O's seek to bolster club for run at postseason

July 22nd, 2017
Zach Britton could be a trade candidate if the Orioles decide to be sellers at the Deadline. (AP)

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles certainly didn't sound like sellers Saturday afternoon. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, addressing the team's season-ticket holders in the annual "State of the Orioles" address, said he believes this year's club can still contend for a postseason spot.
"I got a lot of confidence in the guys that we have that we can put it together. This is a tough division. Day in, day out, we have to compete against the toughest teams in the league," Duquette said of an Orioles team that entered Sunday's series finale against the Astros 4 1/2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot.
"This year we haven't had the starting pitching that we need, but the other elements of our ballclub are intact. And if we can get a little bit better pitching or add to the pitching, we can make a run at this. We are about four games out of the Wild Card and that second Wild Card gives you a lot of hope until late in the season. And we are going to see what we can do this week to help our ballclub and strengthen the club so we can give you a contending team year in and year out."
Duquette's words are interesting given that multiple O's have been frequent topics surrounding the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Closer Zach Britton and reliever are thought to be enviable trade chips, with the club also reportedly OK with shopping Seth Smith, and Hyun Soo Kim over the next week-plus.
Duquette said there are two approaches to the Deadline: to improve now or improve in the future. And on Saturday, Duquette preached that Baltimore is very interested in getting better for 2017.
"Whatever we do [at the Trade Deadline], we are going to try to help the club. I still like a lot of our core players," Duquette said. "I don't believe all this stuff that says we have half the club on the market. Because we have a lot of baseball left to be played.
"We've been able to compete without the best starting pitching. ... We're going to look to see if we can acquire pitching wherever we can."
But improving is easier said than done. The O's, who have two pitchers -- and Chris Tillman -- with an ERA over 7, don't have any enticing Minor League options or they'd already be giving them a try. The club's farm system, which has improved, still isn't in an ideal situation to be dealing from. And there's the inherent risk that comes with doing nothing and missing an opportunity to improve the system and falling short of the postseason.
"You all hear so much of the rumors and so many of the things I try to not get involved with," manager Buck Showalter said. "It's hard for me to imagine those guys are home every night having to stay on top of it like y'all have to stay on top of it. I think you're always in a mode of what's best for the team and the organization in the short and long term. The best deals are the ones that are good short term and long term."
The O's, who were swept by the Cubs in their first series of the second half, swept the Rangers in a four-game set earlier this week to get back into it. But they've got an uphill battle this weekend against Houston followed by a two-city road trip. Baltimore is 17-30 away from Camden Yards this season.