Duquette: Saunders will likely choose his 2013 team this week

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he feels free agent pitcher Joe Saunders, who started two playoff games for the Orioles last October, will be making a decision soon on which team he will pitch for this year.

“Joe is not here, but he did a great job for us last year,” Duquette said. “He’s probably going to make a decision this week.”

Is Duquette confident that Saunders will re-sign with the club?

“I don’t have a real sense of it,” Duquette said. “We’d like to have some veteran pitching between now and the time we go to spring training, so we’ll be talking to some players (if Saunders doesn’t return).”

Duquette was asked if he is confident the club can avoid arbitration hearings with pitchers Jim Johnson, Darren O’Day and Jason Hammel.

“We’re going to do what we can to sign the players. We are not afraid of going to arbitration, but our first choice is to sign them,” he said.

Duquette was asked if he is reluctant to part with some of the Orioles’ young pitchers via trade.

“We like our young pitching,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of opportunity to move the young pitching, but we like to take a look at that and have them help our team. (Kevin) Gausman and (Dylan) Bundy did well and finished at Double-A. Bundy made his major league debut. I’d much prefer to take a look at them and have them help the Orioles than utilize them in a trade.”

Duquette was asked if the time has come to start thinking about a long-term contract for catcher Matt Wieters.

“I like Matt Wieters and I like his leadership,” Duquette said. “I’m sure there will be opportunities for the team and Matt to address a longer term relationship. I don’t know the timing of that, but the good news is Matt is signed for this year. Hopefully we will have beyond the three years we have with the team.”

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