LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Orioles came close to making another significant trade on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, but Tuesday's negotiations with the Rays -- which definitely involved Jason Bartlett and was rumored to include Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold -- fell through, according to a source close to the situation. The sides were rumored to be closing in on a deal Tuesday afternoon and a report on the Baltimore Sun's website -- which later cited reliever Alfredo Simon as possible trade bait -- said the clubs could have completed the deal within the day. A separate source told MLB.com that "no deal was imminent" and while the two teams were in serious discussions, the names and packages varied. As long as Bartlett remains with Tampa Bay, you can't completely rule out the Orioles as a landing spot, however -- according to one of the sources -- a trade with the Rays is now significantly less likely to happen. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said the team is not ruling out any option until that player is completely "off the board" and although he didn't comment specifically on the rumored Bartlett deal, he did confirm the Orioles are exploring all avenues.
"We are trying to do what we can about shortstops," MacPhail said. "And that includes Cesar [Izturis] and that includes others as well. So, we are just going to have to see how that plays out." The Orioles remain in contact with free agent Izturis, who was the team's shortstop last season, and they have also inquired about Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy. Manager Buck Showalter said in his Tuesday media session that while Izturis is still a possibility at shortstop, the team has had discussions about bringing Izturis back in a utility role. Given Brian Roberts' injury-plagued season the Orioles want insurance at second base, and Izturis' defense has been praised by Showalter, who is a big believe in run prevention. Both MacPhail and Showalter have hinted that the closest item could be to sign some relief help, with the Orioles believed to have several offers out to a group that includes Kevin Gregg, Jesse Crain, Grant Balfour, Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes, among others. They also feel good about their chances to retain Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara, and MacPhail said Tuesday night that he felt better about Uehara's situation than he had just that morning, making it plausible that the teams are closing in on an agreement. In looking at first base, the Orioles are still believed to be sifting through free-agent corner infielders Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee, although reports that the team is close to signing any of those three are premature. With Pena's asking price to high right now, the Orioles are looking harder at LaRoche and Lee. "We are trying [to get things done], but you just know what other people's timetables are," MacPhail said. "If you look at the history of these meetings, a lot of times these guys will go back, collect all the information, meet with their clients and make their decision next week after the Meetings. So we don't really control the time frame."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.