The Orioles retained outfielder Nate McLouth on a one-year deal following an unexpected strong finish last season and now they’d like to bring him back for 2014.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are interested in re-signing McLouth and have talked with his representatives since the free-agent signing period began. However, the thought is that they’ll likely have to give him a multi-year deal this time around, especially after David DeJesus and Marlon Byrd each got two year deals in recent days.
McLouth, who turned 32 last month, batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI this season while going 30-for-37 in stolen base attempts. His production dropped off considerably during the second half and he did very little damage against southpaws, but the door for a return is open in part because prospect Henry Urrutia might not be ready for a full-time gig in left field to begin 2014.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”