Some significant news has already come out of the Orioles’ annual FanFest event, and here are some more items from some reporters on hand (including Eduardo A. Encina and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun, PressBoxOnline.com’s Rich Dubroff, and MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko)…
- The Orioles expect Manny Machado to be on the roster on Opening Day and, while they didn’t entirely close the door on trading him, executive VP Dan Duquette said that teams weren’t willing to meet Baltimore’s high demands. Interestingly, Duquette mentioned that the O’s might have swung a deal if they had received an offer similar to the one that allowed the Cardinals to land Jason Heyward from the Braves in the 2014-15 offseason. That trade saw Heyward (who was, like Machado, a year away from free agency) and young reliever Jordan Walden moved for an MLB-experienced, controllable arm in Shelby Miller and a top-100 prospect in righty Tyrell Jenkins.
- Duquette identified the rotation as the biggest need still facing the club. “The key will be addressing the starting pitching. If we can do that, and I’m confident that we can — don’t ask me how exactly. But if we can do that, I think we can have another good season,” Duquette said. Though Spring Training is approaching, Duquette felt that a pitcher could be signed as late as around March 1 without it impacting their preparations for the start of the season. Aside from pitching, Duquette also mentioned that the O’s are still looking to add a left-handed hitting outfielder and a veteran catcher.
- Duquette’s contract is up after the 2018 season, and the executive said he would “like to continue” with the club beyond the end of his current contract. “The Orioles gave me an opportunity to re-establish myself in Major League Baseball, which I really appreciated….I enjoy the fans in Baltimore, I enjoy working in the organization and I appreciate the opportunity Mr. (Peter) Angelos gave me,” Duquette said.
- There haven’t been any extension talks between Adam Jones and the team, the outfielder said (Twitter links from Meoli and Dubroff). Jones declined to answer what he considered to be hypothetical questions about his future with the team, other than to say that he was prioritizing winning over money in his next contract. The lack of negotiations aren’t necessarily a surprise; reports back in November stated that the O’s would wait until later in the offseason to discuss extensions with Jones and Machado. Jones is entering the last season of a six-year, $85.5MM deal, and it remains to be seen if the Orioles will keep the longtime star into his age-33 season and beyond. Jones has posted above-average hitting numbers over the last two years but his overall value has diminished thanks to a big dropoff in his fielding metrics. He did express a willingness to consider moving out of center field, though not for “a couple of years.”
- Kevin Gausman’s arbitration hearing with the Orioles has been scheduled for February 14, though the righty is hopeful a deal can be reached beforehand. Gausman is seeking a $6.225MM salary for 2018, while the Orioles countered with a $5.3MM offer.