Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told reporters today that nothing is imminent on the trade front, though he anticipates a flurry of activity among clubs leading up to Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline.
Duquette said he’s focused on improving the team’s pitching depth, which indicates that the Orioles aren’t in the running for a big-name starter such as Jon Lester or Cole Hamels.
“I think more pitching depth, I would say. It’s more realistic that we could make a deal for pitching depth,” Duquette said.
“We’ve had conversations with a number of teams and we’ve been looking for some pitching depth. That’s primarily what we’re focused on.
“I don’t know if there’s anything potentially close, but we’ve had more meaningful discussions with a number of teams, so we’ve got a good idea what the market is and we’ll see if we can do something to help the team.”
Duquette wouldn’t classify the bullpen as the top priority.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re looking around in a couple of different areas to help our team.”
As he’s indicated in the past, Duquette made it clear that he’d prefer to keep the top young pitching prospects in the organization.
“We’d like the star players to come up and make an impact on the team,” he said. “In 2012, we brought up Manny (Machado) and he made a difference in the pennant race. In 2014, we’ve got Kevin Gausman on our team and we hope he will impact the race, so that’s really the first choice, to have those really talented players play for us and prove themselves in the big leagues.”
Asked to judge the market and the intensity of trade talks this year compared to the previous two seasons, Duquette replied, “There’s a lot of teams in the hunt for the playoffs. In 2012, we didn’t really make a deal. In 2013, we made a couple of deals, but we made them earlier. We made a minor deal when we picked up (Jimmy) Paredes. That was more for depth in our infield and I think he could probably come up and make a contribution to the team at some point. And then we can continue our discussions with these other clubs.”
Duquette would like to upgrade the offensive production at second base and catcher, but he won’t sacrifice defense.
“If you look at it, those are a couple areas where we could improve,” he said. “I’ve got to say, there’s trade-offs in everything. Our guys have done a nice job defensively at second, have done a nice job defensively catching. They’ve contributed offensively, although it hasn’t been consistent.
“Ideally, we’d like to have a more consistent contribution from those positions, but given the choice we’d much rather have the defense first.
“I think we have the defense. If we could add to our offensive team, that would probably be something we could take a look at.”
The Orioles enter today in first place in the American League East and 12 games above .500.
Are they good enough to keep winning as presently constructed?
“So far, so good,” Duquette said. “Every team has strengths and areas we could improve upon. Our team is like that. We’ve been able to get more consistent starting pitching, which will cover up a lot of areas of your team. We’ve been able to execute defensively, which has helped us win the close games.
“This is a good ballclub. We’d like to try and improve the ballclub, because it’s really the last chance you can do it unilaterally without somebody else’s permission, so we’re trying to do what we can.”
Asked again whether he’s confident about getting a deal done within the next few days, Duquette said, “We have pretty good depth to our farm system, so I think we have the wherewithal to make a deal.
“Once these deals start happening, they happen pretty quickly, so there could be a flurry of deals (in baseball) maybe tonight or tomorrow.”
Duquette wouldn’t comment on the Orioles’ potential interest in reliever Jim Johnson, who was designated for assignment by the Athletics.
“He’s under contract with another club,” Duquette said, “so it’s not appropriate for me to talk about that.”