As trade talk heats up, the offense breaks out

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said trade talk started heating up in the majors around the time of the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month. Duquette said the Orioles’ front office has a “sharper focus on the future” with the team buried in last place at 20-50.

Duquette-Sunglasses-Sidebar.jpgDuquette was my guest Sunday on “Orioles Baseball Tonight” on flagship station 105.7 FM the Fan in Baltimore. I asked Duquette for his message to fans that say they now want to see younger talent that could help the team in the future.

“That is where we’re headed,” Duquette said. “It might take a little while to transition to get there, but that’s certainly where we’re headed. I think Oriole fans know that if we’re going in another direction and they think it’s the right direction, that they’ll have some patience.”

Duquette again declined to get into any specifics on a possible deal for shortstop Manny Machado and would not confirm whether talks have heated up for Machado.

“There is a lot of focus on him because he is an impact player,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the specifics of where any discussions are with Manny or anyone else. I think you have to have some respect for Manny and the job that he is doing for the Orioles and let him continue having his season.”

I asked Duquette if some trades could get completed this month.

“I don’t know. These things have a way of filtering through and working themselves out,” he said. “Every trade season is a little bit different. But we’ve been talking with several clubs to see where we can match up and try to improve our club for the future.”

Duquette admits that knowing exactly when to pull the trigger on a trade is always a challenge. Will the team get their best offers for a player now, or will the offers get better closer to the July trade deadline?

“That is part of the market,” Duquette continued. “Sometimes you know, if you don’t fill your need at the time you have an opportunity, sometimes you don’t get as good an opportunity in the future. Then, other times, you might create some more leverage and get a better offer. I think you have to have a good idea of the player that you’re trading and then what you are trying to do to help your club for the future. If you work within those parameters, you can identify the opportunities that are brought to you in the market.”

The assumption is that the Orioles are very open to moving any of their four pending free agents. They are Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton and Brad Brach. But would the Orioles be open to deals beyond that and trading players who are under team control beyond this year?

“Well, this is an active trade market,” said Duquette. “Usually it is the veteran players that get traded this time of the year. Occasionally clubs will trade players that have lesser service time. If an opportunity came up, I’m sure the Orioles would have to take a look at that, given where we are at and how much work we have to do.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily a priority for the Orioles. I think really, we have to get some younger ballplayers in here. We do have some good talent on the team and some talent we think can come up and help the team from the minor leagues. Anything that we do would be to add to that talent base so that we can get back into contention like we have been in past year but certainly not like we are this year.”

By the way, Jones is a 10-5 player. He has at least 10 years of service time, including the last five years with the same team, so he can veto any trade involving him. Essentially, he has a no-trade clause and he would have to approve any deal.

O’s win and scored big: If we don’t count a game where the Orioles were 1-for-2 at Citi Field, Sunday the Orioles had their best day hitting with runners in scoring position in over a month.

They went 5-for-13 with RISP in Sunday’s 10-4 win over Miami. It was their best day with RISP since going 9-for-17 in a 17-1 win over Tampa Bay May 13. Yesterday they scored their most runs since that day.

In fact the past two days the O’s have gone 7-for-20 (.350) with RISP scoring 14 runs. In the eight games before that they went 3-for-58 (.052) scoring 16 runs.

The Orioles also have 10 or more hits in back-to-back games for the first time since May 10-11. They led 8-1 by the end of the fifth inning yesterday. It was a refreshing change.

Mark Trumbo went 3-for-5 with a homer and enjoyed finally being part of a lineup that produced so well for one day. He said all they can do now, at 30 games under .500, is keep working to get better.

“We’re doing what we can, constantly trying to get better. It doesn’t always show up, but that has to be the goal going forward. It’s going to be a long road for the team, but you want to see improvement in some areas. I think if you can target those and actually do it, we’ll be that much better because of that,” he said.

Great interview: This is the best Darren O’Day interview you’ll see all year!

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