Ureña linked to Orioles before waiver claim

The Orioles might have landed their new utility infielder Friday night by claiming Richard Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays.

It took a while, but they finally got him.

I sifted through a series of articles I posted in January 2015 about the Blue Jays’ interest in hiring Orioles executive Dan Duquette as their president and CEO - news that initially broke on our flight to San Diego for the Winter Meetings.

The teams discussed a collection of prospects that would have been sent to the Orioles as compensation for letting Duquette out of a contract that had four years remaining on it.

One person close to the situation told me there were no real negotiations because the Orioles rejected the Blue Jays’ offers. I heard multiple times that a deal never was close.

“They were advised that what they were proposing was not acceptable,” a source said.

Orioles-cap-shades-and-glove-sidebar.jpgA bunch of names surfaced over this period, not all of them accurate. I was able to confirm that three of the prospects dangled by the Jays were pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Daniel Norris and catcher Max Pentecost. Hoffman was the ninth overall selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and Pentecost was the 11th.

The fourth player? Nineteen-year-old shortstop prospect Richard Ureña.

The Orioles had some medical concerns about Pentecost, who never reached the majors and retired in April 2019 after leaving spring training.

The Blue Jays traded Hoffman to the Rockies in July 2015, a deal that also included current Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He’s posted a 6.11 ERA and 1.591 WHIP over parts of four major league seasons.

Norris was part of the 2015 trade with the Tigers that sent left-hander David Price to the Blue Jays. He’s 15-30 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.407 WHIP in six seasons.

Ureña, meanwhile, has a solid chance of breaking camp with the Orioles because his primary position is shortstop and they need someone to back up José Iglesias. He’s got to be ranked as the favorite.

The offensive part of Ureña’s game feels secondary to his defense and versatility. He’s batted .253/.300/.336 with 14 doubles and two home runs in 263 plate appearances.

Being out of minor league options also could give Ureña an edge. The Orioles have the freedom to send down other candidates without first passing them through waivers.

Stevie Wilkerson and Richie Martin fall into that category.

To be determined is how the Orioles construct their bench with the new 26-man roster. Do they carry two super-utility types or two extra outfielders?

There’s more work to be done before opening day, but executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias found his shortstop and most likely a utility player. The rotation remains a priority and the club is nearing a deal with a veteran catcher, according to a source.

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