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First of all, I hope everybody had a happy and safe holiday. It was a non-eventful one throughout baseball but that's the way it usually goes. Most front offices close around the holidays, and I assume will remain so until Monday, Jan.3. However, that doesn't mean moves cannot be made. It's not like general managers keep their cell phones locked in their office awaiting their return. It can, however, prevent deals from getting finalized because players would have to get physicals and those usually are pushed back until after the holidays.

Either way, I thought it would be a good time for a quick review of what the Orioles still have left to do in regards to player acquisitions over the next month or so.

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Find a first baseman: When I last checked in with sources a couple of days ago, the Orioles remained in negotiations with both Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee. LaRoche had been insisting on a three-year deal, but there is some talk that his demands have come down a little bit and more in the Orioles' preferred range. That has led to talks between the two sides, which were clearly at an impasse for much of last week, picking up again. Still, some key decision makers in the organization maintain interest in Lee, who is seeking a one-year deal in the $10 million range. The Orioles have traded proposals with Lee's agent, Casey Close, on a couple of occasions and the two sides aren't too far apart on terms. However, Lee, like LaRoche, does have other options, and didn't have the Orioles high on his wish list when free agency began. I'm told that he has warmed to the idea a little, but it's hardly a sure thing that he'd come to Baltimore even if the Orioles had the best offer on the table. The Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals are among the teams that still could add a first baseman.

Solidify the bullpen: The Orioles remain in negotiations with reliever Kevin Gregg, who apparently is mulling through offers. The Orioles have traded several proposals with his agent, but I can't say for sure if their offer remains in the two-year, eight to $10 million range. That's where it stood a couple of weeks ago at the winter meetings. Back then, I thought it was a formality that they'd land the former Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins' closer. But the longer this goes on – and Gregg's agent, Danny Horwits, did say not too long ago that the reliever was hoping to have a new club by the holidays - the more doubt creeps in that the Orioles will sign the right-hander. If they can't get Gregg, I expect the Orioles will turn to the remaining free agent closers/set-up men, a list that includes Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour. I also expect that they'll sign one more left-handed reliever from a group that includes Mark Hendrickson, Will Ohman, Hideki Okajima, Ron Mahay and Joe Beimel. As it stands without any new additions and barring any injuries, the Orioles' seven-man bullpen on Opening Day would likely include Koji Uehara, Michael Gonzalez, Jim Johnson, Jeremy Accardo, Jason Berken, Alfredo Simon and Rick VandenHurk.

Add starting pitching depth: This is the one area that is the biggest mystery because it's something the Orioles clearly want to do, but they haven't been connected to any of the available free agent starters. Freddy Garcia's name has come up, but I was told that was more just a matter of doing their due diligence rather than aggressively making a bid for the veteran. They have at least talked to Carl Pavano's agent, but I've been given no indication that they got very far with him and are one of the remaining suitors. The remaining free agent starters include Jeremy Bonderman, Dave Bush, Doug Davis, Justin Duchscherer, Jeff Francis, John Maine, Kevin Millwood, Brad Penny and Chris Young. Several of those guys are coming off extensive injury issues and as I've written many times, that type of free agent is reluctant to sign with an American East club that faces the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees a combined 36 times, and plays in a hitter's ballpark. That's not exactly the best way to pitch well, prove you are healthy and get that long-term deal the following offseason. Most people I talk to suggest that the Orioles will go the trade route in acquiring a starter, but I'm not sure how many teams out there are trading starting pitching depth. The Philadelphia Phillies would obviously have no issues parting with Joe Blanton, but he's another guy that the Orioles aren't extremely high on.

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