Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette's message to season-ticket holders was a clear one: "We still have work to do."
Duquette and Orioles manager Buck Showalter kicked off this year’s annual Orioles FanFest with a question-and-answer session for season-ticket holders.
Duquette said he’s still trying to upgrade the club’s pitching staff and would like to add a veteran starting pitcher by free agency.
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Meanwhile, fans at Baltimore Convention Center were asking whether the club was going to make an announcement on a signing -- the team has shown interest in veteran right-handers A.J. Burnett and Bronson Arroyo -- at FanFest.
But Duquette told fans that while the club is still trying to land a free agent, that’s not the way the Orioles will build a winner.
“If we’re going to be good year in and year out, we’re going to bring up our best players from our farm system, and we’re going to bring up other players like [Matt] Wieters, and we’re going to bring up players like Manny Machado to make an impact on the team, and we’re going to go to the major league free-agent market to supplement our roster,” Duquette said. “That’s the only that we can compete year in and year out.
“It’s worth repeating because I read about all these other players, and it’s not realistic for a lot of these players to come here,” he added. “We operate within this market within our resources, and we’re going to give you a competitive ballclub. We’re going to give you good young players who love to play for this man [Showalter]. He’s going to have them prepared to the top of his ability day in and day out. And we’re going to go out and compete against the best teams in the business. But we’re going to do it through out international scouting, our draft and our farm system.”
Duquette said he has told shortstop J.J. Hardy, who becomes a free agent after this season, that the team would like to talk with him about an extension and that will occur between now and the beginning of the season.
He added that the team made Chris Davis a long-term extension offer this offseason, but it “really hasn’t progressed.” He said the Orioles have engaged long-term extension talk with Matt Wieters the past two springs with no success.
Both players become free agents after the 2015 season and are represented by Scott Boras, who frequently lets his clients test the free-agent market.
“We have made an effort and we’re going to continue to do that,” Duquette said of extending Davis and Wieters. “We have good players and core players. Obviously, we’d like for them to stick around for the long term, and we’re going to do what we can within the reasonable limits of our market to make that happen.”
“[Boras] has a history of taking his players to free agency,” he added. “He thinks that’s the most productive way for his players. Him having taken Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency and getting that big contract was certainly a statement by Scott in the way he goes about doing business. Having said that, Matt Wieters is on our ballclub. I saw a lot of reports about the team was going to trade him. The team did not try to actively trade Matt. We’re glad we have him. ... We’re going to try to get Matt’s contract resolved this week so we don’t go to arbitration.”