Mike Preston's report card in Week 3
Orioles

Orioles' potential free-agent targets

By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun Baseball's open market is here. Do you know who your general manager is? The Orioles don't. They are the only team without a top executive as free agency officially begins at 12:01 Thursday morning. From a practical sense, that is probably not a huge deal — yet. Players rarely sign in early November, and the Orioles almost never make acquisitions that quickly. Plus, it's not as if the organization isn't prepared for who will be available. That has been a priority the past few months for the remaining members of the front office, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter already has a concrete idea of whom he wants to add to his 25-man roster. As Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said Wednesday when asked whether he was concerned that the Orioles didn't have a GM: "I'm not worried about it at all because I know who our manager is, and, unless I'm incorrect, I'm pretty sure he'll get it done, he'll get something done. No, I really have no worries about it." Aside from public perception, having a GM isn't crucial right now — though that time is approaching. But it makes it difficult to predict whom the Orioles will pursue in free agency, since a new GM will have his own thoughts on players and might also secure a different budget. The best bet here is to look at what the Orioles need most — a boatload of starting pitching, a corner power bat, a middle infielder and potentially a left fielder — and go from there. Here's a list of 12 intriguing free agents and how they might fit, or not fit, with the Orioles. Shortstops were skipped because J.J. Hardy was signed to a three-year extension this summer. No closers are listed either; the Orioles signed one each of the past two offseasons in Michael Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg, and it would be surprising if they dipped into that well again. Also not included are Japanese players, specifically right-handed phenom Yu Darvish, who may or may not be available. And there's no need to mention Albert Pujols here. Major League Baseball would have to contract roughly 28 teams for Baltimore to be appropriately attractive to baseball's biggest star. Even then, the odds of Pujols' being an Oriole would be less than 50-50. The Orioles will kick the tires on more than these dozen players. But they're a good starting point for what will be a busy — if not eventful — offseason in Baltimore.
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