Both the Nationals and Orioles have rejected the idea that Washington is currently pursuing Baltimore executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette to take over as the club’s president. The clubs were responding to a report suggesting such interest from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (on Twitter). Mike Rizzo currently serves the Nationals as the general manager and president of baseball operations, though it’s possible that the organization could add a business-oriented president as well, and Duquette had reportedly been considered for such a broad role with the Blue Jays last year. It’s also worth noting that Rizzo has a two-year option that’s up for decision on June 15. This is hardly the first time there’s been intrigue surrounding Duquette, or Rizzo for that matter, though such a move would remain surprising — not least of which because the two clubs are engaged in a protracted dispute over television rights fees. It’s all hypothetical for now, anyway. “We are not in discussions with Dan Duquette, nor are we in the market for a team president,” a Nats spokesperson tells Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link). An Orioles source says that the club hasn’t received any request to contact Duquette, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com adds (Twitter links). Meanwhile, Duquette himself issued his own statement, saying: “I don’t know anything about this, nor has anyone contacted me.”
Here’s more from the game’s eastern divisions:
- Duquette told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com the backstory on the Orioles’ decision to take Joey Rickard from the Rays in this winter’s Rule 5 draft. You’ll want to read the full account at that link, but here’s a brief rundown: Baltimore’s analytics department put Rickard on the organization’s radar after his strong 2015, and the O’s got an up-front look when the 24-year-old played for Felipe Alou Jr. — the director of the team’s Dominican academy — in the Dominican Winter League. The stars aligned when Rickard was available when Baltimore’s Rule 5 slot came up, and the club’s uncertain corner outfield mix made him a good fit. Obviously, he’s rewarded the team thus far with an excellent start to the year; he’s among several players who have had outstanding debuts, as we covered in a poll earlier today.
- The Mets are set to recall righty Rafael Montero to provide some innings, as ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports (Twitter link). Once one of the team’s more promising young pitchers, the 25-year-old has struggled with shoulder issues recently and wasn’t penciled in at the major league level to start the year. He’s needed there now, though, because of Jacob deGrom’s lat issue and Steven Matz’s rough, 1 2/3-inning outing yesterday. Those two situations have led to some early questions, with an anonymous scout telling Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that Matz seemed in need of further Triple-A seasoning after his first start. Barring some undisclosed health issues or continued struggles, that seems rather premature, though it’s fair to note that Matz did scuffle a bit this spring — allowing 13 walks (though racking up 21 strikeouts) in his 23 2/3 innings in camp.
- Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna is not only continuing to show the same exciting stuff that led to his breakout last year, but is increasingly working a changeup into his arsenal, as John Lott writes for Vice Sports. He’s certainly got enough with his fastball and slider to succeed in the late innings, but adding another plausible offering — if not a swing-and-miss option in and of itself — could certainly improve his near and long-term outlook. Of course, that might also increase the organization’s interest in shifting Osuna back into a starting role down the line.