Here are some quick hits from tonight’s meeting with executive VP Dan Duquette…
*The Orioles advanced several trade proposals –most of which are pitching – and also have offers out to several free agents. Some of those offers are out to position players and some to pitchers, Duquette wouldn’t get into specifics.
*He did note that the Orioles were in on Minnesota’s Kevin Slowely before he was traded to the Rockies earlier today, and Baltimore has met several times with the Chicago White Sox as well. Asked about Carlos Quentin, Duquette said it was an interesting name, but wouldn’t comment any further.
*The Orioles resigned right-handed pitcher Brandon Erbe to a Minor League deal. Erbe, a local product, was released by the organization earlier this month.
*Duquette seemed relatively confident he will make a deal before these meetings are over, and he also noted that the team has several things in the works that involve different players, meaning they aren’t restricted to make just one trade. All things the Orioles are trying to do involve fortifying their Major League club. So while it’s possible they get a prospect or two in a potential trade, don’t look for it to be the centerpiece of their return.
*And finally, one more note that didn’t come out of Duquette’s session: executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira and manager Buck Showalter will go to the Dominican Republic later this week, with the plan being to watch free-agent outfielder Yoennis Cespedes workout on Saturday. MLB.com’s national reporter Jesse Sanchez breaks down the market for Cespedes here.
The Orioles want to make a trade to upgrade their pitching staff, but the problem is they don’t really have any trade chips.
Executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette said yesterday that Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are players he wants to build around and the team also isn’t in a spot to trade away their young pitching
They have received heavy interest on Robert Andino and could see if a team will overpay. But they also need an Andino-type on the team, not just as a utility infielder, but as a possible starting second baseman. No one knows if Brian Roberts will be ready to start the season, and –even if he is — it’s impossible to predict if he’ll be able to stay healthy and productive over a 162-game grind.
Jeremy Guthrie is the Orioles best trade chip, with the Rockies and Angels among the interested parties. But keep in mind he’s thrown 200 innings in the last three seasons and guys like that don’t exactly grow on trees. Given the current state of the Orioles rotation, it’s hard to justify trading away Guthrie. The organization would have to get some quality pitching back in return for Guthrie.
Here’s your latest roundup of Orioles rumors from this morning…
*While executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette didn’t shoot down interest in Prince Fielder in talking to MASN today, it’s not believed to be on the Orioles’ immediate agenda. The team needs pitching badly, and Fielder –while an enticing free-agent for the O’s – isn’t someone they are pursuing heavily. I’m told his name didn’t even come up at this morning’s briefing.
*What name is coming up all around baseball is Jim Johnson, who is a highly coveted reliever. Right now, the Orioles –who got a lot of activity on Johnson around the Trade Deadline – don’t seem intent on moving him although there’s plenty of interest already. Given the struggles of Kevin Gregg, Johnson is viewed as their closer if they can upgrade in the starting rotation.
*Former Orioles player Brady Anderson, who has been around the club as a special advisor of sorts, will be taking on an increased organizational role. There’s no official word yet on what his duties will cover, but it figures to include some scouting and some conditioning-type work.
*Also, I noted the other day in a blog post that there were rumblings over medical issues with Koren reliever Chong Tae-Hyon. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweeted earlier that the Orioles remain confident a deal will get down once they work through some medical issues. So, sounds like that’s heading in the right direction.
The Orioles search for a backup to catcher Matt Wieters could be over soon. Multiple reports on Thursday had Baltimore deep in talks with Texas regarding former top prospect Taylor Teagarden. A defensive minded catcher who is out of options, Teagarden wouldn’t command a large price, probably a Minor Leaguer or two, and would help add depth to the Orioles’ 40-man roster, which doesn’t have any catcher other than Wieters.
Just 25 years old, Wieters was selected to his first All-Star game last year but manager Buck Showalter would prefer to give the young backstop more rest this season. Wieters played in 139 games in 2010. The Baltimore Sun was the first to report that the two sides were in talks, and right now there is no deal in place although that could change in a hurry. The market for free agent catchers has been one of the most active in the early weeks of the Hot Stove season and new executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has made it no secret that it’s a positional hole he’d like to fill as soon as possible.
First, I wanted to note that the Orioles made it official in signing free agent infielder Matt Antonelli today. He is expected to compete for a job in Spring Training and will be used at second and third base.
And there could be more news on the way. Multiple reports on Monday had the Orioles in talks with Koren submariner Chong Tae-hyon. A free agent, Tae-hyon wouldn’t have to be posted and he would presumably be added to an Orioles’ bullpen that figures to undergo some vast changes this offseason.
As of early Monday evening, no deal has been reached with Chong, although word out of Korea is it’s a done deal pending medicals. New executive vice president of baseball Dan Duquette said in his initial press conference he was going to be aggressive internationally, and this would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Duquette didn’t comment on the reports that internationally that a deal with Chong is done but he did confirm that the club has a high level of interest in him, noting his pinpoint control and success on the world stage (most recently at the World Baseball Classic) as very intriguing.
“He has a lifetime ERA under 2,” Duquette said of Chong. “[A] unqiue delivery. He has gotten results on the world stage when its counted.”
Chong has started earlier in his career, but Duquette said the Orioles interest would be in using him as a late-inning arm.
It’s no secret that the Orioles would prefer to sign shortstop J.J. Hardy to an extension rather than dealing him at the Trade Deadline, a scenario that would take place only if the two sides can’t reach an agreement.
Hardy, who is represented by LSW Baseball, won’t sign a deal that’s any less than three years and, according to a Tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the two sides are talking about a contract in the $21-25 million range.
Hardy, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota, is making 5.85 million this year and will be a free agent at season’s end.
He’s never played with anything but a year-to-year contract and given that he has had an injury-prone career –most recently missing a month to start the season — signing an extension would give him stability. It would also help plug a hole for the Orioles, who are already looking at needing a first baseman, at least two starters and possibly other options at left field and second base.
Top shortstop prospect Manny Machado is believed to be about two years away, and if the Orioles are unable to extend Hardy they’d have to add shortstop to a long list of concerns. Either way, they will know before the Trade Deadline where thing stand with Hardy, although several recent reports have been positive the two sides can reach a deal.