NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Orioles made their first move of the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, securing a one-year, $2 million deal to bring back outfielder Nate McLouth, pending the completion of a physical.
"Nate did a great job for us last year when we brought him up," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of McLouth, who could earn up to $500,000 in additional bonuses. "He helped solidify the team defensively and he hit with some power. He got on base and was an excellent basestealer. And he did a terrific job when Nick Markakis went down moving into that leadoff spot.
"He was a real gritty player and our fans connected with him, and he really liked the 'football atmosphere' -- he termed it -- at the ballpark. So that looks like it's going to be a good thing for the team to bring back."
Baltimore had steady dialogue with McLouth's agent, Mike Nicotera, in Nashville, and manager Buck Showalter spoke on the phone Tuesday with the 31-year-old outfielder, who was the organization's top choice at the corner outfield spot. Duquette had stated publicly that the O's were hoping to sign another outfielder by the end of the week, and the team met with several other outfielders before ultimately reaching a deal at approximately 1 p.m. ET.
McLouth had a .268/.342/.435 line in 55 games for Baltimore last season, emerging as the club's starting left fielder and providing a spark from the leadoff spot with Brian Roberts and Markakis on the disabled list. Signed to a Minor League contract after being released by the Pirates, McLouth had said all along that he would like to return to Baltimore. It was a mutual feeling.
"I don't know if he's the everyday left fielder, I think that's a question for another day," Duquette said of whether McLouth will get the job outright or platoon with Nolan Reimold. "But Nate, over the course of his career, has done very well against right-handed pitching, and that has been a staple for him."
Duquette also put to rest the prospect of potentially signing free agent Nick Swisher, whom the club met with on Tuesday: "I think we have enough outfielders on our ballclub. We can take a look at the guys we have in the spring."
Pressed further about the possibility of signing Swisher to play first base, Duquette said: "I don't think we need to worry about that for Baltimore fans."
The Orioles would still like to make a trade to get a middle-of-the-order bat, although it's unclear when or how that could come about.
"Sometimes they come together, sometimes they take a little while to percolate after the meeting," said Duquette, who discussed four or five trade possibilities on Wednesday. "But we still have our eye on a couple other things."
The O's also announced the signing of eight players to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training: outfielders Lew Ford, Conor Jackson and Jason Pridie; right-handed pitchers Daniel McCutchen and Adam Russell; and catchers Allan De San Miguel, Jose Gil and Chris Robinson.
The organization also signed its first Czech player, Jan Novak, in the Orioles' first foray into Europe. Novak is an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher with a good delivery, according to Duquette.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.