“No,” he said, “we haven’t advanced it that far.”
It’s not for a lack of interest in Machado, who entered tonight batting .312/.380/.591 with 15 doubles, 18 home runs and 50 RBIs in 64 games and leading American League shortstops in voting for the All-Star Game in D.C.
The Memorial Day marker has passed and the Orioles are more open for business than earlier in the year.
“Well, we’re starting to look at, to see if we can get a little stronger focus on our club for the future,” Duquette said while standing on the field during batting practice. “We’ve dug ourselves a hole for the ‘18 season, so it’s probably about time to turn our attention to the future seasons.
“Manny’s having a good year. He’s been disciplined, he’s been making all the plays, hitting for power. And he’s done a good job. I think last year he had a rough first half, but this year he’s had a really strong first half. Manny’s a good player, one of the better players in the league.”
The Orioles fielded offers for Machado at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., but denied that they were actively shopping him. Teams were reluctant to part with multiple top pitching prospects for a rental, with Machado giving no indication that he’ll negotiate an extension prior to hitting free agency.
The Cardinals, Cubs and Phillies remain interested in Machado, though Duquette wouldn’t offer specifics on his conversations.
“Well, there’s more clubs that have identified that they’re contenders, right?” Duquette said. “In the wintertime, clubs weren’t sure how where they would be in the race, but now I think they’ve got a better idea. There’s a lot of clubs in the race that are active, trying to add to their ball club.”
Asked about the pressure attached to moving a huge trade chip like Machado, Duquette replied, “Well, the market will dictate that. I’m sure there will be a lot of teams trying to add to their club.”
Duquette indicated that players under team control beyond the 2018 season aren’t involved in current discussions.
“People are looking at our pending free agents,” he said. “That’s generally how the market works this time of the year.”
The Orioles seem intent on acquiring multiple young pitching prospects and ideally would like an infielder who could replace Machado. However, Duquette declined to address whether the demands placed over the winter have gone unchanged.
“Whatever we do, we want to add to our club and make it stronger for the future,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do that for a couple years.”
Closer Zach Britton has come off the disabled list and is already is attracting more scout to Camden Yards. The Orioles nearly dealt him to the Astros last summer.
“Zach is just getting off to a start, so let’s see how he pitches,” Duquette said. “He’s healthy. He’s been throwing good in the minors on his rehab. His stuff’s been good. His ball’s been moving with good control, so I would expect that he’d be back pitching well as soon as we get him out there. He feels good. He’s encouraged by how he’s pitching.”
The Orioles are avoiding the word “rebuild,” but a 19-46 record - the worst in the majors - necessitates serious changes to the roster and the movement of some of the higher profile pending free agents.
“It’s disappointing for everybody when your ball club doesn’t do what it’s expected to do,” Duquette said. “The good news is our pitching’s been decent. Obviously, we’ve been struggling to score runs. Our defense needs to get stronger if we’re going to contend. So, we have a lot of work to do.”
Duquette laughed and added, “We have several weeks of work to do, yeah. In the next day.”