Teixeira, Burnett on Orioles' radar
MacPhail to meet with representatives of both free agents
LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles are getting mixed signals regarding their pursuit of two major free agents, coloring the first day of the Winter Meetings in a shade of gray. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations, said Monday that he isn't quite sure where he sits with either Mark Teixeira or A.J. Burnett at this point.
"You get different reads," MacPhail said, speaking generally about transactions at this time of year. "Sometimes, if you're talking trades, you don't know exactly where the other club is and what options they have. If you're talking free agents, you know, it's the same thing with their representatives. They could pick up a phone, theoretically, and you could do something or nothing could happen. That's a long-winded way of saying we don't know for certain, but we've had conversations. We're trying to move things along, but they generally move at their own pace."
MacPhail hasn't met with the representatives for either Teixeira or Burnett as of the first day, but he said he anticipates doing so before the end of the week. The Orioles do know where Texieria stands, though, thanks to a face-to-face meeting between the first baseman, agent Scott Boras and MacPhail late last week.
Teixeira, a native of Baltimore suburb Severna Park, Md., apparently spent most of the tete-a-tete grilling MacPhail about the future of the organization, and the executive said one thing he didn't have to do was sell him on Baltimore.
"That's one thing, in this particular case, that really wasn't [part of it]," he said. "What we had a right to understand -- and 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 try to do it [and] how much progress we've made in the last year-and-a-half in that regard."
The Orioles have done some growing under MacPhail's watch, adding center fielder Adam Jones and getting potential franchise catcher Matt Wieters under contract and through the lower levels of the organization. Now, with Teixeira, the club sees a player who could help end its rebuilding program and start Baltimore toward contention.
MacPhail wasn't willing to handicap his chances in landing Teixeira, but it's clear he still believes he's in the race.
"I think we'd be reluctant to characterize the tenor of our negotiations," said MacPhail, issuing a stock statement that he utters several times a winter. "I just don't know how well that would help our cause. Obviously, I wasn't volunteering I met with him until you asked me directly. And I couldn't figure out a way to get out of it."
As for Burnett, one of the hottest names on the pitching market, things are a little different. Several reports have indicated that the right-hander may be nearing an agreement with the Atlanta Braves, and MacPhail said that he's spoken to agent Darek Braunecker about the situation but isn't sure where he stands.
"From what you read, that's conceivable," he said of the Orioles slipping from contention. "I don't know."
MacPhail went on to say that he spoke to Braunecker on the phone Monday and hopes to meet with him in person before the week is out, but he wasn't certain that anything would be resolved by the end of the Meetings.
"You've got to have a couple of those big dominoes fall, and then some other thing's going to fall," he said of Burnett, perhaps referencing the case of CC Sabathia. "We gave them a sense of where we were and the things that were influencing us -- what our circumstances might look like and what's impacting our decisions."
Finally, MacPhail said that his plan doesn't have to remain rigid. Moments after citing the military axiom that the plan never survives first contact with the enemy, MacPhail made it clear that he'd like to be flexible.
"I think you can react to the market, and maybe that influences things different than you thought," he said. "If you see a different opportunity there that may not have been there otherwise, you should look into it. We're not dogmatic about our plan. ... We're not dogmatically walking down this path independent of what else goes on around us."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.