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Quiet winter is no coincidence

The market is starting to heat up around baseball, but it's not what you think. The headlines are filled not with record-breaking free-agent deals, but with reports of marginal players signing one-year contracts.

The most recent exception is the deal agreed to by American League MVP Dustin Pedroia, who got six years and $40.5 million, but even that is being viewed in some quarters as a sign that the national recession is having an effect on the offseason baseball economy. It's a nice lifetime security type of deal for Pedroia, based on his service time and the fact that he won't be a free agent any time soon, but it might also be a sign of more conservative times.

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That doesn't mean Mark Teixeira is going to settle for short money, of course, but it probably does mean that the second tier of free agents -- the guys behind Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett -- might find it a little harder to break the bank. We'll have a better feel during and after the winter meetings next week. If nobody makes a big splash there, you'll know that the free-agent market is depressed.

While we're on the subject of the winter meetings, I'll be there along with Orioles beat writer Jeff Zrebiec, and hope to hit the ground -- and the blog -- running late Sunday in Las Vegas, though you'll have to forgive me if I watch the Ravens/Redskins game that night, too.

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I'll be doing frequent blog updates all day Monday through Thursday on the Orioles and other baseball news. I know you feel guilty about sneaking a peek when you're supposed to be working, but since it's the winter meetings, I think your boss will understand if you take a break every half hour or so to click on The Schmuck Stops Here. Don't tell your boss, of course, because he'll be busy doing the same thing and won't want to be bothered.


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