Despite it being the club’s primary strength last season, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has not ruled out the possibility of improving his bullpen – and one consideration is a reunion with popular former Oriole right-hander Koji Uehara.
The Orioles have already met with Japanese free agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who would be a set-up man in the majors, and they are at least considering other late-inning relievers, including Uehara, who played with the Orioles from 2009 until he was dealt away in July 2011.
Although he doesn’t like to talk about specific free agents, Duquette said about Uehara: “He’s on our list, we like him. He’s been here before.”
The 37-year-old Uehara, who compiled a 1.75 ERA in 37 games with the Texas Rangers in 2012 after rebounding from a midseason lat injury, still maintains a residence in Baltimore. He broke down in tears when the Orioles dealt him to Texas for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis.
The Orioles have inquired about several other relievers, and, according to one industry source, have shown preliminary interest in Kameron Loe, a 31-year-old right-hander who was 6-5 with a 4.61 ERA in 70 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012. He began his career pitching for current Orioles manager Buck Showalter in Texas.
One club source, however, said Loe doesn’t appear to be an obvious fit for the Orioles.
Duquette is more actively searching for a middle of the order bat than any other component, but that doesn’t mean he won’t add more arms if a deal seems prudent.
“We’re always looking for qualified major league pitchers,” he said.