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Meetings over, Wade's work unfinished

Meetings end with unfinished work

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Astros have many offers on the table and are waiting to hear if they have a deal, and while it appears the Miguel Tejada talks are back on, the Astros and Orioles apparently are not close to consummating a trade.

A Major League source characterized a trade that would send Tejada to the Astros as "possible," but that "probable" would be a far reach. According to the source, the teams are not close.

On the Astros' end, they could be willing to part with Chris Burke, Adam Everett and perhaps a pitching prospect. The names that appear to be off the table are the three players with no-trade clauses -- Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee -- along with outfielder Hunter Pence, catcher J.R. Towles and right-hander Felipe Paulino.

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The Astros appear comfortable with their offer, but the Orioles are likely hesitant to trade their superstar shortstop, a fan favorite in Baltimore.

Ed Wade arrived to the Winter Meetings on Monday intent to broker a deal or two, but he left Nashville on Thursday without making a single move.

That doesn't mean it was a wasted week, however. Wade was in dozens of conversations with several teams, and the groundwork has been laid for possible future deals. It is clear that Wade has offered many proposals, and now he's simply waiting teams to say yes or no.

"We sort of put our position on the table -- 'here it is,'" Wade said. "Now it's up to, in one instance, one club, in another instance, a couple of clubs, to sort of look at it and say, 'Does this fit in with what we're trying to do?' We're a player in a few things but we're not the club that's in a position of saying, 'Deal.'"

In some instances, the Astros may have found a suitable trade with another club, but it is contingent on that club following through with another team on a separate proposal. The intricacy of such deals takes a long time to sift through, which is the main reason why Wade is leaving Nashville with the same Astros club he had when he arrived on Monday.

It's no secret that the Astros are looking to deal Burke and outfielder Luke Scott. Both have drawn marked interest, but if the Astros want to obtain pitching in return, it's likely they'll have to part with top prospects. Wade appears to be willing to do that for the right acquisition.

The Astros need starting pitching and a closer. They're also looking to fortify their bench, but part of that equation may be solved by midnight on Friday.

Winter Meetings

Free agents who were offered arbitration have until then to decide whether they'll accept or reject the offer. Infielder Mark Loretta appears to be leaning toward accepting, and it's likely left-hander Trever Miller will accept as well.

If Loretta accepts, he will be committing to a team with no starting position to offer. However, the Astros would like to have him back in 2008 and see him as a valuable weapon off the bench who can also fill in a second and short and provide insurance in case of injury.

If Loretta were to reject arbitration and test the free agent market, he would likely not make as much as he would receive in arbitration from the Astros. That may sway his decision as well.

Wade had brief discussions this week with Loretta's agent, Bob Garber, regarding Loretta's potential role on this club. Clearly, the bulk of the playing time at second will go to Kazuo Matsui, while Adam Everett will return as the everyday shortstop.

"I gave Bob an honest appraisal of what I think the role is on our club and how we're structured," Wade said. "Realistically, if you look at us right now, it would be a utility-type role where he has the ability to play shortstop. [Geoff] Blum does, also. Mark's gotten into a lot of situations where that's been the job description, and he comes out of it on the back end with 425, 450 at-bats.

"[Garber] was asking me about playing time and I said, 'Playing time is a product of the player's performance and managerial decisions.' It's not the GM's call. I'd rather have a player uncomfortable, upset on the front end rather than to put my arm around him and whisper sweet nothings in his ear and not fulfill the promises going forward.

"I think Mark understands what the job description seems to be at this time and he has two be comfortable with it if that's what the job ends up being."

Deals done: None during the Winter Meetings, but on Sunday, the club inked second baseman Kazuo Matsui to a three-year deal worth $16.5 million.

Prior to that, Wade acquired center fielder Michael Bourn, reliever Geoff Geary and third-base prospect Mike Costanzo from the Phillies for reliever Brad Lidge and infielder Eric Bruntlett. Wade sent center field prospect Josh Anderson to Atlanta for right-hander Oscar Villarreal, signed infielder Geoff Blum, re-signed catcher Brad Ausmus and signed outfielder Yordany Ramirez.

Rule 5 activity: The Astros selected left-hander Wesley Wright from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft. They also selected right-handed pitcher Giuseppe Norrito from the Dodgers organization in the Triple-A phase of the Draft.

Goals accomplished: It's too early to tell. They didn't accomplish their goal to make a deal or two before the end of the Winter Meetings, but they did lay the groundwork, allowing for deals to possibly happen in the near future.

Unfinished business: The Astros still need starting pitching and a closer. They are prepared to deal Burke, who lost his starting job to Matsui, and they would like to deal Scott if they can get value in return.

GM's bottom line: "There's still some things in play that have significance, but I don't know if we're going to get to the finish line on them or not. There are a lot of moving parts that we have no control over, a lot of multiple team scenarios." -- Wade

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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