The obvious “one that got away” for the Orioles on Tuesday was first baseman Prince Fielder -- though I have been arguing all offseason that you have to be in the game to lose.
And the Orioles were never in the game. They never had any intention of spending $214 million or giving a nine-year contact to the hefty slugger, who agreed to those terms with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.
A much less heralded signing, but one that should still interest Orioles fans, was the report Tuesday from Fox Sports that the Toronto Blue Jays had agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with reliever Francisco Cordero.
Unlike with Fielder, the Orioles were legitimately in on Cordero, 36, who has 327 career saves and has converted 34 or more opportunities in each of his past five seasons. A representative of Cordero's spoke with Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on Monday night, but ultimately, Cordero chose the Blue Jays and a setup role to newly acquired closer Sergio Santos.
Also listed as finalists for Cordero were the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies, but the Orioles were the only team of Cordero’s final four that could have promised the closer’s role. Apparently, that wasn’t the primary decision-maker for Cordero.
With him off the board, the Orioles will likely return to their original plan -- to have Jim Johnson, who converted eight straight save opportunities to end last season, act as closer. Kevin Gregg, the club’s primary closer in 2011, also is expected to be a late-inning reliever for the Orioles, barring a trade.
Cordero has a track record for closing that no current Oriole possesses, but there’s a line of thinking that a below-average team does not need an expensive closer.
The past two offseasons, the Orioles have bought a closer (Michael Gonzalez and Gregg) only to see that pitcher lose his job. They likely won’t be going into that market again this year.
It is still expected, however, that they will add another reliever or two before spring training begins.