BALTIMORE — Addressing a flurry of trade rumors centering around the Orioles targeting Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester on Wednesday afternoon, Dan Duquette did his best to throw a blanket on the fire.
The executive vice president of baseball operations reiterated his long-held position of not wanting to deal the organization’s top pitching prospects and dismissed reports that the Orioles were closing in on a deal for the three-time All-Star hurler.
“Well, that would be news to me,” said Duquette, who acknowledged an obvious interest in adding a top-of-the-rotation pitcher if possible. “Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching are very valuable to the long-term sustainability of the organization, and I think that’s a real important component to have a good team year in and year out. I think if we were to err with our young pitchers, we would be conservative and we’d try to give them a long trial in the big leagues before trading them.”
Duquette said Tuesday he was focused on adding depth to the rotation rather than making a blockbuster move, making it unlikely the Orioles would pull the trigger on a deal for Lester that would involve Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, or Hunter Harvey. Of course, Wednesday’s news of Harvey being shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation and a flexor mass strain further diminished the likelihood of the Orioles moving a top prospect.
Lester was scratched for his scheduled start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday as several teams remain interested in his services. A free agent at the end of the season, the lefty is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts spanning 143 innings this year.
Multiple reports have stated the Orioles are interested in Chicago Cubs utility player Emilio Bonifacio, who has played center field as well as three infield spots this season. The switch-hitting 29-year-old is hitting .279 with two home runs, 18 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases and has posted a 1.024 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handed pitching this season.
Baltimore also remains interested in adding another late-inning reliever to its bullpen for the stretch run.
“We’re still talking to a number of teams,” Duquette said. “We have not consummated a deal yet, but we’re talking to a couple of teams. We hope we’ll be able to add some people to our organization.”