SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ubaldo Jimenez's signing is official, and the introductory news conference is over, but that doesn't mean that the Orioles front office is done with this year's roster renovation.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette never sleeps when it comes to searching for additional help, so don't be surprised if he has one more move up his sleeve. The Orioles still could look to upgrade the lineup with another productive hitter to help fill the designated hitter role, and the name that has been most prominent in DH speculation is free agent Kendrys Morales.
A club source indicated this week that ownership is willing to make one more significant expenditure to put the Orioles in position to compete for the American League East title.
Of course, Morales is another one of the small group of free agents who got a qualifying offer from his former team, so signing him requires the loss of the club’s top remaining draft choice. The Orioles already have given up their first-round pick in this year’s draft and traded their compensation pick for Bud Norris last year. Signing Morales would cost them the 55th overall pick, but that's probably not a serious obstacle.
It’s certainly possible to get a very good player at that point in the draft, but that the odds of that pick garnering the club an impact player for the 2017 season or beyond should not outweigh the importance of maximizing the team’s chance to reaching the playoffs this year.
"You know, it’s always a consideration,’’ Duquette said. “Getting the dependable starting pitcher is very important. Really, what we’ve done is we traded our 35th pick for Norris, who won 10 games last year, and we gave up our first pick this year for Ubaldo, who won 13 games last year. We made that conscious choice to put those resources into our current team on the starting pitching staff and that’s what we felt we had to do to stabilize our team and be competitive in the AL East.”
Duquette said that the front office also knows the value of the 55th overall pick and will consider that as it ponders a further acquisition.