Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail left baseball's general manager meetings in Chicago on Wednesday and headed to Arizona, where he will convene the organization's pro scouting department to discuss the club's offseason options.
The concluded GM meetings, a scaled-down version held at an O'Hare International Airport hotel, gave Orioles executives an opportunity to begin trade discussions in what MacPhail hopes will be an active offseason.
"It was a shorter meeting than is customary, but those things that were first on the list, we were able to accomplish," said MacPhail, who attended the meetings with special assistant Wayne Krivsky and director of baseball operations Matt Klentak. "There was time to talk to a few clubs, and I think we got the basics accomplished. I think we explored the things that we needed to explore, but I never got the feeling we were close to doing anything."
MacPhail declined to identify which teams he met with, saying only "several." He said he plans to go over the players discussed in the trade talks in meetings with his pro scouts over the next couple of days.
MacPhail also acknowledged that Orioles executives met with the representatives of a "few" free agents at the GM meetings. Teams aren't allowed to sign other clubs' free agents until Nov. 20.
That's a big reason much of the discussion emanating from the meetings was of potential trades, including the availability of several third basemen in whom the Orioles have interest at the right price. FoxSports.com first reported Wednesday that the Orioles and San Francisco Giants are pursuing Florida Marlins infielder Dan Uggla, who had 30 or more homers and 90 or more RBIs in three of his four seasons.
Uggla, 29, is a right-handed hitter and a natural second baseman, but the Orioles would acquire him to take over third, a position he has never played in the majors. The Marlins, who will owe Uggla a raise from his $5.35 million salary in arbitration if they keep him, are looking for young pitching in return.
The Colorado Rockies have made available third baseman Garrett Atkins, who had a miserable 2009 season, hitting .226 with nine homers and 48 RBIs. However, Atkins, also a right-handed hitter, averaged 25 homers and 110 RBIs the previous three seasons. While the Orioles have some interest in the 29-year-old, they are more likely to wait and see whether he is non-tendered rather than give up talent to acquire him.
MacPhail would not comment Wednesday on any specific players but reiterated that he doesn't plan to trade any of the organization's top prospects for short-term solutions.
"I just don't see us giving up a young and talented player for a short-term fix," MacPhail said. "If we give up a young and talented player and fill a different position that we thought was a greater need going forward, that would be something we'd consider. But I don't see us giving up somebody we see as a core guy for a one- or two-year guy."
The Orioles are seeking both a first and a third baseman, and hope at least one of them will hit in the middle of the order. They want to add a veteran starter, and former Oriole Erik Bedard is among the pitchers being discussed. They also are looking to upgrade the bullpen, though some team officials would be comfortable starting the season with Koji Uehara as the closer.
At this point, it appears that the third base vacancy would be the easiest to fill. Not only are Uggla and Atkins available, but the Orioles also have interest in free agents Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa and Pedro Feliz. Asked about filling the third base position, MacPhail said: "I think there will be adequate supply to meet the demand. It will be interesting."
NOTES: : MacPhail said he has yet to talk to Joe Urbon, the representative for free-agent pitcher Mark Hendrickson, but he expects to have conversations with him before the Orioles' exclusive negotiating window ends next Thursday. ... The Orioles have still not made an offer for Cuban free-agent pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who met with international scouting director John Stockstill on Oct. 30. ... Center fielder Adam Jones lost a tiebreaker for the last Super 2 salary arbitration spot, meaning he won't be eligible to have his pay decided by a panel until after the 2010 season. Reliever Matt Albers earned Super 2 status.