Duquette on O's: 'We have a pretty good ballclub today'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Winter Meetings are over and the Baltimore Orioles are ready for the 2013 season. As Dan Duquette ended his time at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations summed up his team.

"We have a pretty good ballclub today as it's presently constituted," Duquette said.

The Orioles didn't leave with another big bat, but they did sign Nate McLouth to a one-year contract on Wednesday. That takes care of the outfielders, Duquette believes.

He wanted to add another arm to the bullpen, and in Thursday morning's Rule 5 draft, Baltimore selected left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland from Cleveland.

It's hard to picture McFarland actually making the Orioles. Unlike last year when Ryan Flaherty was basically on scholarship after being taken as a Rule 5, the Orioles have a full pitching staff.

Even though the team could sign another starter, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez are already in place. Tsuyoshi Wada should be ready early in the season after he completes his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman may not be far behind. The Orioles have a surplus of young pitching. Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter and Steve Johnson could start, be a long reliever or used as trade chips for that longed-for big bat.

"We made progress in our trade discussions - some of them developed and we can make a deal. Others fell by the wayside," Duquette said.

The deal for Billy Butler, Michael Morse, Garrett Jones or another solid hitter didn't materialize, not yet, but that didn't stop Duquette from projecting a lineup.

If the Orioles move Chris Davis to first base, Duquette said he would be satisfied with a Wilson Betemit/Danny Valencia platoon at designated hitter.

With Brian Roberts, Flaherty, Alexi Casilla and Yamaico Navarro, there are plenty of second base candidates, and the other positions on the field are accounted for.

Re-signing McLouth and having a healthy Nolan Reimold in the outfield will make the Orioles nearly whole.

"We have a full complement of players that can play in the field and we have a good pitching staff that's returning so we have a very competitive club as it's currently constituted," Duquette said.

The Orioles bullpen with Jim Johnson, Darren O'Day, Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton and Brian Matusz looks to be strong. The 23-year-old McFarland, who was 16-8 with a 4.07 ERA at Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, will have to be extremely fortunate and talented to be kept with the team all season.

"This kid has the experience and the stuff and the track record to be a major league pitcher," Duquette said.

Baltimore, which begins spring training in Sarasota, Fla. on Feb. 10, will look to add undervalued players. It's doubtful they'll be able to re-sign Mark Reynolds, who was not offered a contract last week, and Joe Saunders, who's a free agent.

Saunders would be an effective fifth starter, but the Orioles are waiting to see if his market doesn't develop.

His agents met with Duquette this week, but nothing developed.

"That's still an option," Duquette said.

"We're going to look to add a couple of things to our ball club, but if we were to break [camp] today, we've got everybody returning except for Reynolds and Saunders right now, but I think we've got some capable people that can do the job that they did for us."

In case the Orioles don't make a trade for the solid bat or sign one as a free agent, Duquette likes Conor Jackson as a fallback.

The seven-year major league veteran, who can play first base or the outfield was signed to a minor league contract on Wednesday.

It's home to work on shoring up the team, adding pieces where he can for Duquette. An extension for Buck Showalter, who he endorsed heartily on Thursday, is probably near. "Our manager is tops," Duquette said. Hiring a third-base coach will be coming, too.

"Things are happening every day for the Orioles," Duquette said. "We're working all the time."