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Os, Red Sox Lester talks fizzle

BALTIMORE — Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had a decidedly different stance in trade discussions when speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

While rumors swirled about the club’s heavy involvement in trying to acquire Red Sox ace Jon Lester, Duquette, who said on Tuesday that he was focused on pitching depth, didn’t disagree that it was on his radar.

“We’d be interested in adding pitchers that could help us at the top of our rotation,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be?”

However, as of Wednesday evening, talks on that front seemed a long ways off with the New York Daily news reporting talks between the two sides had tailed off and become much more of a long shot.

Duquette, who maintained that he wants to hang on to his top pitching prospects, also confirmed that Hunter Harvey has a right flexor mass injury — as first reported by MLB.com — and will miss the rest of the season. Asked how much the news changed trade talks, Duquette wouldn’t elaborate nor would he comment on any specific negotiations.

Still, losing Harvey for the remainder of the season certainly weakens the Orioles’ farm system, particularly for a big deal, considerably. Even if the team had taken Harvey off the table in trade talks, it’s still a stark reminder of how thin the Orioles Minor League system can get.

“We have a couple of active discussions,” he said. “We have some discussions that are no longer active from yesterday, so we’ve been able to see where we can make a trade and help our ballclub. Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching, we think are very valuable for the long-term sustainability of the organization and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year-in and year-out. I think with our young pitchers, we would be conservative and we would try and give them a prolonged trial in the big leagues before we would trade them.”

Hunter joins Dylan Bundy, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, leaving 23-year-old Kevin Gausman as the only healthy member of the club’s top three pitching prospects. Gausman is currently part of the Orioles’ rotation and it’s highly unlikely he would be dealt.

Os interested in Cotts

The Rangers are open to dealing left-handed reliever Neal Cotts and Baltimore is one of the teams interested. The Orioles are trying to add a reliever, preferably one who can get both lefties and righties out to upgrade their team in advance of Thursday’s Trade Deadline. Cotts has gone 2-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 50 games, pitching in 46 innings and allowing 18 earned runs on 46 hits and 18 walks, with 50 strikeouts.

Cotts, 34, has pretty even splits and has held right-handed hitters to a .252/.325/.342 line with lefties hitting .277/.347/.431. The Orioles would prefer to add a reliever who is versatile enough so that they don’t have to play match ups and they are trying to upgrade their sixth and seventh-inning spots to help bridge to Darren O’Day and closer Zach Britton.

Right now, the Rangers –who are just trying to stockpile talent– feel as if they are being lowballed so there’s nothing imminent there. Stay tuned.

Duquette on trade rumors, Lester and Harvey

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had a decidedly different stance in trade discussions when speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

While rumors swirled about the O’s heavy involvement in trying to acquire Red Sox ace Jon Lester, Duquette –who said Tuesday he was focused on pitching depth– didn’t shoot down the possibility.

“We’d be interested in adding pitchers that could help us at the top of our rotation,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be?”

Still, as of early Wednesday evening nothing appeared to be moving quickly on the Lester front. While most indications are Boston wants to deal Lester immediately, there are multiple suitors for him and the serious talks that happened between the Orioles and Red Sox earlier in the day hadn’t picked up much steam by Wednesday night. Duquette, who maintained that he wants to hang on to his top pitching prospects, also confirmed that Hunter Harvey has a right flexor mass injury -as first reported by MLB.com– and will miss the rest of the season. Asked how much the news changed trade talks, Duquette wouldn’t elaborate nor would he comment on any specific negotiations.

“We have a couple of active discussions,” he said. “We have some discussions that are no longer active from yesterday, so we’ve been able to see where we can make a trade and help our ballclub. Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching we think are very valuable for the long-term sustainability of the organization and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year-in and year-out. I think with our young pitchers we would be conservative and we would try and give them a prolonged trial in the big leagues before we would trade them.”

Hunter joins Dylan Bundy, who is rehabbing back from Tommy John surgery, leaving 23-year-old Kevin Gausman as the only healthy member of the O’s top three pitching prospects. Gausman is currently part of the O’s rotation and it’s highly unlikely he would be dealt.

