A roster exclusion, coaching update and Duquette quotes

The Orioles decided not to protect Triple-A outfielder Mike Yastrzemski in the Rule 5 draft, failing to place him on the 40-man roster.

Plenty of scouts project Yastrzemski, 26, as a possible fourth outfielder in the majors. The Orioles are hoping he stays in the organization, gets healthy and improves dramatically on his 2016 season.

The grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski batted .221/.312/.369 in 94 games at Triple-A Norfolk. Health issues apparently sabotaged his season.

“Actually, his agent called me (Wednesday). He wanted to know about Yaz,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said during the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.

“Incidentally, Yaz had a couple of injuries where he had surgeries. He had a labrum problem and he also had a core injury that he had to have surgery on, so he’s got a little work to do to be ready for the spring.”

In case you missed it, the Orioles protected pitchers Jesus Liranzo and Joe Gunkel. That’s it.

Triple-A catcher Audrey Perez can be selected in the draft and I’m guessing that a team takes him. There are scouts and officials who think he’d make a capable backup.

Thumbnail image for showalterduquettepresser.jpgWe’ve entered the weekend without the Orioles hiring a pitching coach. Duquette indicated that it could happen before Monday, but I think it’s more likely to come next week.

Stay tuned.

On one hand, you don’t want to rush the process and make the wrong choice or skip over someone who’s worthy of an interview. On the other hand, you can’t risk losing a top candidate to another team because he grows impatient.

In case you haven’t memorized the five confirmed candidates, they’re former Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, Double-A Bowie pitching coach Alan Mills, Triple-A Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola, Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque and Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark.

The support for McDowell is strong, but apparently not unanimous. Mills could be hired as the bullpen coach. Or maybe there’s a mystery candidate.

The hot stove is filled with mystery teams, so why not a mystery candidate?

“We’re still working on that,” Duquette said Thursday while interviewed by Jim Hunter and me on 105.7 The Fan. “We have some good candidates. We’re currently in deliberations and we’re going to try to get that resolved if we can this week and start moving on Buck’s coaching staff.”

The pitching coach comes first, followed by the bullpen coach. An assistant hitting coach also is needed.

“We’re trying to get the pitching coach resolved first and then we can move on to the other parts of the coaching staff,” Duquette said. “That’s obviously the key to the coaching staff is getting the pitching coach organized. So we’re going to get that one and then we’ll work on the others.”

The Winter Meetings begin on Dec. 5 in National Harbor and there’s already been a flurry of activity, including the Brian McCann trade to the Astros and free agent starters R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Andrew Cashner and outfielder Josh Reddick coming off the board.

“Clubs are being aggressive in the market,” Duquette said. “The basic agreement needs to be resolved here in the next couple of weeks and I think clubs will have a little bit firmer direction once that’s done, but this free agency market, there’s not a lot of players in the market. There’s not a lot of pitching in the market for sure, so I think clubs have assessed their needs and the players have figured out where they want to go, so I think this market’s going to move pretty quickly, although there are eight to 10 players who have that qualifying offer. That’s going to slow down their market some. But that may change depending on the deal the owners make with the players.”

The Orioles are known for letting the market play out, a technique that goes back to former executive Andy MacPhail.

“The fans that have followed the club closely know that we build the roster year-round, right?” Duquette said. “And we don’t try to win the division in December and November. But we try to make good decisions so that we have our team staffed appropriately and we have good players.

“Nobody ever picks us to do well. Whatever criteria they use, I’m not sure what they use, but they never pick us to do well. And some of that has to do with we’re very methodical and we’re critical of who we bring onto the team. And there’s a good reason for that. We want the right fit, we want the job to match the player and the player to match the job, we want the player to fit into the clubhouse and to play good defense, obviously.

“I can’t tell you that this is going to be a big splashy offseason. We spent a lot of money last year, we staffed our team, we made the playoffs again and a lot of those guys are coming back. We are going to fill the holes and get a little bit more athletic in the outfield. Look for some catching depth, try to get better on-base capability. Those are all things that we’re going to be looking to improve on in the offseason.”

Duquette sounded confident, with work still to be done, that the Orioles again will be in the thick of the playoff hunt in 2017.

“We’re going to have another good year,” he said before starting a roll call of returning players. “You’ve got (Manny) Machado coming back, you’ve got (J.J.) Hardy, you’ve got (Jonathan) Schoop, you’ve got (Chris) Davis, so your infield is solid. You’ve got (Adam) Jones in the outfield.

“We’re going to have to fill in at DH, outfield and catching, but I’m confident we can do that. You’ve got the great bullpen coming back, and of course you’ve got a great manager in Buck Showalter, so we’ve got a lot of good pieces here to have another competitive team.”

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