By Jim Henneman
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After two days at the baseball winter meetings, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette is finding out what scouts have been telling the Baltimore media for the last couple of months.
"[Other teams] like our young pitching," Duquette said during a briefing here last night, wrapping up a generally uneventful day, but one that left some promise of activity to come.
Duquette had preliminary trade talks with about a half dozen teams and met with as many agents yesterday, reporting some progress but with nothing imminent on the horizon.
Apparently Duquette has not found a team that likes his young pitching as much as he does.
"They do like our young pitchers," he said, "but so do we."
Based on conversations around the lobbies, of which there are many at the host Gaylord Opryland Hotel, if the Orioles want to use young pitching as the centerpiece of a trade, it almost certainly would have to include Chris Tillman. But that is almost certainly going to stifle most conversations, because, after a couple of iffy years, Tillman's stock is now as high as it was when Baltimore obtained him from Seattle in the Adam Jones and Erik Bedard trade five years ago. Tillman was 19 then, and became the youngest player in the Eastern League when he debuted with the Bowie Baysox.
He's 24 now, and the feeling is his lightbulb may have switched on. That would make him a central figure in the Orioles' rotation next year -- barring a trade, of course.
"I like adding pitchers, not trading them," said Duquette, seemingly squashing any possibility of the Orioles' trading one of the pitchers who figures in the rotation.
Duquette reported that negotiations with free agent starter Joe Saunders were in the preliminary stages and, as with non-tendered first baseman Mark Reynolds, any resolution would take some time.
But left fielder Nate McLouth could be another story. The O's have had continuing negotiations with the outfielder, and it may ultimately come down to whether the team is willing to offer more than a one-year deal or whether McLouth is willing to settle for that length.
Either way, there's a possibility that situation will be resolved by the time Duquette gets back to Baltimore on Dec. 7. Duquette said the club would avail itself of the entire free-agent market if negotiations with McLouth stalled.
"I think that we'll leave here with a signed player," he said.
Posted Dec. 5, 2012