The MLB Winter Meetings start Monday, as representatives from each team will meet in Nashville to discuss trades and hold the Rule 5 Draft among other things.
Last season's Winter Meetings were pretty uneventful for the Orioles, as opposing teams were only interested in talking to the O's about Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. Obviously, the O's weren't interested in trading either of their top-two prospects.
This year could be different. Teams will still be asking for Bundy and Machado, but the O's may be willing to trade other players to open up roster space for some young talent. Here are four Orioles who could possibly be traded either at the Winter Meetings or sometime prior to the beginning of the season.
One big-name Oriole who is expendable is J.J. Hardy.
The veteran shortstop has been exceptional in the field since coming to Baltimore two seasons ago, even winning the Gold Glove award last season. However, after a very nice season at the plate in 2011, his performance last year left much to be desired. A .238 average, with only 22 homers and 68 RBI in 158 games in 2012 was a massive decline in production from his performance the previous year when he hit 30 homers and batted .269 in only 129 games.
With the addition of Manny Machado to the everyday lineup, Hardy becomes somewhat tradeable, as Macahdo is naturally a shortstop. If the Orioles do decide to trade Hardy, they must find a viable replacement at third base.
Wilson Betemit is the only current option at third if Hardy does go, which would be a downgrade. Mark Reynolds could also be an option, but he has shown he's much better at first and is currently a free agent. So if Hardy does get traded, expect the O's to either sign a legitimate third baseman or trade for one.
The O's former Opening Day starter could also be used as trade bait.
The 26-year-old has been inconsistent since his original call-up in 2010 but has shown potential. On Opening Day last year, Arrieta pitched seven scoreless innings and held the Twins to two hits. He was then mediocre until his first start in May, when he went eight scoreless against the Yankees in New York. After that start, however, it was all downhill.
Struggling with command all season, Arrieta was eventually demoted to Triple-A in July, only to return to the majors in September for some relief work. He finished the year 3-9 with a 6.20 ERA.
Despite these numbers, Arrieta still holds some trade value. He has good stuff, as he struck out nearly a batter per inning in 2012. Arrieta also cut down on walks last year, but that doesn't necessarily mean his command greatly improved; he just threw more hittable pitches.
Arrieta isn't likely to make the Orioles' rotation next season, and his youth and potential make him a good candidate to get traded.
Zach Britton is in the same boat as Arrieta. He has a good, young arm with solid potential, but he may not make the Orioles' rotation in 2013. Britton does have more of a shot than Arrieta to make the rotation, but he also makes for solid trade bait.
The lefty started out 2011 on fire, going 4-1, with an ERA under three in his first five starts of his career. Since then, Britton has been inconsistent.
In 2012, the 24-year-old spent much of the season on the DL or in the minors. He did go 5-3 with the O's but had a mediocre 5.07 ERA.
Before Dylan Bundy, Britton was perhaps the O's top pitching prospect. So if the Orioles do ship Britton, they will expect something good in return.
For a team needing starting pitching, the Orioles have a lot of young pitchers who they could trade.
The 26-year-old Hunter struggled as a starter last season and was often demoted and recalled to and from Triple-A Norfolk. He was moved to the bullpen for good in September and pitched terrific, going 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA.
Out of minor league options, Hunter is now more expendable. He has shown solid potential with both the Orioles and the Rangers, as he went 13-4 in 2010 with Texas, so he does hold a decent amount of trade value. Perhaps not as much value as Britton or even Arrieta, but some nonetheless.
The Orioles have others they are willing to trade if given the right deal. However, it is unlikely that anybody will be busting down doors trying to get veterans like Brian Roberts and Wilson Betemit.