Are the Orioles moving away from Gallardo?

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is reluctant to talk specifics with the local media when it pertains to free agents and potential trade partners. He sees no benefit in showing his hand to the rest of the industry. However, Duquette tends to be a little more forthcoming on MLB Network Radio, the latest example coming this morning.

Speaking with former executives Jim Duquette (his cousin) and Jim Bowden, he basically took the Orioles out of the running for pitcher Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler by stating the club’s preference to hold onto its first-round pick.

Gallardo and Fowler would require compensation to their former teams after turning down qualifying offers. The Orioles currently hold the 14th overall pick.

duquette-suit-mic-showalter-sidebar.jpgAsked specifically about Gallardo, Duquette said, “The question for us is, are we willing to give up our No. 1 pick, which is going to be somewhere in the middle of the first round, for a compensation free agent or for the compensation free agents that are remaining, and so far that answer has been ‘no.’ We haven’t been willing to do that.

“We made a number of trades to keep our team in contention and have winning clubs the last four years, and when you do that, you have to give up good pitching from your farm system. We need the draft picks this year to help restock the farm system, so I think we’re probably going to hang onto that pick.”

The Orioles need to replace left-hander Wei-Yin Chen in the rotation, but Duquette expressed his frustration last night with the rising cost of pitchers and the difficulty in swinging deals. A stumbling block with the latter approach is the need to part with young pitching in order to consummate a deal.

Though Duquette has been in contact with Gallardo’s representative since early in the offseason, the Orioles don’t seem interested in offering a fourth or fifth year. Factor in the loss of their first-round pick, and it appears that Gallardo no longer is a consideration.

“We’re going to keep looking for pitching,” Duquette said. “I’m not sure where we’re going to find it. There’s some still available on the free agent market, and there might be a trade or two in spring training we could make.”

Doug Fister wouldn’t cost a draft pick, but he’s reportedly seeking a two-year deal for about $22 million and the Orioles need the right-hander to lower his demands. Duquette indicated on MLB Network that no offer has been made, though it could happen later in the winter.

“Fister’s interesting,” Duquette said. “He’s had a couple good years. Last year wasn’t one of his good years, but he’s an interesting guy. He’s a bounceback candidate. I can’t say that we made an offer to him, but we’ve been monitoring his market.”

Cliff Lee also is a bounceback candidate, but the Orioles aren’t paying much attention to the former Cy Young Award winner.

“I haven’t been following Cliff Lee,” Duquette said. “I don’t get the sense that he’s ready to come back.”

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