BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles have already surpassed their projected budget for the 2011 season, so what's the harm in coughing up a few million bucks for free agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero?
That's the approach being taken by president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who has dramatically changed Baltimore's roster this offseason in an effort to end the team's franchise-record run of 13 consecutive losing seasons.
MacPhail confirmed Saturday that the Orioles have submitted an offer to Guerrero, who last season hit .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs for the AL champion Texas Rangers.
When told that fans and the local media were wondering about the possibility of adding Guerrero, MacPhail replied, "We're wondering, too, to some degree."
It's already been a hectic offseason for MacPhail, who decided against playing a pat hand despite Baltimore's 34-23 finish in 2010 under new manager Buck Showalter.
First, MacPhail obtained third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona for right-handed relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Then he got shortstop J.J. Hardy and infielder Brendan Harris from Minnesota for minor league right-handers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.
MacPhail followed those deals by signing free agent first baseman Derreck Lee and closer Kevin Gregg.
"We're happy with where we are," MacPhail said, "but we still have some active conversations and we'll just see where those go."
Which means he isn't done spending on behalf of owner Peter Angelos.
"I've already exceeded the number that Peter and I focused on at the end of last year by several million, and he's continued to encourage me to continue to look and see what's available out there," MacPhail said.
MacPhail never expected Lee or Guerrero to be available this late in the offseason. Lee signed a one-year deal for $7.25 million on Jan. 6 and Guerrero still hasn't decided where he will spend the 2011 season.
"We've had conversations that maybe we would not have anticipated this time of year, but you're trying to take advantage of those things that the market offers you," MacPhail said.
When second baseman Brian Roberts comes to spring training camp next month, he will be the only incumbent in the starting infield.
"I've been through a lot of infielders the last nine years ... but I've never had a transition where nobody was left," Roberts said. "For the most part it's an all new infield."