Duquette holds court
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette just held court with the media about Day 1 of the Winter Meetings and said the club met with four teams on potential trades and 3-4 agents to discuss free agent possibilities.
The focus remains on adding a position player to bolster the lineup, which is where they have been directing almost all their efforts.
The club did not meet with the agents of Nate McLouth or Joe Saunders, two free agents they want to bring back, and they’ve had some discussions about adding a reliever –touching base with both left-handers and right-handers– although that’s clearly secondary to adding a bat right now.
The Orioles had a strong showing at this afternoon’s luncheon, where Fred Ferreira was named International Scout of the Year. Duquette said the club also spent some time today going over next year’s contracts and what they anticipate having to pay in arbitration.
“We have to fund an additional $22 million in salary raises,” Duquette said. “The good news is those players are going to be on our roster and they earned the money by having good years. So I think it’s important for people to focus on, the team is paying the players the money that are producing for the ballclub.”
Asked about possible payroll constraints, Duquette declined to discuss a specific payroll number although it’s believed the Orioles will stay in the $85-90 million range.
“We have enough money to field a competitive team,” he said. “We have a foundation for a competitive team and I also know that this past year’s team connected with the fans so people have more interest in the team, which will allow us to be a little bit more aggressive as we put our team together. Be a little bit more aggressive in terms of the amount of money that we can put toward our Major League payroll.”
It was mentioned that the Orioles were ranked in the middle in terms of payroll last season, but Duquette corrected that.
“We are closer to the bottom 10,” he said, “and I don’t think we are going to get in the top 10 anytime soon.”
“Our market is our market. Our market hasn’t really changed dramatically, but we have connected with the fans so there’s more interest in our market. But the market size, and what’s available to field the team, that hasn’t really changed. What has changed is that our ballclub was good on the field and we’ve connected with the fans so there’s more interest. To focus on a number of where we’re at, that is not going to help us meet our goals. And I don’t think, frankly, I don’t think our fans are that focused on it. we have to compete with teams in the American League East and talking about what we have to put towards it is not going to get that job done.”