Dan Duquette on Ryan Webb trade, Chris Tillman and more in radio interview

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette was my guest Sunday on the “Orioles Baseball Tonight” radio show on the O’s flagship station, 105.7 The Fan.

Among the topics we discussed was the recent trade between the Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. On Thursday, the O’s sent pitcher Ryan Webb, minor league catcher Brian Ward and a competitive balance draft pick (No. 74 overall) to the Dodgers for pitcher Ben Rowan and catcher Chris O’Brien. That duo has been assigned to Double-A Bowie.

duquette-sunglasses.jpgFour days before the trade, on opening day, the Orioles had designated Webb for assignment. I asked Duquette to explain how trading a player that had been DFA impacted making that deal. He explained that trade talks actually began even before Webb was DFA.

“We had some discussions with a number of teams about Ryan Webb and we thought we were going to close a deal with another team before the season started. When that deal didn’t come together late in spring training, we started looking for some other trading partners,” he said.

“We were able to engage the Dodgers late Saturday night and those trade discussions carried into the start of the season. We had a pretty good idea of the structure of the deal with the Dodgers at the time we had designated Ryan Webb for assignment. But if we weren’t very far down the track with the Dodgers, that would have hurt our position in the negotiations and we wouldn’t have had the leverage that we had.

“But I had confidence we were going to be able to make that deal when we designated Webb. In other situations, I wouldn’t designate the player and then continue down the track with a trade. I had a good sense that we could make a deal with the Dodgers and get back a couple of players that we liked.”

Webb, by the way, may never play for the Dodgers. They outrighted him to Triple-A Oklahoma City, according to the MLB.com transactions page. He had not yet reported to the team. Since Webb has more than five years of major league service, he can refuse an outright assignment, although it’s not yet clear whether he’s done that.

Duquette has had discussions with pitcher Chris Tillman’s agent about a possible long-term contract for the right-hander, who cannot be a free agent until after the 2017 season. Where does it all stand right now?

“Well, once the season starts, we don’t talk about extensions. We tried in the spring and we weren’t able to get anything done. So that’s being tabled for right now,” Duquette said.

But is there a chance the talks could be resumed?

“There is always an opportunity to resume it, but we’re not going to be talking about it even if we do resume it,” Duquette said.

tillman-pitching-black-alcs.jpgI asked Duquette if progress toward an extension had been made before the most recent talks were tabled.

“Well, we had a good discussion with Chris about his contract for this season,” Duquette said. “He got a nice raise based on the work that he did and we have a good idea about what his long-term aspirations are, so I thought that was real helpful. We are real glad to have Chris out there pitching for us.

“Since Chris has come back up to the big leagues in the second half of 2012, he’s been one of the more dependable pitchers in the American League. He’s done a nice job for us. He’s quietly become a solid, dependable starting pitcher and a leader on our ballclub.”

Duquette also talked about the Orioles’ outlook for the season in the American League East race.

“This American League East is always a tough division,” he said. “You’ve got the Red Sox and the Yankees. They are well-heeled organizations and they’ve got a lot of resources and we have to battle against them. Tampa Bay is always tough and has a lot of good pitching depth and Toronto is an improved club this year.

“But I like our ballclub. I like the return of our pitching depth, our starters and the experience in our bullpen. We still have a lot of power, too.”

Norfolk’s K club: Three Triple-A Norfolk pitchers combined for 18 strikeouts on Sunday and the Tides lead the International League with 49 strikeouts during a 2-2 start.

Starter Zach Davies, making his Triple-A debut, pitched five scoreless innings and fanned eight in a 9-2 win at Charlotte. Then Pat McCoy struck out four over 1 2/3 innings and Steve Johnson fanned six in 2 1/3 innings.

Steve Clevenger, Henry Urrutia and Garabez Rosa homered. Urrutia is batting .462 while Dariel Alvarez and Christian Walker are both hitting .118.

Right-hander Branden Kline fanned 10 in five scoreless innings as Double-A Bowie beat Richmond 2-1. Mychal Givens picked up his second save. The two players the O’s acquired from the Dodgers last week debuted for the Baysox. O’Brien went 0-for-3 and Rowan gave up one run and two hits over an inning of relief. The Baysox are 2-2.

Single-A Frederick improved to 3-1, beating Winston-Salem 5-3 in 11 innings. Outfielder Brenden Webb’s two-run homer in the 11th gave the Keys the walk-off win. On the mound, the trio of Nik Nowottnick, Dylan Rheault and Jimmy Yacabonis combined for 5 2/3 innings of three-hit shutout relief.

Making his first appearance with the Keys on an major league rehab assignment, David Lough added a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning, going 0-for-2 at the plate. He played six innings and served as the Keys’ leadoff batter and left fielder.

Alex Murphy went 2-for-5 with four RBIs as Single-A Delmarva beat Greensboro 8-5 to begin the season at 3-1. Conor Bierfeldt went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Dariel Delgado got the win in relief with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

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