LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette supressed speculation that the club was nearing a deal with a free-agent closer on Tuesday here at baseball’s winter meetings.
The day began with rumors that the Orioles were close to signing free-agent closer Grant Balfour, but Duquette told local media late Tuesday afternoon that those reports were way ahead of reality.
“There’s a lot of speculation out there with the closer thing and I think the speculation is pretty far ahead of the market and our involvement in the market,” Duquette said. “We did make some progress on that in terms of we have a better idea of what the market is there, but we’ve got a lot more work to do to actually build our pitching staff.”
Duquette said while he’s tested the closer market, he hasn’t made an offer to a free-agent closer yet.
“The speculation that we have a deal or are close to a deal, that’s not accurate,” Duquette said. “I don’t know why there’s so much speculation out there. Maybe it’s because we haven’t been able to close a deal and sign a player, but we’re continuing to work to build our pitching staff.
Asked whether he’s still confident the Orioles can acquire a player – other than their likely selection in the Rule 5 draft – Duquette said “I hope so.”
Duquette also said that he hasn’t spoken to agent Scott Boras this week about possible extensions for catcher Matt Wieters or first baseman Chris Davis nor does he expect to this week at the meetings.
“There’s a time of the year to do that and that’s not right now,” Duquette said.
In signing a free-agent starter, Duquette said again that he wouldn’t only consider a one-year deal and would consider signing an arm to a deal of more than two years on a case-by case basis.
“I guess it depends on the pitcher and what the risk is and what the price is,” Duquette said. “I think you have to look one closely and see if it works for your team.”
In terms of trades, Duquette added that teams have expressed interest in the Orioles’ core players and younger players. He seems more willing to give up the younger players.
“A lot of teams are interested in our players that are core players but they’re core players for us, so a lot of those discussions are non-starters,” Duquette said. “I’m encouraged that we do have some interest in some of our younger players so I think that’s encouraging for us, it’s encouraging for our major league team whether they’re coming up to help the team or for us to be able to trade them. We have a little bit more depth. It’s not significantly more, but we have more.”