Rumors swirl as Duquette says O's are Deadline buyers
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TIMORE -- With baseball's Trade Deadline a week away, the Baltimore Orioles find themselves involved in a firestorm of rumors that support executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette's statements that the organization remains in buyer mode.
But at what cost? The Orioles -- who have made it known that top prospects Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are virtually untouchable -- have also drawn significant interest in their young starters, particularly Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz. Both Arrieta and Matusz were part of the team's Opening Day rotation and have struggled this season, resulting in separate demotions to Triple-A Norfolk, but the club remains encouraged the pair of young pitchers can get on track and, according to two industry sources, is unlikely to deal either pitcher.
Duquette has made it no secret that the club would like to acquire a starting pitcher, but he told MLB.com last week that there's a lot of competition in that regard with the extra Wild Card team in each league making some teams reluctant to go into sell-mode. The team does appear satisfied with its middle infield depth -- acquiring Omar Quintanilla from the New York Mets on Friday -- particularly given that Robert Andino's injury isn't expected to sideline him more than 3-4 weeks. They would like to shore up the defense -- a facet of the team that manager Buck Showalter singled out as the most disappointing part of the first half -- and with that comes the obvious questions and availability of other players at the corner infield spots.
"I know the names that are probably floating around there like they do every year," Showalter said of the trade talk. "I'd love for somebody to keep a tally sheet what they're right about [in the media]. I keep in mind the old, throw it up against the wall, and if one sticks then 'I told you, so' [mentality].
"[The Trade Deadline excitement is] good for the fans. That's the bottom line. They like it, it keeps them engaged, and everybody plays fantasy swap. The old, 'Would you do this for him?' Well of course I would, but they won't do it."
Kevin Gregg and Mark Reynolds have been heavily speculated as potential players to trade, but neither figure commands a return that would significantly help the Orioles. Baltimore is willing to move parts of the bullpen -- the team's strength for most of the first half -- given its depth at Triple-A and, outside of Bundy and Machado, Duquette hasn't eliminated any of the organization's other prospects in the right deal. The sense remains that the Orioles will make a trade before the deadline, although it's highly unlikely it involves a marquee name.
Showalter was mum on any options and potential avenues on Tuesday and he spoke with his team after the All-Star break to prepare them for the barrage of rumors and speculation involving their future.
"That's another good thing about having a guy like [Jim] Thome and other [veteran] guys around," Showalter said. "Obviously, to get somebody, somebody leaves. Not only in your organization, but in that locker room. I think the last thing players need to hear is the manager weighing in on that. Because I've asked them to keep their focus on [playing]."