With as many as four openings in their 2009 rotation, the Orioles aren't ruling out any candidates to start, and that includes Danys Baez.
Baez, who hasn't pitched in a major league game since August 2006 and is trying to come back from ligament-reconstruction surgery, has informed team officials he wants to be a starter in the coming season. Signed to a three-year, $19 million deal after the 2006 season to set up closer Chris Ray, Baez hasn't started a game since 2002, when he went 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA in making 26 starts for the Cleveland Indians.
"He's expressed some interest in preparing himself as a starter, and we'll see how things go from there," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said. "It seems to make sense. I don't know if you lose anything by doing that. Preparing yourself that you are going to start is not going to retard your development whatever the role you end up being in."
Barring a trade, the back end of the Orioles' bullpen is mostly set with Ray, George Sherrill and Jim Johnson, meaning Baez's best shot to fill a key role for the 2009 Orioles is probably in their rotation. Only right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is a lock for next year's group.
"There are probably going to be more openings out of the rotation than out of the bullpen at the present time," MacPhail said
Baez joined the Orioles' instructional league team and will be "full go" when spring training begins, MacPhail said.
MacPhail said he accomplished what he had hoped at the general managers meetings, which ended yesterday in Dana Point, Calif.
"We spoke to the clubs that we felt like we needed to touch base with," MacPhail said. "Most of the conversations, if not at all of them, were more in a general term where you get a sense of who might be interested. You didn't drill down further into the specifics at this stage. You are really trying to identify and confirm potential partners going forward."
MacPhail said he expects to have follow-up calls with several teams in the days before December's winter meetings, though he didn't characterize any of the trade talks as being far along.
"You don't know specifically what's going to evolve into something more tangible, but there was a little more activity on some guys that we might have anticipated and a little less on others that we might have anticipated," MacPhail said.
MacPhail said he met with a couple of agents but declined to say whether he spoke to Scott Boras and Darek Braunecker, the agents for Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, respectively. Teams cannot make offers to free agents until Nov. 14.
Not so fast
The Orioles inquired about Khalil Greene last year and remain interested in the San Diego Padres' slick-fielding shortstop. However, Greene isn't on top of the team's shortstop wish list. The Orioles would prefer to get a longtime solution at the position, and Greene is eligible to become a free agent after the 2009 season.
Around the horn
The Orioles have agreed to terms on a 2009 contract with third base coach Juan Samuel, who likely would have been a candidate to fill the third base coaching vacancy with the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. ... MacPhail said there have been no new developments in negotiations on contract extensions for Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis. ... MacPhail had discussions with Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman about the player to be named in August's Chad Bradford trade but said that no decision had been reached. "Expectations shouldn't be high," MacPhail said.