Quick hits from the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters today that the Orioles made their first offer to a free agent since arriving at the Swan and Dolphin Resort for the Winter Meetings. However, he added that it wasn’t a closer.

Duquette noted the speculation earlier today about Grant Balfour, without mentioning the reliever by name, and described it as “pretty far out ahead of the market.”

Duquette added that the Orioles have “a lot more work to do” in their search for more pitching.

The Orioles are considered the frontrunners to sign Balfour, according to multiple industry sources, and they still could sign him to a multi-year deal. But Duquette and manager Buck Showalter insist that nothing is imminent.

“Speculation that we’re close to a deal is not accurate,” Duquette said. “A lot of the speculation is way beyond the activity.”

Duquette said he met with a couple of teams and agents today, as the Orioles attempt to find a left-handed bat.

Duquette said he’d be willing to offer more than two years for a free agent starting pitcher, depending on the individual and the risks involved in such a signing.

Bartolo Colon won’t require three years, and the Orioles remain interested in him. They met with his agent, Adam Katz, who also represents outfielder Nelson Cruz.

It appears that the Orioles’ interest in Cruz has been exaggerated - perhaps because of their meeting with Katz. They’ve talked about trading for Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison, but I don’t sense that he’s high on their list.

As for the assorted trade discussions, Duquette said, “A lot of people are interested in the players that are our players, but they’re core players for us, so a lot of those discussions are really non-starters.”

“I am encouraged that we do have some interest in some of our younger players. I think that’s encouraging for us, for our major league team, either for them coming up to help the team or for us to be able to trade them. We have a little bit more depth. It’s not significantly more, but we have a little bit more.”

Also, Duquette said he hasn’t met with agent Scott Boras regarding contract extensions for catcher Matt Wieters and first baseman Chris Davis, and has no plans to do so this week.

“There’s a time of year to do that,” Duquette said, “and it’s not right now.”

And finally, reliever Ryan Webb passed his physical today and signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

The Orioles now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

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