielder] Steve Pearce after we claimed him, those are moves we made so we had those players on our roster, so we had certainty that we had them and certainty of the cost.
"Those are little things that we did to try to improve our team. Because I don't really like the mid-level market. Teams pay a lot of money for mediocre talent and it's not the market we want to be in."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.