Dodgers flaunt status as game's new spending king

Orioles in pursuit: Hamilton to the Orioles?

Probably not, but that was one of the more plausible Hamilton rumors coming out of the general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Calif.

Going back to the 1993 decision to avoid Will Clark — a move that would lead to Rafael Palmeiro's five-season run in Baltimore, highlighted by back-to-back trips to the league championship series — owner Peter Angelos has been as finicky about the free agents he would sign as anyone in baseball.

Would he abandon those principles to take on the biggest free-agent question mark in history?

Fox Sports wrote last week that the Orioles were targeting Hamilton and Cody Ross to fill their need in left field. The Rangers seem ambivalent about keeping Hamilton.

What if the Orioles could get Hamilton for four years at $20 million a year? That would break Miguel Tejada's franchise record, and it might make them a favorite to win the American League East. Would they overlook the risks?

The Orioles improved more than any team in the majors last season, going from 69-93 in 2011 to 93-69 in Dan Duquette's first season as general manager. They were one victory short of going to the ALCS.

But Duquette knows that they need to win again in 2013 to suggest that there could be a new order to the AL East. That's why he is considering aggressive acquisitions — they have talked about trading pitching for Royals' designated hitter Billy Butler — while deciding what to do about a glut of 15 arbitration-eligible players.

"We'll have to go out and (win) again next year,'' Duquette said.

It helps the Orioles that little is going right for the Yankees and Red Sox these days.

The last word: "It's a mistake I have to live with for the rest of my life. I have to deal with never, ever getting into the Hall of Fame, and I totally understand and totally respect (voters') opinion and I will never ever push it. That is the way it's going to be and I can live with it.'' — Newly hired Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire on his use of steroids as a player.

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

CHICAGO

More