Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that the Orioles have been involved in some recent trade discussions, but that any talks are in the very early stages right now.
"We've talked to a number of teams, probably over half the teams," Duquette said. "Some teams are still trying to decide what they are going to do. I think it's still early and so many teams are still in contention."
Is he confident the Orioles will be involved in one or more trades by July 31?
"Who knows?" Duquette said. "We are exploring a number of different options."
He also said it is pretty clear cut right now in terms of what the club's biggest current need is.
"Starting pitching. We need to find a solution to our starting pitching," Duquette said. He also said he doesn't feel the recent call-ups of pitchers like Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez has thinned the pitching ranks of available players the team can call on from its Triple-A Norfolk team.
"Not if we can get (Brian) Matusz, (Jake) Arrieta and (Tommy) Hunter pitching well," he said.
Duquette said the club would like to hang onto to any players it feels can be long-term solutions at the major league level, but that doesn't make those players totally unavailable in the right deal.
"The future is always now, when you are trying to win. Your future is really the opportunity and the risk is in not going for it. What do you think the fans want to see? They want to see and hear about all these prospects or do they want to see a competitive major league team going for the pennant?" Duquette said.
"Do you have to trade some of those (long-term solutions) to get immediate value for your team? Sometimes you do. But you know what? If we trade them, we are going to go out and sign some others."
What about media reports that top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are untouchable?
"Well, Dylan Bundy was just named the top prospect in the minor leagues yesterday and Manny was identified as No. 9. They look like they could be long-term solutions for the Orioles," said Duquette.
So does that mean you are telling other teams they are not available?
"Like I said, they look to be long-term solutions to help the Orioles," Duquette said.
If the Orioles are reluctant to deal Machado and/or Bundy, some believe they won't then have what it takes with the remaining players on the farm and in their organization to pull off a major deal.
"We're going to find out," Duquette said. "We are starting to get some depth to our farm system and there are other players in our farm system that teams like. And they are good players in their own right, in addition to Bundy and Machado. The other teams will tell us that, right? If they like our players better, they'll make a trade with us."
What about some of the young pitchers that have struggled like Matusz and Arrieta. Will they be players the team will look to move now or be open to trading?
"It is hard to trade pitching without getting pitching in return. It's such a vital resource. That would be hard for the team to do," Duquette said.
Coming tomorrow: I will have quotes from Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado here as they talk about playing in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game representing the Orioles.
Coming soon: More from my interview with Dan Duquette as he addresses several topics including international scouting and signings.