Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette returned from the GM meetings in Orlando late last night with a better sense of potential trade partners. However, he indicated again today that he’d prefer to hold on to closer Zach Britton, who continues to draw outside interest.
Duquette nearly pulled off a trade at the non-waiver deadline that would have sent Britton to the Astros, but it fell apart due to the medicals on a couple of prospects. He met with representatives from multiple clubs this week, including the Cubs and Dodgers.
“I think teams were just following up on the fact that during the trade deadline, toward the end of the season, there were some players available on the market,” Duquette said.
“We’re still planning on Zach being with our ballclub. The bullpen has been one of the strengths of the team and he’s been one of the anchors of the bullpen. I can understand why teams would have interest in him, but he’s certainly got a lot of value to our ballclub.”
Britton is approaching his final season under team control before he’s eligible for free agency and MLBTradeRumors.com projects that he’ll receive $12.2 million in arbitration. The steep cost for a closer leads to speculation that the Orioles will attempt to move him and Duquette figures to receive more inquiries on Britton at next month’s Winter Meeting.
Duquette had numerous conversations with executives before arriving in Orlando, but the 40-man roster remains at 30 players.
“I think we talked to just about all the teams,” he said. “We talked to a number of them going into the meetings, probably about 10 or 12, and we followed up with some face-to-face meetings down there. We really got a chance to talk to just about every club over probably the past 10 days.
“There were a lot of clubs that were doing preliminary work, which made it helpful to get some groundwork on the meetings once the World Series got done, and we made a couple of calls ourselves. So we had a pretty good idea where we needed to go to when we got to Florida.”
Nothing has changed with the shopping list, which begins with multiple starting pitchers and continues with bullpen depth and left-handed bats.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” Duquette said. “We’re trying to staff our team and see if we can solidify our rotation and get some pitching depth, and then focus on our lineup with some additional left-handed hitting.”
Most of the lineup appears to be set, at least on paper, but Duquette said it’s possible to make room for left-handed bats.
“We can look at a couple of possibilities. A left-handed hitting DH or another outfielder,” Duquette said.
“With (Welington) Castillo opting out of the 2018 portion of his contract, that looks like it’s going to provide some additional opportunities for (Chance) Sisco, who’s a left-handed hitter. But we’d still like to balance out the lineup with the addition of another left-handed hitter or two. Ideally, that’s something that we’re going to try to accomplish.”
* The “Orioles Hot Stove Show” returns to 105.7 The Fan beginning on Nov. 30 and airing each Thursday, except Dec. 28, from 6-7 p.m. at the Orioles Grille at Sheraton Inner Harbor on S. Charles St. I’ll be co-hosting again with Jim Hunter of MASN and the Orioles Radio Network.
Duquette is lined up as the first guest on Nov. 30, and outfielder Trey Mancini joins us on Dec. 7.
The Orioles Grille will offer food and drink specials for fans, as well as validated parking for two hours.
The show runs through Feb. 22 before relocating to Sarasota on March 1 and being rebranded as the “Orioles Spring Training Report.” The final broadcast airs on March 22.