The Orioles have been connected to free-agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo for much of the winter, but general manager Dan Duquette said today in an appearance on MLB Network Radio that the team’s preference is to retain its first-round pick — the No. 14 overall selection (links to Twitter). Asked by Jim Bowden about Gallardo, specifically, Duquette replied, “The question for us is ’Are we willing to give up our first-round pick?’ and so far that answer has been no.” Speaking more generally about free agents tied to draft pick compensation, Duquette said, “I think we’re going to hang onto that pick.”
Plans can, of course, change in the event that the asking price of Gallardo comes down, but Duquette’s comments would be a blow to Gallardo’s market, as the right-hander hasn’t been connected to a large number of teams of late. The Orioles and Astros have been the two most frequently mentioned club’s in connection to Gallardo, although his representatives will reportedly meet with the Rockies soon. The Blue Jays have also at least checked in on Gallardo, although there’s no indication that their interest extends beyond due diligence at this point.
Duquette’s comments would also rule out Dexter Fowler, and while the switch-hitter hasn’t been concretely linked to Baltimore, he did appear to be a speculative fit in the outfield (as Jeff Todd and I discussed on yesterday’s MLBTR Podcast). Ian Desmond and Howie Kendrick are the other two remaining free agents that rejected qualifying offers, although neither has a clear fit on the Baltimore roster anyway, due to the presence of J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop.
Furthermore, Bowden adds (links to Twitter) that Duquette confirmed some interest in Doug Fister but said the Orioles are not in the mix for free-agent lefty Cliff Lee. “Fister is interesting, bounceback candidate,” said Duquette. “I can’t say we’ve made an offer, but we’ve been monitoring his market.” Fister is said to be eyeing a two-year deal worth a total of $22MM, but the Orioles are said to be uninterested at that price. As for Lee, he’s looking for a one-year deal this season if he pitches at all; his agent recently told MLB Network Radio that Lee would need a “perfect fit” in order to make a comeback attempt, though it’s not clear exactly what would constitute that fit.