LAS VEGAS — LAS VEGAS - The Orioles still aren't considered the favorites to land coveted free agent Mark Teixeira, but you can't say they're not trying.
Orioles president Andy MacPhail acknowledged he met with the slugging first baseman and his agent, Scott Boras, late last week in Washington and came away impressed with the Severna Park native.
MacPhail didn't go into much detail about what transpired in the meeting, which came on the same day as Teixeira's talks with New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and ownership of the Washington Nationals.
"I think what he had a right to understand and I think what we have an obligation to tell him is where we are as an organization, what we're trying to do, how we're going to do it, how much progress we have made in the last year and a half," MacPhail said yesterday at baseball's winter meetings. "I'm sure he asked the same questions of all the teams he went to."
The Orioles have not made an offer to Teixeira, who is also drawing interest from the Los Angeles Angels (where he finished last season), Boston Red Sox, Yankees and Nationals. However, MacPhail said: "There are [players] that know where we are, in essence."
The Orioles president also said that, though he had no conversations with Boras yesterday, he expects to talk to him this week. Asked if he felt the Orioles had a good chance to land Teixeira, manager Dave Trembley said: "I wouldn't see why we wouldn't. I think we have just as good of a shot as anybody else."
In other winter meeting news:
* The Orioles are in serious discussions about a trade that would send catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder-utility man Ryan Freel and a mid-level prospect, according to sources.
The Orioles also would send cash to the Reds to help offset the difference in salaries. Freel, 32, who can play all three outfield positions and second and third base, is due to make $4 million next season, while Hernandez is owed $8 million in the last guaranteed year on his contract.
"There's been some discussions on different fronts," MacPhail said. "I wouldn't say there's nothing to it, but I have no idea - like a lot of trade discussions - of what the end result's going to be."
MacPhail said if Hernandez were traded, the team would try to acquire a veteran catcher. However, it still appears likely top prospect Matt Wieters will get every opportunity to win the starting catching job.
* It seems more and more like the Orioles are slowly fading to the periphery of the A.J. Burnett talks. MacPhail had discussions yesterday with Darek Braunecker, who represents the free-agent pitcher, but it was more a matter of touching base rather than any serious negotiations. Asked if his club were no longer in the hunt for Burnett, who lives in Monkton and pitched last year for the Toronto Blue Jays, MacPhail said, "From what you read, that's conceivable."
The Orioles aren't willing to give Burnett the five-year deal that he is seeking. The Orioles have had recent talks with Craig Landis, the agent for veteran right-hander Jon Garland. Landis told the Los Angeles Times yesterday that the Orioles are one of three teams that are in on Garland, part of the Angels rotation last year.
As of dinner time last night, MacPhail hadn't met with the agents for Japanese pitchers Kenshin Kawakami and Koji Uehara, but he expected to within the next couple of days. Asked by a member of the Japanese media whether Orioles fans were ready for a pitcher from the Far East, MacPhail said: "I think Baltimore fans are ready for pitchers who get people out."
Also on the starting pitching front, the Orioles have had numerous inquires about enigmatic right-hander Daniel Cabrera, according to sources. However most of the teams aren't offering much, knowing there is a possibility that the Orioles will nontender Cabrera.
Notes:: The Orioles have picked up contract negotiations on free agent Cesar Izturis, as the slick fielder remains their top shortstop target. ... Though San Diego general manager Kevin Towers wouldn't comment on the issue, the Orioles still are a potential third team to facilitate the Padres' trade of pitcher Jake Peavy to the Chicago Cubs. The Orioles have talked about sending Garrett Olson to Chicago in exchange for outfielder Felix Pie with Olson then heading to San Diego. ... The Orioles have expressed interest in free-agent left-handed reliever Will Ohman (Atlanta Braves). ... Guillermo Quiroz and Fredy Deza were outrighted to Triple-A, opening up two spots on the Orioles' 40-man roster. ... Trembley said though George Sherrill has a leg up on Chris Ray in securing the closer role, he didn't rule out the pair sharing closing duties.