With at least seven teams vying for the attention of free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano, the Orioles have secured a Dec. 6 visit with the right-hander and his representative at Camden Yards.
Pavano and agent Scott Shapiro are expected to spend two nights in Baltimore before heading West in conjunction with baseball's winter meetings in Anaheim, Calif., from Dec. 10-13. Pavano already has visited Boston, where he dined with pitcher Curt Schilling, and he'll make stops in Detroit and New York (to meet with the Yankees) beginning Thursday.
After sitting down with the Orioles, Pavano and Shapiro will fly to Seattle and Anaheim. Pavano eventually will return to Montreal to continue his offseason workouts.
Though the market's pace is expected to remain sluggish for some of the upper-tier free agents who aren't in any hurry to sign, Shapiro indicated that Pavano could choose a team by the conclusion of the winter meetings. The Florida Marlins offered him $21 million over three years, but many baseball insiders predict he'll land a four-year deal.
"We're hoping that he'll be ready to make a decision while we're there," Shapiro said.
The Red Sox emerged as an early favorite to sign Pavano, but Shapiro said his client still sees the Orioles as a good fit.
"Nothing has changed," he said. "Carl's interest is exactly the same. He's excited about the visit. He's learning about each and every one of these teams."
Pavano, who was 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA for the Marlins last season, most likely will meet with majority owner Peter Angelos, team executives Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, and pitching coach Ray Miller.
"He'll get all the questions answered that he needs answered," Shapiro said. "I can tell you that Baltimore has been very serious in terms of their interest and they're looking to have Carl be one of the players that helps them become very competitive in probably the toughest division in baseball.
"Hopefully he'll be armed and comfortable with the fact that he can make a decision during the winter meetings."
The Orioles want to sign at least one front-line starter, perhaps trade for another and lower Sidney Ponson in the rotation. They haven't made any formal offers to a major free agent.