11/19/10 3:55 PM EST
MacPhail: GM Meetings 'helpful' for O's
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"People have different timetables, but we don't necessarily control those," MacPhail said when asked when the Orioles' first move may come. "We've had the discussions that we needed to have."
While he declined to name specifics, MacPhail said there was "no shortage of activity" both on the trade market and in conversations the organization had with free agents on its wish list. Tops on that list is a corner infield power bat, making players like Adrian Beltre, Paul Konerko, Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn attractive, as well as Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche. The Orioles would also like to add a veteran starter and a few bullpen arms, and although they have money to spend -- with only Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Michael Gonzalez and Brian Matusz owed money next season -- their wealth of young pitching makes for an attractive trade partner.
The O's inquired about both Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett and Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy, according to a report on Thursday in the Baltimore Sun, with Tampa Bay reportedly countering by asking about right-handed reliever David Hernandez. While MacPhail has said frequently that no one is untouchable in trade talks, it stands to reason that it would take a significant return for the Orioles to part with Matusz, a prized 23-year-old lefty.
"Any move [you consider] the same criteria," MacPhail said of the thought process behind potentially dealing their young arms. "If you really feel like you are better off [than] before, that's the basis. You have to look at [each trade] individually."
As for the criticism that the Orioles are moving too deliberately while other teams wheel and deal, MacPhail -- who hasn't been "too surprised" by any of the early trades -- makes no apologies for how he conducts offseason business.
"What's important at the end of the day is that the moves are the ones that help the club," he said. "Whether they move fast or slow is less impactful than whether they are right.
"I don't think it's going to come as a big shock. ... I'm not one, and the front office, we're not one that talks about what we're going to do [through the media]."
The Orioles, who lost seven players to free agency this winter, continue to have discussions with the respective agents of right-hander Koji Uehara and infielders Ty Wigginton and Cesar Izturis about a possible return to Baltimore. Whether that happens with Uehara and Wigginton could come down to a matter of contract length, with Wigginton and Izturis' fate in Baltimore tied to what specific bats the Orioles bring in.
While the organization expressed initial interest in Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, it's doubtful it will get involved in the bidding and even less likely that it will win exclusive negotiating rights. While Izturis left a hole at shortstop, the Orioles aren't too keen on what the asking price of Nishioka will amount to and would prefer to spend their money elsewhere.
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.