Had the opportunity to talk to Orioles' vice president Dan Duquette today about the trade market and the club's thinking heading into Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline.
We'll have a much larger story on that – and some potential key targets for the club online later today and in Tuesday's paper – but I wanted to share some of Duquette's key quotes a little sooner.
Most important, Duquette said that the perception the organization's farm system is top-heavy is not accurate. There are plenty of teams interested in the club's minor league depth beyond the obvious, well-known prospects, he said. I, for one, -- in talking to people around the league -- speculated that the Orioles could be hampered in their pursuit of trading for veterans because their farm system, although improving, is still somewhat depleted. But Duquette said that is not his sense.
"We do have the wherewithal to make additional trades," he said. "Our farm system is maturing and we are getting a little more depth to it and teams like a lot of our prospects."
There was a national report today that said the Orioles would consider trading top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who is recovering from elbow surgery, in the right deal. Frankly, that's always been the case with Bundy and Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop and, now, Eduardo Rodriguez. It's just that the Orioles haven't seen offers that they felt were worthy of dealing one of their upper echelon young players. This offseason, they kicked around a swap of Bundy for outfielder Wil Myers, before Kansas City dealt Myers to Tampa Bay in the James Shields trade.
And that willingness to listen seems to be the situation still. Bundy, Gausman, etc., are not untouchable – and haven't been – but the club would have to be overwhelmed to deal them. And, know this: The veteran players that are currently available on the trade market don't come close to landing a top prospect.
"We are guarding the cupboard very carefully as it relates to our very best prospects," Duquette said. "But, again, we have a chance to make the playoffs and you have to look at every possibility very carefully to help improve your team today, which we are doing."
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More Duquette on dealing prospects: "We have some good players that are well-regarded by other clubs. We'd like to have those players stay with our club for a long time. … Usually at this stage contenders are looking for established players for younger players. Right now, we are looking to get established players to get our club [to the playoffs]. Having said that, we have some really good prospects that we'd like to give a trial at the major league level first."
There's also the sense that the Orioles don't want to take on major salary – again, something that has been fairly consistent – but Duquette said that he fully believes he has the financial backing of owner Peter Angelos if there is a deal that makes sense for the team now.
"Our objective is to get back to the playoffs and I believe we have the resources to help us get back to the playoffs and ownership is very supportive of achieving that goal," Duquette said.
My guess is that is within reason – I can't ever see the Orioles landing a Cliff Lee and spending more than $25 million year for a pitcher. That kind of investment for a pitcher goes against the histories of Angelos and, for that matter, Duquette.
And my take is you can also cross Chicago's Jake Peavy off your list. Too much injury history for the quality of players/amount of money it would take to land him.
There are a lot of names floating out there as far as potential designated hitters are concerned. Duquette's not going to talk about them specifically, but he did discuss the need for another bat.
"We could look for offensive help in an area or maybe a couple guys we have brought up can spark the ballclub," he said, referring to newly promoted outfielders L.J. Hoes and Henry Urrutia. "I think Hoes and Urrutia give us good on-base capabilities to add to our run production. Both were very good in getting on base in the minor leagues and they control the strike zone," Duquette said. "How much power they will hit with in the major leagues remains to be seen, but certainly they have a good approach to control the strike zone and to get on base. And that's something we need."