Orioles owner Peter Angelos will be adding a sizable chunk of change to all of his mesothelioma money after his law firm successfully convinced a Baltimore County jury to force Exxon Mobil to pay more than $495 million in damages to local families and business from a 2006 underground gasoline leak in Jacksonville, Md.
What are the chances Angelos will use some of his commission to sign a big-name free agent this winter?
OK, slim to none -- we are talking about Peter Angelos and the Orioles here -- but fans can hope, right?
The most appealing names on the market will be Brewers slugger Prince Fielder, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Three top-of-the-rotation starters -- C.C. Sabathia, Chris Carpenter and Mark Buehrle -- might be available if Andy MacPhail wants to buy an arm for a change.
The guy who makes the most sense for the Orioles is Prince Fielder, who is exactly what this team needs to take a leap forward in 2012. He would end the revolving door at first base and would give them a cleanup hitter who will truly be feared. Although that means Angelos would have to shell out more money for annual Warehouse repairs for the damage done by Fielder, who is batting .306 with 21 homers and 69 runs batted in this season.
The 27-year-old Scott Boras client is said to want at least a five-year deal that would pay him more than $20 million annually. And that price will continue to rise if Fielder is named National League MVP while slugging the Brewers to the playoffs.
Before the Angelos firm nailed down the Exxon case this week, the Orioles were being projected to be one of the major players in the Fielder sweepstakes at season’s end. What about now?
In reality, that big-money settlement isn’t likely to have any impact on what the Orioles do in free agency unless Angelos was huffing gasoline fumes, too. But maybe doing a good thing for one local community will inspire him to do a good deed for Birdland, and Angelos will allow his Orioles to splurge on a Prince.