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Orioles appear to be a Winter Meetings dancing partner for the Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki is still not being traded unless the Rockies are overwhelmed, now let's see if the media can come up with some other rumors regarding this club.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another article about how the Rockies are listening on Troy Tulowitzki, only this piece from Jon Heyman is actually worth your time. Unlike the majority of the articles published outside of Colorado on this subject, Heyman addresses the hurdles in place preventing a Tulowitzki deal from happening and gets the reader to see things from the Colorado perspective - Something that usually tends to be sorely missing when "news" arises on this subject out of New York.

Between Dick Monfort's desire to keep Tulo, the immense ceiling that the possibility of a healthy Tulo season still provides, Tulo's love of Denver, and the unwillingness of some teams to give up prospects AND pay the rest of Tulo's contract, it's clear that the Rockies are going to have to be thoroughly overwhelmed to move this player, and even then they might not do it.

There's still an outside chance something develops on this front over the next week or two as deals and trades are about to get hot across MLB, and this sometimes causes domino effects with unforeseen consequences, but for now, this topic remains a style over substance long shot, and I certainly won't be complaining if that remains the case.

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Now here's a rumor that makes immediate sense. Reports are surfacing that the Orioles and Rockies are exchanging ideas that could send Drew Stubbs to Baltimore for pitching. I was shocked to see the O's let both Nelson Cruz and longtime local fan favorite Nick Markakis get away, but now that they've moved on to Seattle and Atlanta, Baltimore's outfield need is real and urgent.

The Dodgers also have a surplus of outfielders and could ruin this match up for the Rockies if they're willing to swoop in and sweeten the pot on a Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier deal, but that's likely going to involve them paying off a huge chunk of one of those contracts. Of course, they have more than enough money to do that so that shouldn't be an issue if their front office is motivated.

In any case, keep an eye out. I'd be very surprised if Baltimore doesn't deal for outfield help of some sort before this is over, and the Dodgers and Rockies are clearly two of the most logical trading partners.

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Jon Lester still hasn't decided on a team (so no link required here), but with the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, Yankees and Dodgers all involved, it's worth pointing out again how much his decision is going to influence the market. The Lester deal, whenever it happens, will not only set the price for a guy like Max Scherzer, but it also creates the potential for a rapid flood of moves right after this dam breaks.

Think for a moment about the current combined pitching staffs of the Red Sox, Yankees, Giants, and Cubs, and then try making a list of the ten or 15 best starters from that group, knowing that there needs to be at least 20 guys just to get opening day rotations set. After a couple of elite names at the top, you don't need to travel very far down that list to start running into some serious mediocrity. These are teams with serious money, a serious need for starting pitching, and a market that gets really thin in that department once Lester, Scherzer, and Shields go off the board.

I bring all this up because it has a trickle-down effect that ultimately impacts the Rockies in a negative way. Once the big names are gone, clubs are going to drastically overpay for middle-of-the-road starting pitching even more than usual. In other words, the Rockies probably can't get a middle of the road starter at a reasonable price for the 2015 season. It's going to either require a serious overpay, or enough years that it threatens to tie up precious financial resources in a declining arm as we move into 2016 and beyond when the Rockies have a real shot to contend. Both of those options are pretty yucky.

The proof is in the pudding. Thinking it might be a good idea for the Rockies to look into bringing Jason Hammel back to plug that 2015 rotation hole? Well he and the Cubs are already knee deep in talks about a three year deal. If you want him on your 2015 squad, you're also going to have to pay him large slab of money in 2016 (and possibly 2017 as well).

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Another name that has the potential to impact the market is Jung-Ho Kang, a shortstop from Korea who posted an eye popping .364 / .457 / .733 line last season. The problem however is that he did it in a league that's not nearly as comparable to MLB as the ones in Japan and Cuba. There's significant boom and bust potential here. So far, the A's Mets, and Giants are interested.

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The Dodgers very nearly acquired Miguel Montero for Andre Ethier over the weekend, but Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick put the kibosh on that citing that he didn't feel comfortable trading Montero to a division rival. The Dodgers willingness to make this move however shows that Rockies are not the only team desperately searching for catching help in the N.L. West, and sadly it also shows that the Rockies have their work cut out for them if they want to improve behind the plate.

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Finally, the Nationals are now in talks attempting to sign Jordan Zimmermann to a long term deal again after they went nowhere the first time and trade speculation popped up. For some reason, Washington seems very hesitant to go into 2015 without either trading or extending Zimmermann. I understand the big picture line of thinking there, but regardless of what happens on the extension front, Washington needs to go for it all in 2015.

The Nationals were the best team in the National League last season, still have that extremely strong rotation in place, and are only challenged by the Dodgers as the easiest preseason pick to go to the 2015 postseason. This year likely represents their last best chance to win it all with this group.