INDIANAPOLIS — - The Orioles are expected to take the next step in their wooing of free-agent pitcher and Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman next week when international scouting director John Stockstill travels to Houston to meet with the pitcher's agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks.
Stockstill and Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail also met with the Hendricks brothers Tuesday, the second day of the winter meetings. It was the Orioles' first extensive opportunity to express their interest to the Hendricks brothers, who became Chapman's agents after the pitcher left Edwin Mejia last month.
"They are sort of starting and collecting the information for themselves at this point," MacPhail said. "I think that process has sort of restarted. They're just starting to get their feet on the ground. They kind of have to get up to speed."
Stockstill, who met with Chapman and Mejia on Oct. 30 in New York, said nothing that the club has heard in its talks involving the player has discouraged the Orioles from moving forward with the hard-throwing left-hander.
"It's a process that has to take its course," Stockstill said. "I can't really give you a time frame when they'll be comfortable moving forward."
Don't assume that the Orioles are no longer in the market for a free-agent starting pitcher just because they have acquired veteran Kevin Millwood
. It's probably more likely now that they would make a play for a high-risk, high-reward pitcher like former Oriole Erik Bedard
, MacPhail acknowledged after completing the trade.
"We're still in the pitching business," MacPhail said. "I don't think with the first move, we could afford to have that kind of risk. Now, we have some latitude to take a flyer."
The Japanese media covering the winter meetings are understandably interested in how the Orioles will use pitcher Koji Uehara
next season. MacPhail, during a television interview with Tokyo-TV, would not rule out Uehara's returning to the starting rotation but made it pretty clear that the right-hander is more likely to end up in a bullpen role.
One and done?
MacPhail will leave Indianapolis and head home this evening, satisfied that he has addressed one of his top priorities. The Orioles have more moves to make this offseason, but MacPhail said it is unlikely they will make another one at the winter meetings.