Orioles manager Buck Showalter, in his annual media availability at the winter meetings, played a quick-fire game of rumor-mill roundup and said the club has discussed several players among the slew of those the team has been connected to.
With the caveat that executive vice president Dan Duquette could be working quietly on some players, Showalter shot down any interest in a trade for New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner and Seattle Mariners outfielder Seth Smith, as well as free-agent slugger Chris Carter.
But before he got to the rumors, he referred to an old fable when discussing how he handles all of the Orioles’ rivals making big splashes in December.
“Sometimes, we have selective memory,” Showalter said. “I know I try to. This went on last year to some extent, the year before. Whether it’s the Yankees or whether it’s the Red Sox or Blue Jays, it’s part of the job description in our division. I was thinking about it today. It’s like that tortoise and hare story. We’re kind of the tortoise in winter meetings. Sometimes we catch up to the hare.”
In the wide-ranging, 25-minute session, Showalter hit all the usual points. He said the team expects to take at least one player in the Rule 5 draft Thursday, and will be active in the minor league phase as well. He didn’t rule out a reunion with the Orioles' own free agents, including catcher Matt Wieters, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and right fielder Mark Trumbo.
He also mentioned that teams were calling the Orioles about their surplus of starting pitchers. In addition to their six returning starters from the September rotation, he mentioned Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson and Chris Lee as rotation depth.
There was a lot of talk about the outfield, naturally. On center fielder Adam Jones, Showalter said there were no plans to move him to right field to accommodate a center fielder brought in via trade or free agency. He stopped short of saying that last year’s Rule 5 pick, Joey Rickard, showed enough in his injury-shortened 2016 season to be counted on as an everyday player this year. Showalter said he believes Rickard showed enough, but a new set of pressures and expectations can impact players in their second seasons.
Showalter is hopeful that left fielder Hyun Soo Kim, with one year in the United States under his belt, enjoys a much better 2017 season. Showalter even mentioned Kim as a possibility to play right field, and said the team will support him fully if he decides to participate in the World Baseball Classic for South Korea.
Showalter indicated Kim is under a lot of pressure to play, but given his nightmarish spring training a season ago, there’s some value in remaining with the team. The final rosters will not be announced until Feb. 6.
On his returning players, Showalter said Chris Davis is willing to play anywhere the team needs, but they don’t want him to have to move to the outfield. And to a question about third baseman Manny Machado only having two years of team control left, Showalter quipped that his own contract was up at the same time.
“Timing is everything,” Showalter joked. “Manny’s not going to be here? There’s your answer. If he goes, I go — there’s a headline.”