Duquette on Weeks, the closer role and more, plus PTBN possibles

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was a guest on MASN’s “Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” yesterday and talked about the Jim Johnson trade. He said when you look at the trade you’ll have to look at other players the O’s sign in the next few weeks.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted this yesterday:

“Jim Johnson trade was an obvious salary dump for Baltimore. Source said Orioles could be using money to pursue outfielder Nelson Cruz.”

Cruz was among 13 players disciplined last August for his relationship to Biogenesis of America, a since-closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs. He served a 50-game suspension. Cruz has a career .495 slugging percentage and .823 OPS.

So add another name for the rumor mill.

Meanwhile, Duquette was asked what he liked about infielder Jemile Weeks.

“What I like about Jemile is he has good speed and is a patient hitter,” Duquette said. “He has good on-base capability and can be an effective base stealer. He is a little stronger left-handed hitter than right-handed and I think that is his real strength to get on base and set up some of the other power hitters in the lineup.”

Here are some other Duquette quotes from Tuesday’s MASN show:

On the closer role: “I think we can decide that in the spring. These situations are always fluid. We were looking for a closer a couple years ago and Jim Johnson stepped up and did a good job.

“If you take a look at the teams in the playoffs this year, they had a plan going into spring training for who was going to close, but by the time you got to the end of the season it was somebody entirely different.

“If we have good pitching depth, one of Buck’s strengths is the way he manages the bullpen. I think we’ll be able to solve that problem and I hope to be able to sign some other pitchers that will give us more depth and strength to our pitching staff.”

On the timing of the trade: “You know the tender deadline is such that once you tender the contract you’ve committed the resource. We felt more comfortable making the trade and then being able to take the savings and go out and have the flexibility to sign some other players.”

What is his top priority now?: “We need some help in the outfield and DH and we’d like to sign some additional pitchers, but I have to tell you I like our starting rotation. Think it’s more established now than it has been the last couple of years at this time.

“Particularly with the emergence of (Chris) Tillman. Miguel Gonzalez has been good, (Wei-Yin) Chen has been good and we added (Bud) Norris. We have some dependable innings in that group. We have to find some additional innings and we’ll continue to look for someone to DH, particularly against right-handed pitching and we’d like to add another outfielder.”

According to an industry source, two names that have been floated as the possible player to be named coming to the Orioles from Oakland are corner infielder Miles Head and right-handed pitcher Blake Hassebrock.

The 22-year-old Head was Oakland’s minor league Player of the Year when he batted .333 with 23 homers and 84 RBIs in 2012. But in 40 Double-A games in 2013 he hit just .196. Still, he has a career minor league slash line of .286/.355/.472. Head was drafted in round 26 by Boston in 2009 and traded to Oakland in the December 2011 deal that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston.

The 24-year-old Hassebrock, Oakland’s eighth-round pick in 2010, went 2-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 2013 between Single-A and Double-A. He throws in the low to mid 90s.

Another possibility is reportedly first baseman Anthony Aliotti. The 26-year-old lefty hitter batted .324 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs in 2013 between Double and Triple-A for Oakland.

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