Wrapping up the Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO - Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is hopeful that his meetings at the Manchester Grand Hyatt will lead to player acquisitions as early as next week.

“We made some good progress with some free agent outfielders and also some pitchers and hopefully that will lead to some players signing with the O’s,” said Duquette, who obtained right-handers Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett today in the Rule 5 draft.

“Happy to add the two right-handed pitchers today to give us some depth and some youth on our pitching staff.”

Duquette media sidebar.jpgAsked how quickly a signing or trade could come together, Duquette replied, “Not today. Probably not today. Maybe next week, first of the week, so you can take the weekend off. That’s why you were wondering, right?”

Busted.

“We’re still looking at some outfield options,” said Duquette, who’s got to find replacements for Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. “We could use a right-handed hitter and a left-handed hitter. Nick, his on-base capability and presence in the lineup every day is something that we’ve got to be cognizant of replacing for our 2015 team. Cruz, of course, home run leader and he’ll be hard to replace, but we should be able to get a veteran right-handed bat to help our team.

“When (Steve) Pearce emerged last year, when he got the opportunity, we’re going to need somebody else to emerge this year. Maybe it’s a left-handed hitter this time. But we’ll be able to find some hitters for DH/outfielder. And (Chris) Davis should be back, (Manny) Machado should be back, (Matt) Wieters should be back. And we have pretty good depth.

“After looking at some of the talent on the market, I’m looking forward to Buck (Showalter) giving Dariel Alvarez a shot in the spring. Cuban right-handed hitter, got some tools.”

Alvarez most likely will start the season at Triple-A Norfolk, but he’s knocking on the door.

“We’ll see in the spring,” Duquette said. “I think ideally Christian Walker and Alvarez, we’d like to have them at Triple-A, but they’re pretty good hitters. They both had good years and we’ll take a look at them in the spring.”

Duquette liked Alvarez more than many of the outfielders available at the meetings.

“Absolutely,” he said.

“These guys are young and they’ve got talent and they’ve got power and they can play a position,” Duquette said, adding that Walker still projects as a first baseman. “You’ve got to be able to play a position and play defense if you’re going to play for Buck with the Orioles and those guys can do that.”

Duquette repeated that he’s more likely to go the free agent route than make a trade.

Duquette was asked what he’d tell fans who are impatient and despondent following the losses of Markakis, Cruz and Andrew Miller, and the lack of a big move in San Diego.

“The fans have got to follow what we’ve done over the last couple of years to field a competitive team and they’ve got to look at the core of our team returning from the 2014 team,” Duquette said.

“The heart of any team is the pitching staff and we’re returning our pitching staff minus one, and we’re going to keep looking to replace him, so you’ve got to look at the core and we’ve got to build off the core. We’re in a good position. We’ve got a couple of good options to look at.”

Garcia, 22, is coming off ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow and throwing a fastball that now reaches the upper 90s. He struck out 59 batters in 56 1/3 innings in 14 games (seven starts) at two lower levels of the Red Sox system.

“Our scouts really like Garcia,” Duquette said. “He’s got good stuff. He’s not very tall, but he’s a hard thrower and he’s got a good slider. He’s a pretty impressive kid.”

One of the players lost in the minor league phase, pitcher Mikey O’Brien, signed with the Orioles last month.

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