Experienced Dan Duquette watchers know he doesn’t like to make outlandish predictions. He doesn’t like to tease writers.
On Thursday night, Duquette appeared on 105.7 The Fan and expounded on free agent pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Normally when Duquette is asked about specific free agents, he deflects the question or says he’s not allowed to discuss that.
“"I can tell you that we're trying to upgrade our pitching staff. A 13-game winner would do that, right?" Duquette said.
"Gallardo's been a good pitcher over his career. He did well in the National League with Milwaukee and he also pitched good (last) year with Texas, and he pitched well in the playoffs. That's why teams would have interest in him. And he's been very dependable. Thirty starts seven years in a row. There's very few players that have done that. That's something that we've been trying to add to our pitching staff all winter and we're still working on it."
Everyone knows the Orioles would like to have Gallardo, who is reportedly looking for a three-year contract in the $40-45 million range with an opt-out clause.
The Orioles have been firmly against those clauses though other pitchers in Gallardo’s class, Wei-Yin Chen and Scott Kazmir, obtained them in their new contracts this winter.
Duquette will hold out because it’s obvious Gallardo, for the moment, doesn’t have any other real options.
Gallardo could sign with the Orioles—or wait until spring training begins and see if a starting pitcher gets hurt—and hope that his market gets bigger. He’s waited all offseason for suitors to make authentic offers, and his market is currently the Orioles.
He’ll likely sign with the Orioles and solidify the pitching staff.
If Gallardo signs and Dylan Bundy is healthy, 11 of the 12 spots on the staff would be accounted for.
Gallardo would join Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation—right-handers all.
In the bullpen, a healthy Bundy, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day would leave room for just one more pitcher.
T.J. McFarland, Chaz Roe and Vance Worley would seem to be the top contenders to fill the other role.
Both Roe and Worley are out of options. Only Givens and McFarland have options left.
If Gallardo signs and Worley pitches acceptably in spring training, the veteran could be used in a trade to help restock the farm system.
Duquette indicated that he’d be open to adding another outfielder. For many months, the Orioles have had interest in trading for Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce, but the Reds’ asking price has always included the untouchable Gausman.
Besides Bruce, there’s Dexter Fowler, but like Gallardo, he’d cost a draft pick.
If the Orioles signed both Gallardo and Fowler or another free agent outfielder, barring injuries 22 of the 25 spots on the club would be accounted for.
Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Hyun-soo Kim, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters are set to start.
Ryan Flaherty and Caleb Joseph are reserves, and if Fowler is added, that leaves just two openings.
Newly acquired Efren Navarro, who’s a left-handed hitter, Nolan Reimold, Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard and Henry Urrutia would be the top contenders for the other two spots.
Including Fowler, just four of the 11: Davis, Flaherty, Kim and Wieters bat left-handed. (Wieters is a switch-hitter). Another left-handed hitter is needed, and if another left-handed outfielder isn’t picked up, Navarro and Urrutia would seem to have a shot.
Six days from now, pitchers and catchers will report. Some players have already begun to work out, and manager Buck Showalter is set to arrive in Sarasota on Sunday.
NOTE: Orioles early workouts on the back fields of the Ed Smith Stadium complex will be open to fans. Workouts are scheduled to be open between Feb.19-29 and will run from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
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