Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Wednesday he will hold to the philosophy of being a buyer as the non-waiver trade deadline looms no matter how the team performs over the next week.
"There's a lot of baseball to be played and there's a lot of teams in the hunt," Duquette said. "When you're a few games off the pace and you have a team that jells or you have a couple of additions that you make to your ballclub, and now you're winning the close games, you can turn your season around. So, we're still in there. We're still competing."
Duquette, who was with the club in New York on Wednesday, re-emphasized that the team will look to improve at the deadline in order to make a playoff run, with pitching and an outfield bat atop his wish list.
The Orioles entered Wednesday's game at Yankee Stadium five games behind the division-leading New York Yankees in the American League East and 3 ½ games out of the final wild-card spot.
"We're still contenders for the playoffs and we are going to approach our season as though we're going to advance to the playoffs, so we're going to continue to build and add to our team where we can," Duquette said.
Duquette said his focus has shifted more toward acquiring an additional outfield bat, but pitching depth – for the rotation and bullpen – is a priority.
"I think we need more pitching and we need more production from the outfield," Duquette said. "We need more offensive production from our outfield, there's no question about that. So, if we can improve trade in that area, that's something we need to take a look at."
Asked about an ESPN.com report that the Orioles appear willing to discuss trading right-hander Kevin Gausman, Duquette didn't squash the rumor, but said young pitching is always a hot topic at the deadline.
"There's a lot of teams that are looking for pitching and the first place they look is for young pitching that's emerging at the major league level, obviously, because they can have that player on their team for a long time and it would give them a solid foundation to any winning program," Duquette said. "So that's why a lot of young starting pitchers are traded. But we're glad we've got Kevin."
The Orioles are listening to all offers this time of the year, and no player is deemed untouchable, but the club would need a major haul to consider dealing Gausman - the likes of a future ace as well as multiple high-end controllable players.
The 24-year-old Gausman, who starts Wednesday against the Yankees, might be as important a piece to the club's future as ever, especially with pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey on the mend. Gausman is expected to be in the front end of the team's starting rotation next season.
"I think the organization has to continue to develop pitchers and a lot of your very best young pitchers have developmental work to do when they get to the big leagues," Duquette said. "It's important for us to continue to develop pitchers everywhere."
Manager Buck Showalter said he's on board with the buying approach.
"That's kind of the way we thought the whole time and will," he said. "When I look at adding things, I'm adding Steve Pearce coming off the DL, I'm adding Kevin Gausman. We've got [Jonathan Schoop] back, we've got Matt [Wieters] back. Not much better out there than what we've been able to add. Just trying to keep them on the field."