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Duquette: Orioles making push to contend now

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles are in it to win it this season, with Thursday's four-year, $50 million signing of Ubaldo Jimenez, forfeiting a Draft pick and part of what executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette called a "conscious choice" to put significant resources into the 2014 team.

"That's what we felt we had to do to stabilize our team and be competitive in the AL East," said Duquette, who signed two pitchers this week in Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon.

"We want to contend every year, but we made some conscious choices to put the resources into our pitching staff for this year. We like the core of our team. We like our core players. They are at the stage in their careers where they should continue to have good, solid years, and we hope we built our pitching staff properly."

Now that the Orioles have forfeited one Draft pick, would it make it any easier to give up their next pick, at 55, and add another qualified free agent? Baltimore has rumored interest in sluggers Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales.

"Every Draft pick has a specific value, and we take into consideration that specific value before we part with the Draft pick," Duquette said. "We did that in this case, and we would do that on a case-by-case basis."

Duquette wouldn't handicap the chances of the Orioles holding another news conference before they break camp, only saying that they would "continue to look at" players who might be a fit, as well the club's internal options. Baltimore is in need of a designated hitter, and it's clear there's a window of success in keeping some of their players together, with most people agreeing it will be near impossible to extend both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. The club is also looking to extend shortstop J.J. Hardy before Opening Day.

"We want to have a competitive team year in and year out. And we are going to do whatever we have to do to accomplish that," Duquette said. "As far as the core players, we've made it clear that we want to sign the core players, the good dependable players to stay with the club. With that being said, we have to stay within the resources of the team and the market."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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