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Observation deck: Dan Duquette should act quickly with Orioles' early start to offseason

Observation deck: Dan Duquette should act quickly with Orioles' early start to offseason
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette shares information and insight as pitchers and catchers gather for spring training at the Orioles' training facility near Ed Smith Stadium Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The uncertain offseason ahead: Free agents do not have the option of signing with other teams until early November, which means that the Orioles front office does have a real window to negotiate with any of the players they hope to keep.

It would have been more problematic if they were headed into the playoffs, but they managed to sign J.J. Hardy to a contract extension in the middle of their postseason run last October, so there's really no reason they can't get started on some things fairly soon.

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Realistically, it's unlikely that they are in any position to sign Chris Davis or Matt Wieters before they test the market, but they should move decisively to make offers to the likes of Darren O'Day and Gerardo Parra if they actually want them back.

Baseball operations chief Dan Duquette sometimes seems to be in slow motion early in the offseason, but he should see the value in making some moves quickly this winter to allay fear among the fan following of a total roster rebuild.

Parra would be a good start: Though Parra did not replicate the career offensive numbers he was putting up before he was traded to Baltimore, he still appears to be a good fit for an Orioles team that needs to be solid at both corner-outfield positions.

Parra is a former Gold Glove winner with a plus arm who can play either right of left. In a perfect world, the Orioles would sign him to a reasonable multiyear deal and then sign or acquire a top-flight run-production guy with proven on-base potential.

In other words, the same kind of guy they needed last winter but tried to fill those roles on the cheap.

It's what's up front that counts: Despite the offensive inconsistency that plagued the Orioles all season, manager Buck Showalter said recently that the problems at the plate have been magnified by the uneven performance of the starting rotation.

There really are only two ways to address that if you believe that agent Scott Boras will steer free agent Wei-Yin Chen elsewhere. The Orioles can promote a minor league starter or go out get a veteran with a track record for getting deep in games.

The top minor league candidate at the moment is Tyler Wilson, who pitched pretty well as a sometime starter at the big league level but is not projected to be a top-of-the-rotation guy. There are all sorts of options outside the organization, but don't hold your breath waiting for an expensive free agent to be put up top. That just doesn't happen here.

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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