LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - Well, not every topic concerning the Orioles involves Manny Machado, it turns out. The club, by the way, is still looking for several starting pitchers. And the quest for pitching might end with one or more hurlers coming to Baltimore via the trade route.
In a one-on-one interview this afternoon with MASNsports.com, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said some of the club’s young outfielders are drawing interest in trade talks.
“I was heartened today. Couple of clubs - they like our young outfielders and they requested them in our trade discussions,” he said. “Several of our young outfielders clubs like. Which is good because we like them, too. We like Austin Hays, we like Cedric Mullins, we like DJ Stewart.
“We’re going to get a chance to look at all of them this spring and see if they can help our ballclub. You’ve got a switch-hitter there in Mullins. You have a lefty hitter with power to the opposite field in Stewart and a pretty complete ballplayer in Hays. We’ve got three pretty good-looking outfielders with complementary skills and that was reflected by the other clubs in the discussions we had today. So that to me was encouraging.”
So is that the match that could bring the Orioles a pitcher. A deal that involves a young outfielder?
“Well, I don’t want to make that leap of faith. But we’re still looking for pitching and in our quest for pitching we have found that clubs like our outfielders,” Duquette said.
Clubs also like Machado and the Orioles continued today to have trade discussions involving their star third baseman, who has one year left on his contract. But while the Machado situation has grabbed the headlines right now, Duquette said the club continues to pursue talent on several fronts.
“There seems to be a lot of focus on it today,” Duquette said. “It is a story that national media has picked up. That story has resonated around the baseball world and clubs are checking in on Manny. So we’ve been working on that.
“We are still trying to get some starting pitching for our ballclub and we’re looking for a left-handed hitter. And we can use some help in utility around the infield. So we’ve kept our focus on that in our discussions with other clubs and with agents. We’re continuing to move along. But there is a lot of interest in Manny and the club has a lot of decisions to make. There should be a lot of interest in Manny. He’s a terrific player.”
I asked Duquette if Machado having just one year left of club control will temper the offers the Orioles might get for him and make it more difficult for Baltimore to accept a deal.
“Well, I will just give you my experience on the other side of the coin,” he said. “I remember, with another ballclub I was with, we picked up Pedro Martinez and we traded young players for him knowing there was a risk we couldn’t re-sign. We took the opportunity to do the deal. We did sign him. But we knew when we made the trade, there was a possibility we might not sign him. But we willingly gave the players up because of the caliber of the talent. And I would think in the situation where the player is really good, the clubs will be happy to acquire him.”
Duquette said today the team has not had any extensive contract talks with Machado this winter. Does the club have any hope left to re-sign him at this point?
“Well, I’m not sure how this is going to play out,” Duquette said. “There is a lot of focus on Manny and the Orioles have some big decisions to make in regard to their roster and this is a big year for everybody. He has one year left on his deal and that is certainly something that the club could consider. I think a lot of that depends on the market.”
Wilkerson suspended: The office of the commissioner announced today that Orioles minor league infielder Steve Wilkerson has received a 50-game suspension without pay following a positive test for amphetamine, a stimulant in violation of the minor league Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The suspension of Wilkerson, who is currently on the roster of Triple-A Norfolk, will be effective at the start of the International League’s 2018 season.
Between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie this past season, Wilkerson combined to hit .305/.375/.423 with 23 doubles, eight homers, seven steals, 45 RBIs and an OPS of .798. He then went to the Arizona Fall League. In 23 games with Salt River, Wilkerson hit .317/.396/.512 with three doubles, five triples, a homer and 10 RBIs. Just yesterday, he was named to the AFL’s Top Prospects Team, which was selected by AFL managers and coaches.
Recently I wrote about Wilkerson in this entry.