NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette took a break from the affiliates dinner tonight at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center to meet with reporters before the Winter Meetings officially get under way.
The Orioles remain in the market for a hitter, whether it’s left-handed or right-handed. Power is a requirement. And it could be first base, left field or designated hitter.
“Our agenda at the Winter Meetings is to try to find a hitter,” Duquette said. “We’ll keep working on that. It’s a possibility that may happen in the trade market.
“We’ll also look to sign some other players to complement our team.”
Asked whether the position matters, Duquette replied, “It really depends on the bat. I know we have some flexibility in other areas.
“It’s really dependent on the quality of the hitter we could add.”
The market has grown with the recent non-tenders, which could give Duquette more options.
“We’ll take a look at that also,” Duquette said.
Duquette feels as though the Orioles have addressed the need for speed by claiming infielder Alexi Casilla and trading for outfielder Trayvon Robinson. He must replace the power lost with the decision to non-tender first baseman Mark Reynolds.
“We have some other players that we can take a look at in the spring, but we don’t have the established home run hitter on the team that Reynolds was,” Duquette said.
The Orioles aren’t focused on acquiring another second baseman.
“The player we added, (Yamaico) Navarro, is a pretty good ballplayer, and if you take a look at what he did at Triple-A when he went back to Indianapolis, he has the offensive capability to be an everyday ballplayer in the big leagues,” Duquette said. “It just hasn’t translated so far with his production in the big leagues, but he’s had less than 200 at-bats. He does have the tools and capabilities to be an everyday ballplayer. And he’s versatile to where he can play a number of different positions. So, it’ll be interesting to see where that comes out. But I think we have plenty of candidates for second base.”
Duquette hasn’t contacted veteran designated hitter Jim Thome since the season ended. He said the Orioles “like” outfielder Nate McLouth and left-hander Joe Saunders, who remain possibilities to re-sign as free agents.
“They both did a good job for us,” he said.
Duquette also said the Orioles may be “active” in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday after they selected infielder Ryan Flaherty last winter and kept him on the major league roster all season.
“We had good success with it last year with Flaherty,” Duquette said.
Duquette spoke again about the increased depth in the pitching staff, “which is a good thing.” He noted that Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman could come up later in the summer.
“We also have more qualified major league pitchers than we have slots,” Duquette said. “All those things are good things, right? We have a surplus as perceived by other teams that we can make a trade that could help us in other areas.
“I believe we’ll be able to do some good here.”
How good? Could the Orioles leave here with more impact players than last winter, when they claimed Flaherty and traded for left-hander Dana Eveland?
“We’re working all the time,” Duquette said. “The timing of these deals isn’t always at the Winter Meetings, but it’s a good time to close on a deal, so we’re going to do what we can to help our team this week.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has narrowed his list of third base candidates to two or three and could name DeMarlo Hale’s replacement before the meetings conclude.