Duquette says the Orioles are still buyers
Despite a stretch in which the team has lost 17 of its last 24 games, including six of seven, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday the Orioles are still buyers on the trade market.
“We really need to stabilize our pitching, which is what we are looking for,” Duquette said in a phone interview with MLB.com Wednesday morning. “We still want to have another pitcher.”
Duquette said he doesn’t think “it’s feasible” for the club to add more than one starter given that there are too many other teams looking for pitching. The Orioles, who will not part with top prospects Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy, probably don’t have enough in their system to get more than effective rotation guy anyway.
The hope remains that the team’s young starters, who have all struggled mightily, can improve enough to help get the team on the right track. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Orioles aren’t looking to trade any of their young pitchers, but rather get them back on track. Currently, Brian Matusz and Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta are in Triple-A with Zach Britton struggling in his season debut and Chris Tillman unable to get out of the first inning in his second big-league start this year.
“My hope is that they establish themselves with the Orioles,” Duquette said. “That’s what they are trying to accomplish.
I think they should be competitive. They all have the skills, they have all the equipment to be Major League pitchers…I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be. We’ve got a lot of baseball left to go, but I don’t see why these pitchers, I don’t see anything holding them back from being competitive Major Leaguers.”
Middle infield depth remains a focus, Duquette said, but the Orioles are optimistic Robert Andino (left shoulder strain) will return in a few weeks and are going with a platoon of Steve Tolleson and Ryan Flaherty in the meantime. While adding a bat atop the order is on the wish list, nothing takes priority over finding another starter pitcher.
“If we got one starter and got a little bit better performance from who we have, we’d be OK,” Duquette said. “We need to be in contention, or we need to have the idea that what we are going to do will improve the team enough to make the playoffs. And you never know that for sure, but I think it’s important for us to have a good year. It’s important for us to finish strong and win more games than we lose and try to go for the pennant.”
Duquette has said previously that he has the ownerships backing to improve at the deadline and add pieces as he sees fit, and he didn’t back off that stance on Wednesday.
“Anything that we do we would do with the idea to strengthen the team for this year,” he said.
Even if the current club continues to falter?
“I hope we are in contention until the end of the month so we are adding,” Duquette said. “That’s the direction we are working on, and working toward.”