While Boston and Baltimore continue to engage in talks –the Red Sox recently scouted the O’s affiliate Delmarva– the Orioles also remain interested in acquiring the Cubs’ Emilio Bonafacio, who would help them fill their void for a left-handed hitting bat. A switch-hitter Bonafacio hits lefties extremely well.

Harvey has strained right flexor mass (done for season)

Hunter Harvey, one of the Orioles top pitching prospects, has been experiencing right elbow discomfort and an MRI done Tuesday revealed that he has a strained flexor mass and will be shut down for the season.

The 19-year-old Harvey was examined by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs and the news is considered good since there was no ligament damage revealed in Tuesday’s tests. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said there is some inflammation in the elbow area and wouldn’t comment on how much the injury to Harvey changes potential Orioles trades.

Harvey, ranked as the Orioles’ second-best pitching prospect in the latest MLB.com rankings, last pitched on Friday and went five innings for Class-A Delmarva. The South Atlantic League All-Star, who was the O’s first round-pick in last year’s draft, has gone 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts for Delmarva

Harvey was named as one of Baseball America’s Top 50 Midseason prospects and is the son of former big leaguer Bryan Harvey, who pitched for the Angels and Marlins and was a two-time American League All-Star.

Os in serious talks for Boston’s Lester

The Orioles have stepped up in the Jon Lester sweepstakes, with the two teams in serious talks involving Boston’s starting pitcher as of Wednesday afternoon.

There is no deal done, nor is there a preliminary one in place, but multiple sources told MLB.com on Wednesday that the talks between the O’s and Boston have stepped up considerably in the past 24 hours. The news comes as a shock given that executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Tuesday that he was concentrated on adding pitching depth and Lester –a frontline arm– certainly wouldn’t be that.

The Red Sox, like most clubs, covet the Orioles top young pitchers including Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Hunter Harvey and are rumored to also favor outfield help. Gausman is currently part of the team’s rotation and the Orioles are highly unlikely to deal the 23-year-old for a two-month rental in Lester. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who the Orioles have dangled as trade bait to several National League clubs already this season, could potentially be involved with the Red Sox potentially getting a pitcher in part of a return for Lester. Obviously, it would take more than just that to get Lester –the Red Sox ace scratched from his Wednesday start– to Baltimore.

It’s important to note, the O’s aren’t the only team in on Lester with about a half-dozen rumors teams of interest. But they are certainly making a considerate run at the lefty, who is one of three aces considered “available” at this year’s Trade Deadline.

Orioles sign Dominican OFer Santa

The Orioles have signed 20-year-old third baseman Gionel Santa out of the Dominican Republic. The right-handed hitter is listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds and is considered a power hitter.

Santa signed with Toronto last year, but he ended up getting suspended due to some kind of issue with his birth certificate and became re-eligible this year. Santa is one of several players Duquette saw on his trip to the Dominican Republic last week, with the O’s passing on several others that they were considering last week. The Blue Jays offered Santa $485, 000 last year and –while I don’t have an exact figure– the O’s got him for a little less.

Baltimore was among those with representatives on hand for Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, but aren’t expected to get into the bidding war he figures to command. Castillo will have a host of private workouts, including one with the Orioles, but I’m told it’s unlikely they land the flashy outfielder.

Duquette still focused on pitching depth.

BALTIMORE—The Orioles are in the market for pitching depth, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette reiterated prior to Tuesday’s game.

Duqette, who told MLB.com that was the priority over the weekend, said nothing is imminent although the organization continues to have “meaningful discussions” and is equipped to make a move in advance of Thursday’s deadline.

“We have pretty good depth to our farm system,” Duquette said. “So I think we have the wherewithal to make a deal.”

There are several Minor League names that don’t figure into discussions as Duquette seems to be standing by his belief of building from within. The O’s are not making pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey viable in trade talks and they also are not parting with young righty Kevin Gausman, who is currently part of the team’s rotation.

“We’d like the star players to come up and make an impact on the team,” Duquette said. “In 2012, we brought up Manny [Machado] and he made a difference in the pennant race. In 2014, we’ve got Kevin Gausman on our team, and we hope he will impact the race, so that’s really the first choice, to have those really talented players play for us and prove themselves in the big leagues.” 

