Peter Schmuck

Dan Duquette's roster roulette

Baltimore Orioles vice president Dan Duquette is surrounded by recording devices, eager to capture his thoughts as he fields reporters' questions, at Orioles FanFest 2015 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

There's no doubt that Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will make you scratch your head a few times every offseason.

In between more significant transactions, he wheels and deals on the fringes of the trade and free-agent markets and shuffles his 40-man roster like it's a deck of souvenir Orioles playing cards.


This week's acquisition of absolutely unpronounceable pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne is just another example.

Duquette picked up the intriguing Cuban pitcher from the San Diego Padres for minor leaguer Jean Cosme on Thursday and made room for him by designating left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser for assignment. He made a similar switch after purchasing the contract of outfielder L.J. Hoes from the Houston Astros, designating him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster when he acquired outfielder Efren Navarro from the Los Angeles Angels.


Hoes cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk on Thursday. Riefenhauser, who was a throw-in when the Orioles acquired slugger Mark Trumbo from the Seattle Mariners for Steve Clevenger, might get claimed off waivers because he's a 26-year-old left-hander, but might also end up with an outright assignment to Norfolk.

If it seems like Duquette is just making it up as he goes along, that appearance probably is not entirely deceiving, but the end result is a deeper organizational roster with a few inexpensive wild cards that manager Buck Showalter might end up needing at some point during the season.

Critics can certainly point out that some of those backfill moves would not be necessary if the Orioles had a better stable of homegrown prospects, but they'll just have to be patient. That situation should improve in June when the Orioles get a chance to cash in on a large number of selections in the early rounds of the amateur draft.