It is the time of year for rumors and innuendo, insinuations and fabrications. With that in mind, here are five players the Orioles might try to acquire in trades at the winter meetings:
* NO. 1. CLEVELAND OUTFIELDER CORY SNYDER. This one already has been discussed. The Indians are actively shopping Snyder, who has been in steady decline since his 33-homer, 82-RBI season in 1987. They want pitching in return.
The Orioles would appear to be a good fit -- and it doesn't hurt that Cleveland president Hank Peters reportedly has interest in rookie first baseman David Segui, a member of his last draft class in Baltimore.
Still, there are questions about whether Peters would be willing to make a major trade with his former club. And Atlanta -- also deep in young pitching -- is one of several teams trying to land Snyder, 28.
* NO. 2. KANSAS CITY OUTFIELDER DANNY TARTABULL. The Orioles tried to acquire him at last year's winter meetings, but balked at the Royals' asking price -- pitcher Pete Harnisch and third baseman Craig Worthington.
Tartabull, 28, might again be available -- if the Royals sign free agent Kirk Gibson, and if they don't trade Bo Jackson. This time, however, the Orioles might not be the right match. The Royals need a second baseman and lefthanded middle reliever.
Then again, their thinking might change if they lose free-agent relievers Steve Crawford and Andy McGaffigan, both of whom are righthanded. In that case the Royals definitely would need a bullpen replacement for Steve Farr. How about Mark Williamson?
* NO. 3. CHICAGO CUBS RELIEVER MITCH WILLIAMS. A year ago, the original "Wild Thing" was coming off a 36-save season, and considered untouchable. But Williams struggled in 1990 (1-8, 3.93, 16 saves). The Cubs reportedly are ready to field offers.
The Orioles, anxious to add a hard-throwing lefthander to their bullpen, automatically would have interest. They can't satisfy the Cubs' need for a power-hitting outfielder, but they could offer a third baseman -- Worthington or Leo Gomez -- in addition to pitching.
The Cubs expressed interest in Gomez last season. They have a top third-base prospect in Gary Scott, but he is at least two
years away. In any case, the Orioles figure to talk with the Cubs, who also might shop righthander Mike Bielecki, a Baltimore native.
* NO. 4. NEW YORK METS LEFTHANDER BOB OJEDA. He turns 33 this month, and he started only 12 times last season. Still, the Orioles might have interest if they fail to sign free-agent lefthander Matt Young.
The Mets are expected to sign free agent Vince Coleman to play left, but they still will try to add a setup man and lefthanded-hitting outfielder. Williamson fits the first description, Steve Finley the second. But not so fast.
The Mets probably want a bigger name in the outfield -- say, California's Devon White. They inquired about Williamson and Finley at last year's winter meetings, but the only transaction between the clubs was a minor-league deal that landed the Orioles pitcher John Mitchell.
* NO. 5. TEXAS OUTFIELDER PETE INCAVIGLIA. For all his faults (defense, strikeouts and the like), Incaviglia has averaged 25 homers and 78 RBIs in five major-league seasons. The Orioles could use such a player, but they aren't likely to get this one.
Oh, the Rangers are willing to deal Inky, all right. Problem is, the Orioles probably won't be able to meet their needs (catching, pitching) unless they re-sign Mickey Tettleton. And if that's the case, why would they want to add another 150-strikeout man?
Bob Melvin would fit nicely with the Rangers, but it will take considerably more than that to land Incaviglia, who might wind up with the Cubs.