Notes on Balfour, Burnett, Kubel and Freitas

The Orioles aren't expected to make any announcements tonight. I've been told it's "status quo," with a lot of executives and agents traveling today.

I guess it's harder to leave Lake Buena Vista, Fla., than I realized.

Nothing new to report on closer Grant Balfour, who continues to put the Orioles and other teams on hold.

"There are plenty of closers on the market," said executive vice president Dan Duquette. "I'm not that concerned about it. We'll see how things go. We're still looking around."

The Orioles have a two-year offer on the table, but they're not the only team.

I wrote a few days ago that the Orioles met with A.J. Burnett's agent at the Winter Meetings. The veteran right-hander is viewed as a good fit, with his home in Monkton and his willingness to take a one-year deal.

The issue, of course, is whether he's willing to pitch in 2014.

"I'm not sure what A.J. has decided," Duquette said. "If he's interested in pitching close to home, this would be a good spot for him. If he decides he wants to play, we'd be interested in talking to him."

The Orioles were still interested in outfielder Jason Kubel, who's been linked to them almost as much as Gavin Floyd, but he chose to accept a minor league contract today with the Minnesota Twins.

Duquette discussed a major league deal with Kubel's agent at the Winter Meetings, but the outfielder was intent on going back to Minnesota, where he played from 2004-2011. He must have assurances that he will be included on the opening day roster.

Kubel could have provided one of the left-handed bats that Duquette has been chasing.

Catcher David Freitas, the PTBN in the Jim Johnson-Jemile Weeks trade with Oakland, is expected to join Michael Ohlman at Double-A Bowie next season.

Freitas, 24, is a career .276/.377/.424 hitter in the minors. He batted .266/.355/.381 with nine extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 29 games this year at Triple-A Sacramento.

"He should give us some depth at the catching position," Duquette said. "He can swing the bat and he has some power. We were able to pick up the kid (Johnny Monell) from the Giants, and this kid. It gives us far more options.

"Caleb (Joseph) had a good year in Double-A, and Ohlman did well in the Arizona Fall League and very well in the Carolina League. I think we made good progress with our catching depth this year throughout the organization."

Duquette envisions Monell and Steve Clevenger competing for the backup job in spring training, with the loser of that battle joining Joseph and Brian Ward at Triple-A Norfolk.

"You always need catchers," Duquette said.


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