Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette appeared on the Orioles' hot stove radio show on 105.7 The Fan on Thursday, and addressed a pair of free agents who have popped up as possible late additions to his ballclub — right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler.
When asked whether Gallardo would soon be joining the team, Duquette said, "we're trying to upgrade our pitching staff."
"A 13-game winner would do that, right?" Duquette said. "Gallardo's been a good pitcher over his career. He did well in the National League with Milwaukee, and he also pitched well this year with Texas and he pitched well in the playoffs. That's why teams would have interest in him.
"And he's been very dependable, I think. Thirty starts, seven years in a row. There's very few players that have done that. … That's something that we've been trying to add to our pitching staff, and we're still working on it."
According to an industry source, discussions with Gallardo were "moving in the right direction" Thursday. A three-year deal was being discussed, but there were still several parameters to work through, a source said.
Gallardo, who turns 30 later this month, was 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. He turned down a qualifying offer from Texas, meaning the Orioles would need to sacrifice their highest draft pick (14th overall) to sign him.
The Orioles appear to be more comfortable with forfeiting a draft pick now than they did earlier in the offseason, and doing so would possibly mean they could sign another free agent like Fowler. That would require a second draft pick to be forfeited, the 29th overall pick.
Duquette told the hosts that he would prefer not to give up a draft pick, but "if all our other options go away and that's what we're faced with, then we'll have to take a look at it."
On the show, Duquette said Fowler is "a pretty good ballplayer."
"He's developed into a good player the last couple years," Duquette said. "A really good right-handed hitter, he's a center fielder by trade, so he's got the tools. He throws good, he runs good. … He hit a home run in the playoffs, too. He's got a lot of good qualities."
Fowler, too, turned down a qualifying offer after hitting a career-high 17 home runs with a .250/.346/.411 line with 20 steals as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
Both are available, Duquette said, because of the fallout from the qualifying offer system. The top-tier players sign without teams worrying about the draft pick they will give up, but the next tier doesn't have that success.
"There's another level of player where that draft pick compensation is a deterrent to them finding the type of contract that they expected gong into the season," Duquette said. "So, we've seen this the last couple of years, where those players that are not in the very first tier of signing, a lot of times, they have to adjust their expectations as they get closer and closer to spring training."
Fowler could slot into the muddled right-field picture, with All-Star Adam Jones remaining in center field and Hyun-soo Kim signed from Korea to play left field.
Later in the show, manager Buck Showalter was asked if he would be willing to bet they would have at least one new face on the team before spring training begins. His answer was succinct: "Yes."
"Where we end up in the end of the day, we're going to be competitive with it," Showalter said. "I'm not coveting other people's players or free agents, but at the same time, anything that improves the Orioles, I'm for."