According to a source here, the Orioles have made substantial progress over the past 24 hours on the prospective deal that would send Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds for fourth outfielder Ryan Freel and a mid-level prospect.

There is a general manager’s meeting going on right now, but it’s possible the deal could be announced very soon. If there is any holdup, it could be because the Commissioner’s Office will have to approve the deal, since more than $1 million in cash will also change hands to subsidize Ramon’s salary….

Hernandez became expendable for a couple of reasons — the first, of course, being the quick progress of top catching prospect Matt Wieters. But the Orioles had become increasingly disenchanted with his lack of intensity behind the plate.

Anyone enthused about the 200-300 ABs Hernandez will get in a Reds uniform if this deal goes through? Me either.

UPDATE: As has been noted in the comments, it’s official now.

The Cincinnati Reds plugged a hole behind the plate, acquiring Ramon Hernandez from the Baltimore Orioles for frustrated utilityman Ryan Freel and two minor leaguers Tuesday.

The rebuilding Orioles also receive infield prospects Justin Turner and Brandon Waring. As part of the deal, Baltimore will give Cincinnati cash to offset part of Hernandez’s contract. He is owed $8.5 million next year.

“Ramon is a guy we put high on our list and stayed with it,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We set our offseason objectives and one of the big things for us was to try to acquire a quality catcher. We felt there was something that we were lacking last year.

“Ramon was a perfect fit for our club because he provides good leadership — got very good reports that sent several scouts out to watch him this year. He provides good defense, handles a staff well, and will give us a good offense. And in our park, we think he’ll have a very good year.”

Read the entire article linked above for quotes from Dusty Baker and Ryan Freel. And for what it’s worth, here are Hernandez’s stats. Note the sharp decline over the last couple of years.