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Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

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Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels added starter Joe Blanton and reliever Sean Burnett to their retooled pitching staff. Jeff Keppinger found a new home, as did Eric Chavez.

The big deals, meanwhile, remained on deck at baseball's winter meetings.

Jason Bay, Randy Choate, Nate Schierholtz and a diamond full of players wound up in different places Wednesday, while top contenders waited for a pair of free-agent prizes to make their decisions.

The lone trade was minor, with Detroit sending left-hander Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh for a young catcher.

Former MVP Josh Hamilton and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke remained in play. They're the driving forces in this market and depending on where they go more moves are likely to follow.

Texas would like to re-sign Hamilton, at the right price. The slugger was in Nashville this week but has left, and his agent met with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels on Tuesday night.

``Obviously, one of the bigger dominoes,'' Daniels said. ``Trying to get the first one to fall.''

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey keeps drawing attention. He lives near the Opryland Hotel and dropped in for a visit, though there's no change in his situation. Signed for next season, he wants a new contract, while several clubs, including Boston, want to trade for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

In the meantime, some deals loomed. No telling if any of them will get done before the meetings end Thursday with the Rule 5 draft for players left off 40-man rosters.

``We wondered if one of the guys went off, (if) it would speed up. We'll see,'' Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said. ``It seems like it may be moving a little bit.''

Also in the mix: Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, amid speculation Arizona is trying to get him in a multi-team swap.

All-Star third baseman David Wright of the New York Mets became the first player to step up to the brightly lit podium in the press room. Standing at the spot where trades and signings are usually announced, his appearance was expected.

Wright was in town to talk about his $138 million, eight-year contract, the largest in team history. The lifetime .301 hitter is a six-time All-Star and turns 30 in two weeks. A Mets fan growing up, Wright said he wanted to spend his entire career with the club.

``I've never pictured myself in a different uniform,'' he said.

``It just feels like there's so much unfinished business and I'd like to finish what I've started,'' he added. ``Honestly, it wouldn't mean as much to me winning somewhere else as it would obviously winning here.''

Away from the dais where Wright spoke, inside the suites at the sprawling 2,881-room hotel, several players changed jerseys.

Keppinger agreed with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no announcement.

The versatile infielder hit .325 with a career-high nine home runs and 40 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season. At 32, the well-traveled Keppinger is known for making contact and has more walks than strikeouts during his eight-year career with the Rays, San Francisco, Houston, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the Mets.

Keppinger is likely to play third base for the White Sox. Kevin Youkilis finished the season at that spot for Chicago last season, then became a free agent. The New York Yankees and Arizona also had been interested in Keppinger.

Arizona wound up with Chavez, giving the corner infielder a $3 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The 34-year-old Chavez hit .281 with 16 homers in 278 at-bats for the Yankees, seeing time at first base, third base and designated hitter. The six-time Gold Glove winner lives in the Phoenix area.

Bay and the Seattle Mariners agreed on a one-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiation said. The 34-year-old outfielder is hoping to resurrect his career with the Mariners after three disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Mets.

St. Louis signed Choate for its bullpen and the Chicago Cubs closed in on a deal to put Schierholtz in their outfield.

Baltimore kept outfielder Nate McLouth and Colorado re-signed pitcher Jeff Francis.

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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USA Today Sports

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.