SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette talked about various subjects today, including the claim of Milwaukee Brewers 25-year-old infielder Zelous Wheeler and the designation for assignment of lefty Dana Eveland.
This is just a sense, but I think Duquette believes he can deal Eveland if the Orioles don’t think he can get through waivers. It’s hard to imagine the Orioles releasing Eveland, so he’ll end up at Norfolk if he clears – Eveland said that likely would be his inclination as well.
But, again, I think Duquette has something brewing. He mentioned he has had some “tertiary” trade talk in terms of thinning out the roster but wasn’t talking in specifics. Based on the word tertiary, I’m assuming it’s not a blockbuster in limbo.
Here are some highlights of Duquette’s interview:
Duquette on Wheeler: “He is a very good leader and he has increased his slugging percentage last year by like 60 points. And he has good command of the strike zone. His best position is third base, he is a good defender. And we were interested in him for his leadership capabilities, his on-base capabilities and his defense at third.”
Duquette said Wheeler wouldn't necessarily be Norfolk’s starting third baseman. The Tides still have Josh Bell, who is on the 40-man roster and was once considered a top prospect, though that star has faded some within the organization.
Duquette said Wheeler was signed by Joe Mason, who once worked for Duquette in Boston and signed Jonathan Papelbon: “He is a terrific scout and sees the ability in players, and a lot of times they end up getting to the big leagues, not right away, but later on.”
On designating Eveland, whom he gave up two minor leaguers to acquire in December: “He’s been designated, and we’ve got about 10 days to resolve that assignment. He is a qualified major leaguer. He just hasn’t quite found a home yet.”
More on Eveland: “I still think Eveland is a qualified major league pitcher, but we did sign two lefties after we signed him. He has been designated. Not a lot I can say about that until it gets resolved.”
On how the 25-man roster is coming along: “What are we down to 32 [in camp]? So we’ve got a couple of spots left to fill and we have some players we need to decide what their assignment will be. We are down to a couple spots.”
On making more moves for the roster: “We have a few player contracts we need to resolve in camp, and we have had some tertiary trade discussions, so we will see.”
On whether he has closed the door on some of the available big-name free agents such as Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Joel Piniero: “I don’t know. I guess they are always an option.”
On whether Tsuyoshi Wada is a starter or a reliever: “Wada has always been a starter. He didn’t get as much work so far, he probably needs to be sharper. I don’t know [if he’ll be put in the bullpen], we will see. We’ll see how that shakes out.”