Orioles remain interested in Manny

Are the Orioles in on Manny Ramirez? Well, they have some interest, especially given that they’d like to add a veteran bat before Spring Training and the free agency pool has all but dried up.

Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reported earlier Friday that Ramirez is deciding between the O’s, Athletics and Blue Jays. But how serious is the Orioles’ interest in Manny? I don’t know, and it’s tough for anyone to say accurately at this point. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette –who had Ramirez while GM in Boston– hasn’t ruled out the scenario all offseason, which is why I’m hesitant to do so now.

To recap, Ramirez will face a 50-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy should he sign a new contract and play in 2012.  Working in his favor is he would come at a cheaper cost than any other older DH-type on the market, such as Johnny Damon.  But he also comes with significant drawbacks. In addition to the suspension, Ramirez typically brings a media circus, and I’m not sure how that style (the whole “Manny being Manny” mantra) would play out with manager Buck Showalter. And then there’s the question of performance: how much does Manny have left in the tank? The Orioles saw firsthand last year with Vladimir Guerrero that a veteran past his prime isn’t exactly the exciting cleanup hitter they need.

With just about two weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, all signs point to Ramirez making a decision soon.

–Brittany Ghiroli

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