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Orioles agree to deal with McLouth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Baltimore Orioles will be leaving the Winter Meetings with at least one more outfielder. On Wednesday, the team reached an agreement with Nate McLouth on a one-year, $2 million contract. McLouth could earn up to $500,000 in performance bonuses if he makes 550 plate appearances next season. The outfielder must also pass a physical.

McLouth batted .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 55 games. His career was resuscitated when the Orioles signed him to a minor league contract after Pittsburgh released the one-time All-Star in May.

After Nick Markakis was injured in September, McLouth moved to the leadoff spot and helped the club in its playoff push.

"Nate did a great job for us last year when we brought him up. He helped solidify the team defensively, and hit with some power. He got on base and was an excellent basestealer," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said

McLouth will continue to play left field though he may be part of a platoon with Nolan Reimold.

Manager Buck Showalter called McLouth on Tuesday to tell him how much he wanted him on the team.

"It was clear that Nate enjoyed playing for Buck," Duquette said.

Baltimore has enough outfielders now, Duquette said and he dismissed the possibility of signing Nick Swisher who could fill a hole at first base.

"I don't think we need to worry about that for Baltimore fans," Duquette said.

The Orioles have few question marks left. They'd like to acquire another hitter to play first base or be the designated hitter and Duquette said that he spoke with perhaps five teams on Wednesday in search of a match.

"I don't know about these trades. Sometimes they come together, sometimes they take a while to percolate after the meetings," Duquette said. "We still have our eyes on a couple of other things."

For today, the final day of the winter meetings, Duquette said that he expects to take a player in the Rule 5 draft. Last year, the team drafted infielder Ryan Flaherty.

An outside contender for first base could be Conor Jackson, a 30-year-old veteran of seven major league seasons with Arizona, Oakland and Boston. He was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Jackson and right-handed pitcher Adam Russell, who's 8-3 with a 3.95 ERA in parts of four seasons with the White Sox, Padres and Rays, were among eight minor league signings announced.

The most prominent of the other signings is Lew Ford, who returned to the major leagues last season for the first time since 2007. Ford batted .183 with three home runs and four RBIs for the Orioles.

Other signees with major league experience are outfielder Jason Pridie, who's played for the Twins, Phillies in Mets over the last five seasons and right-handed pitcher Daniel McCutchen, who was 8-11 with a 4.77 ERA in the last four seasons with Pittsburgh.

The team also signed three minor league catchers Jose Gil, Allan De San Miguel and Chris Robinson. De San Miguel and Robinson both played in the Orioles' minor league system last season.

Baltimore also signed 18-year-old left-handed pitcher Jan Novak from the Czech Republic, its first foray into Eastern Europe.

NOTE: Jim Riggleman, the former Washington Nationals manager is another candidate for the Orioles third base coaching job. There may be as many as seven being considered for the job, which was vacated when DeMarlo Hale went to Toronto as bench coach. Former Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu is another candidate as are Orioles minor league coaches Bobby Dickerson and Brian Graham. Former Orioles second baseman Rich Dauer is on the short list, but he just took a job as the manager of San Diego's Double-A team in San Antonio.

Reach correspondent Rich Dubroff at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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