Sitting comfortably on the couch of his hotel room, Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President Mike Flanagan did not look like a stressed man or one on the verge of making a deal. The majority of the Orioles' front office arrived at their hotel at baseball's winter meetings in the late afternoon on Monday and their first task was to set up a slew of meetings that will likely determine the course of their offseason.
"We're going to have a lot of meetings scheduled," Flanagan said. "We could meet with eight or nine clubs tomorrow."
One area in this year's fluctuating free agent front that seems to favor the Orioles is in regards to catchers. There appears to be a surplus of quality players but a lack of needy teams. With the New York Mets acquiring catcher Paul Lo Duca from the Florida Marlins, catchers Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez must find new suitors. While catching is not an urgent need for Baltimore, the Orioles are thinking it won't take an obscene amount of money to land either Molina or Hernandez, both quality players. Such a move would mean that Javy Lopez would see significant time at first base and as the designated hitter, something Flanagan said the catcher wouldn't have a problem with.
"I think there is a curiosity to see what is developing with the catcher market," Flanagan said.
Alan Nero, agent for Molina, said there was nothing new to report with his client, but added, "We're open to setting up something but we haven't done that yet."
Eric Goldschmidt, agent for Hernandez, said of the Orioles, "They are one of the teams in the mix."
On Monday the Orioles, according to one National League source, contacted the Arizona Diamondbacks to inquire about pitcher Javier Vazquez and infielder Troy Glaus. A trade for Vazquez is unlikely, since he can reject a trade to the Orioles per his limited no-trade clause. But acquiring Glaus is certainly an option for a team in need of a power hitter. Last season Glaus, a third baseman who would likely be moved to first base if acquired by Baltimore, hit .258 with 37 home runs and 97 RBI. The Diamondbacks, who signed the third baseman to a four-year, $45 million deal prior to last season, are looking to shed his contract. Gene Casaleggio, one of Glaus's agents, said his client would be open to moving to first if dealt to the Orioles.
"We haven't talked about it specifically," Casaleggio said, "but perhaps if traded that would be a possibility."
Of the various deals that have been linked to the Orioles, Flanagan said Baltimore has not had any discussions recently with the Mets about Kris Benson, they have not spoken to the Florida Marlins about Juan Pierre, haven't had any discussions with agent Darek Braunecker about A.J. Burnett and aren't in serious discussions about free agent closer Todd Jones.
An intriguing option at the closer spot, Flanagan said, could be former Oakland A's pitcher Octavio Dotel, who missed most of last season after having ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow. The Orioles executive said he had spoken to Dotel's agent.
Flanagan said he also expects to speak this week with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays regarding first baseman Aubrey Huff and agent Arn Tellem regarding Nomar Garciaparra.
A meeting with agent Scott Boras looms sometime this week. Boras represents pitchers Kevin Millwood, Jarrod Washburn and center fielder Johnny Damon.
"I'm certain we'll meet with him in the next few days," Flanagan said.
Those discussions are likely to be interesting, since it has been said that owner Peter Angelos has a strong dislike for Boras. But Flanagan said he hasn't been discouraged to deal with Boras.
"We've never had any restrictions put on us in terms of representation of players," Flanagan said.
In any deal, Flanagan said he did not expect to trade pitcher Erik Bedard, who has been rumored to go to Philadelphia in exchange for Bobby Abreu. Flanagan said a deal for Abreu is unlikely, though, since Baltimore is not willing to send Bedard.
"I don't think we're in a position to mortgage the future," Flanagan said, "unless you think that the short-term fix could put you over the top."