Who do the Orioles add for the stretch run?
Usually the prevailing thought at this point is, "Who do the Orioles deal at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline?"
But this month, the Orioles appear to be buyers. One, because at 45-40 they are in second place in the AL East and currently a postseason contender. Secondly, the Orioles don't have any coveted veteran trade chips this year to be sellers. Only infielder Mark Reynolds and reliever Kevin Gregg fall into that category, and neither will bring back much -- if anything -- in a trade.
So Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is wheeling his empty cart up and down the starting pitching aisles.
Duquette has already made overtures for starting pitching, including the market's most coveted prize, Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke (left). Pretty much every established veteran starter that's potentially available will catch the Orioles' interest: Greinke and his teammate Shaun Marcum, the Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza, Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster (right), the Philadelphia Phillies' Cole Hamels, Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, Arizona's Joe Saunders (center), Seattle's Jason Vargas and the Oakland¿s Bartolo Colon, among others.
The problem is that the Orioles' farm system is top heavy and shallow -- with right-hander Dylan Bundy and shortstop Manny Machado considered the only potential difference-makers. Both are relatively untouchable, especially for a two-month rental.
That makes getting a top-tier pitcher unlikely, unless an opposing club still sees one of the Orioles' demoted starters -- Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta or Zach Britton -- as the centerpiece of a deal.
The best guess is that once the jockeying and bidding is done, the Orioles will settle for a lower-level starter such as a Rodriguez, Vargas, Saunders or Colon -- someone who can likely improve the rotation but not anchor it. Regardless, Duquette has shown an aggressiveness in his short stint with the Orioles, so a deadline deal for a pitcher is more likely than not.
They also could attempt to make a deal to shore up their infield defense and get more consistency out of left field, but for now starting pitching is the priority. (July 11, 2012)
The Orioles have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, a club source has confirmed.
The 25-year-old Urrutia received a signing bonus of $778,500.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette said the team hasn't officially signed Urrutia, but he said the player was taking a physical.
"We like him. He is a good hitter," Duquette said. "He’s had several good years in Cuba. He’s established residency in Haiti. Currently, he is in the Dominican.”
While Urrutia didn’t draw the attention that fellow Cuban defector outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler did -- he doesn't project to have the upside of the other two -- the 6-foot-3, 180-pound corner outfielder is still one of the top players available out of Cuba.
He is a switch-hitter with a line-drive stroke who has a better swing from the left side of the plate, according to a scouting report from Baseball America.
Urrutia batted .397/.461/.597 with 12 homers in 305 at-bats in his final season playing in Cuba.
Urrutia also has average power, but not the kind typical for corner outfielders, the report said. He’s a good athlete and could begin his career in Double-A.
Baseball America first reported the signing.