If the O’s do add pitching depth, it figures to be bullpen help or a starter they can have ready in the Minor Leagues. With Ubaldo Jimenez slated to make his first rehab start Tuesday night, the O’s could have a roster crunch in the rotation soon and adding a frontline starter —especially given the haul it would require to give up— isn’t very likely.

And while the club is looking around at some upgrades postionally, Duquette reminded reporters on Tuesday that the Orioles will continue to operate on a defense-first basis in any potential moves.

“If you look at it, those are a couple areas where we could improve,” he said. 
I got to say, there’s tradeoffs in everything. Our guys have done a nice job defensively at second, have done a nice job defensively catching. They’ve contributed offensively, although it hasn’t been consistent. Ideally, we’d like to have a more consistent contribution from those positions, but given the choice we’d much rather have the defense first.”

“I think we have the defense. If we could add to our offensive team, that would probably be something we could take a look at.”

Orioles vs. Angels lineups and pregame notes

Greetings from Camden Yards, where it feels like the Orioles haven’t been home in forever. (I feel like that as well.)

*In case you missed it yesterday, I wrote about the Orioles stance on making midseason trades, with the emphasis for executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on adding pitching depth. You can read more on that here.

*The Orioles have signed 20-year-old third baseman Gionel Santa out of the Dominican Republic. The right-handed hitter is listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds. He signed with Toronto last year, but he ended up getting suspended due to some kind of issue with his birth certificate and became re-eligible this year. Santa is one of several players Duquette saw on his trip to the Dominican Republic last week, with the O’s passing on several others that they were considering last week.

Baltimore was among those with representatives on hand for Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, but aren’t expected to get into the bidding war he figures to command.

*With T.J. McFarland on the bereavement list for his grandmother’s funeral, which is a minimum three-day stay, the Orioles have recalled Preston Guilmet and added him to the bullpen.

Chris Davis is not in tonight’s starting lineup, with Steve Pearce getting the nod instead at first base….

ANGELS LINEUP
Kole Calhoun RF
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols 1B
Josh Hamilton DH
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Efren Navarro LF
David Freese 3B
Hank Conger C

Jered Weaver RHP

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz LF
Delmon Young DH
J.J. Hardy SS
Steve Pearce 1B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Nick Hundley C

Chris Tillman RHP

Orioles @ Mariners lineups and pregame notes

The O’s are shuffling their rotation next week, pushing Wei-Yin Chen back a day to Friday and having Bud Norris pitch Thursday against the Angels. Monday’s off day allows them to do that and Chen –who will face Seattle again– is coming off of one of his best outings of the year. Also, Norris has really good career numbers against the Angels.

One of the team’s relievers will leave on Monday morning to go see an ill family member and manager Buck Showalter –who didn’t want to specify who it was– wasn’t sure if the team would use the bereavement list or not. If they do, he’d have to stay on it for a minimum of three days.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Steve Pearce LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Jonathan Schoop 2B

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

MARINERS LINEUP
James Jones CF
Dustin Ackley LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Corey Hart RF
Logan Morrison 1B
Mike Zunino C
Chris Taylor SS

Roenis Elias LHP

Orioles @ Mariners lineups and pregame notes

Manny Machado has returned to the Orioles lineup after missing four games with low back spasms. Manager Buck Showalter said he almost used him last night.

Showalter was pretty cryptic regarding the team’s upcoming pitching rotation, saying that the Orioles could do a few “interesting” things depending on what happens in today’s game. I don’t think he’s talking about a trade in the works, but rather some roster manipulation.

Miguel Gonzalez is slated to start, but the O’s could use Monday’s off day to their advantage by lining up certain guys next week when they host the Angels and Mariners. They could also use lefty T.J. McFarland on Sunday if need be. That would depend on if he’s used today and if lefty Brian Matusz is available. Stay tuned.

ORIOLES LINEUP
Nick Markakis RF
Delmon Young DH
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz LF
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Manny Machado 3B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Nick Hundley C

Bud Norris RHP

MARINERS LINEUP

James Jones CF
Dustin Ackley LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Corey Hart RF
Logan Morrison 1B
Brad Miller SS
Jesus Sucre C

Chris Young RHP

Endy Chavez RF
James Jones CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kendrys Morales DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Dustin Ackley LF
Logan Morrison 1B
Brad Miller SS
Jesus Sucre C

Chris Young RHP

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