Duquette on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette just met with the media and while the organization hasn’t made any moves, Duquette seemed pretty confident something will get done over the next day or two.

Given the way the free agent market is progressing, Duquette expects that some names will come off the board –either in free agency or trade — in the next 36 hours and he said the Orioles are in play for several free agents. Given the way the Orioles have chosen to proceed –they will allocate most of their resources toward pitching — it’s fair to speculate that most of those offers are for arms.

He also squelched the exaggerated reports the Orioles are in on free agent slugger Prince Fielder, by basically saying upgrading the pitching remains first and foremost. The organization doesn’t have the funds to do that and make a serious play at Fielder.

On the trade front, Duquette said he met with about 12 teams and talked to six or seven more on Monday, with plans to touch base with a few more times before the night ends. Roughly 65 percent of those talks revolved around pitching, a market that seems –right now — to have more available relievers than starters.

As for who the Orioles could deal in return, Duquette said he views Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis as players to build around. There’s been heavy interest in reliever Jim Johnson and infielder Robert Andino, but neither are likely to be moved given their value to the team. Johnson could be used as a starter or the team’s closer while Andino is insurance given second baseman Brian Roberts’ uncertain health.

Here are a few highlights from Duquette’s session. Be sure to check Orioles.com later for a full story.

[on what type of reliever the Orioles are looking for]

“Good ones. We are looking for good ones that can get out both leftie and righties. And then if we have some good ones then the manager can decide when to employ them. If they can get out righties and lefties than the manager doesn’t have to work that hard on the timing. So, that’s the kind of pitchers we are looking for.”

[On Jim Johnson’s future being up in the air, in terms of being a starter or reliever]

“Either way, we have a lot of work to do to add to our pitching staff.  That’s the challenge that we have. We are really trying to address that.”

[if you can’t find any late-inning arms is Johnson the team’s closer?]

“You have to talk to Buck [Showalter]. I know we need more and better pitchers to be competitive and that’s really what we are trying, we are trying to address that need.”

[on if the team needs to definitely sign a DH]

“I think Buck’s preference is to have more than one option to DH, right? So that he can use some of his everyday players. And that’s fine. So, we are going to address the DH, but it’s not front and center right now.”

[the Orioles stance on Prince Fielder]

“People want to talk about Fielder because they think he’s a good matchup with the city, ‘cause of his left-handed swing and short porch beneath the warehouse, right? So, they’re talking about it. We do have some interest in a number of free agents. I’m not sure why it keeps coming back to Prince Fielder.

We got a lot of work to do to build our pitching staff. We were in the middle of the pack this past year with runs scored. If we are going to be championship team, we are going to have to increase our offense. But I’ll tell you right now, we are probably going to direct more of our resources into pitching this time around then we are at other positions. Because of the need of the team.”

[On if the Orioles are interested in any big-name free agent pitchers]

“We are in play on a couple of players that w think can help our team and fit into our market. So, we are trying to make value-based investment decisions to improve the team.”

[On Brian Roberts]

“I hope Brian Roberts is healthy and ready to go. We are  encouraged by some of the recent reports. But we’ll have to wait and see on that.”

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