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Orioles Could Be Close to Khalil Greene Trade

Remember Marc's excellent post breaking down Baltimore's need for a shortstop? Well, they might be getting a lot closer to adding one, and doing it way below the radar, while they're at it.

According to a report leaking out from Joel Sherman of the New York Post just minutes ago, the Padres are very close to offloading shortstop Khalil Greene, with freeing themselves of a $6.5 million salary the primary motivation behind a deal. The Padres are trying to get back down to a payroll near $40 million, which is why they aren't even trying to re-sign longtime San Diego closer and all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman and are desperate to dump Greene's salary. According to Sherman's sources, Greene will all but certainly be moved before the GM Meetings open Monday in Las Vegas.

As slow as the offseason market has been, the market for shortstops has been creeping along even slower. There's a small group of teams interesting in adding an infield 6, with the Orioles, Giants and Cardinals right at the top of the list.

Of those three teams, the Giants appear very close to adding free agent Edgar Renteria, with substantial progress being made hour-by-hour, according to Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, and San Francisco Chronicle Giants beat writer Henry Schulman reports that a deal with Renteria could come as soon as tomorrow. Indeed, Giants GM Brian Sabean isn't doing anything to dissuade that hype, saying that the team hopes to add an infielder this week. Where there's this much smoke, there's fire, so we'll probably see Renteria at a press conference in the Bay Area sooner rather than later.

That, of course, would take the Giants out of the mix for Greene, which would in turn make him an easier get for the Orioles, who would likely be vying for him against the Cardinals. Greene's certainly not a perfect fix -- he swooned to a meager .213 batting average and 10 homers last year after his best power year in 2007; he knocked 27 out in '07.

Granted, those numbers came largely in one of the most defensive ballparks in the game, San Diego's Petco Park, but they're still not eye-openers. What can be eye opening is Greene's defense. The 29-year-old Clemson grad is good for at least two Baseball Tonight web gems a week, with his range surprising for a player of such average size (Greene checks in at 5-11 and 210 pounds).

Regardless, it's hard not to see Greene as a significant upgrade over what the Orioles have used at shortstop since sending Miguel Tejada on his way. The question is only whether Greene would be worth the cost, both in terms of contract and players traded in return. The Padres have quite openly been pining for Garrett Olson, which is why the Birds emerged as a third team in a potential Jake Peavy trade with the Cubs. Obviously, if Baltimore traded Olson for Greene, that would make it a lot harder for them to match up with both the Cubs and Padres for a Peavy trade, but it wouldn't be impossible (it's also worth noting that Padres GM Kevin Towers is now saying that he's had contact with two potential matches for the third team in the Peavy equation).

A couple weeks ago, the Orioles turned down an offer for a straight-up trade, Greene for Olson. It's hard to see them deviating from that stand now, so it'll be interesting to see what else they can dredge up that might make the Padres bite.

More importantly, what do people think about Greene as an Oriole? Would he be a good fit to fill the organization's shortstop void? Or is Baltimore better off targeting a free agent option like Cesar Izturis, who would probably earn a similar amount but might take a longer commitment; this is the final year of Greene's contract, for better and worse. The Birds have definitely talked with Izturis' agent, it's just a matter of how far the sides are in terms of years and dollars in any potential contract there.

By Cameron Smith  |  December 3, 2008; 9:52 PM ET
Categories:  Cardinals , Orioles , Padres  
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Next: So Much for the O's: Greene Headed to St. Louis

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