Going forward, O's are all in for Teixeira
Baltimore leaves Meetings without slugger, but hope's alive
LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles will leave Las Vegas without A.J. Burnett and without Mark Teixeira, but it's not for lack of effort. Baltimore worked the phones and the free agents hard at the Winter Meetings, but it wasn't able to come to an agreement with either of its top two targets -- a fact as easily attributed to the state of the open market as it is to anything else.
"You really don't have all of the information, so you don't know," said MacPhail. "[The media] can speculate on whatever, based on what they hear. But we don't know exactly where the process stands, and I'd imagine that it's not over until it's over. We haven't been told we're not [still in it]. Until we're told we're not, we don't have any reason to believe we're not."
Most media reports have the Teixeira derby down to four teams -- the Orioles, Nationals, Red Sox and Angels. MacPhail said that he respects the process and knows that Teixeira and agent Scott Boras will choose the offer that's best for them, and he also said that if there's a legitimate interest from the other side, then there's no reason the talks won't continue.
As for their other needs, the Orioles remain interested in Japanese free agents Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami among many other pitchers, and MacPhail said he will continue to cast his line wherever he might get a bite.
"I would think that they're in a process of trying to determine their market," MacPhail said, referring to Uehara and Kawakami. "You have to remember, as a practical matter, this is like one-stop shopping for their representatives. They have all 30 clubs underneath one building. It's a relatively efficient way for them to go to room to room and try to get a sense for what each club is prepared to do. After they get back, they sort of go through all the information and try to figure out what their best play is. Generally, a few days after these Meetings, you'll get a better sense of what their appetite is regarding your club."
The Orioles also need a catcher, and they got a pleasant surprise when the Marlins released Matt Treanor. Baltimore had already expressed interest in Treanor and will likely pursue a contract with him in the next few weeks.
"We'd had conversations with the Marlins regarding Matt," said MacPhail. "We were talking to them, anticipating that it might be a non-tender, [but] I think we were surprised by the release. Prior to the Rule 5 [Draft], to clear a roster spot, you can understand in retrospect why it was done. I imagine that's someone we'll continue to have conversations with going forward."
Deals done: The Orioles traded Ramon Hernandez and approximately $2 million to the Reds for Ryan Freel and prospects Brandon Waring and Justin Turner. Baltimore also agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $6 million with shortstop Cesar Izturis, who will undergo a physical examination next week before making the deal official.
Rule 5 activity: Baltimore took catcher Lou Palmisano with the fifth pick and then turned around and traded him to Houston for undisclosed cash considerations. The Orioles also lost Rocky Cherry to the Mets and drafted three players -- shortstop Robert Valido and pitchers Josh Perrault and Andrew Bard -- in the Minor League phase of the Draft.
Goals accomplished: The Orioles will leave the Winter Meetings content with the Hernandez trade and with reaching an agreement to terms with Izturis, who could help fix one of the team's biggest problem spots from last season. By shedding Hernandez, Baltimore opened up the position for top prospect Matt Wieters to inherit early in the year.
Unfinished business: Baltimore will continue to search through the pitching market and will also try to ink a veteran catcher who can start for the first month and tutor Wieters for the rest of the season. Treanor and Gregg Zaun appear to be the leading candidates in that latter category, but the pitching situation is still a bit tenuous.
"I don't think you ever feel confident there's enough starting pitching," said MacPhail. "There isn't in the industry. ... I'm satisfied that we did those things at [these Meetings] that you have to do to get your hat in the ring."
GM's bottom line: "We're happy with where we are at shortstop. We think that's a real good outcome for us. What happens with Mark Teixeira, we're just going to have to see over time. I think there were only three or four trades here, and we were part of that. ... There were other conversations that we found worthwhile that might help us going forward." -- MacPhail
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.