Shake your head, but recognize the reality: Duquette's daily sifting uncovers bargains -

Dan Connolly

Shake your head, but recognize the reality: Duquette’s daily sifting uncovers bargains

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

So, the Orioles added another pitcher from another organization Friday in exchange for cash (or a player to be named later).

I know, you’re shocked and thrilled.

This time, it was 22-year-old right-hander Miguel Castro from the Colorado Rockies. In turn, the Orioles designated right-hander Joe Gunkel for assignment.

Castro has a big arm – in 2015 he skipped several minor league rungs to be the Toronto Blue Jays closer, but that didn’t work out. He ultimately was shipped to Colorado as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal.

Castro is young, cheap, talented and has minor-league options remaining.

That checks every box for Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president who is the undisputed master of these moves.

Castro, who hasn’t pitched in more than a week, will head to Florida to work on some things, get the rust off and then will begin his career in the organization at Double-A Bowie.

Don’t be surprised if you see Castro at some point in Baltimore. That’s the way it works around here.

Snicker all you want about Dumpster diving, but if Castro helps win one game in 2017, buying him from Colorado is worth it.


And if he doesn’t contribute for the Orioles this year, well, maybe 33-year-old veteran Edwin Jackson, whose minor league deal with the Orioles was announced Friday, will. Or maybe 24-year-old Andrew Faulkner, whom the Orioles acquired from the Texas Rangers for cash (or a player to be named) on Thursday, will help in the big leagues.

I could go on and on writing about guys you haven’t heard of but might. It’s not the most orthodox way to build the back end of a roster, but, as Duquette says, “we have to be resourceful.”

Duquette is the Martha Stewart of baseball resourcefulness.

Think about this: The Orioles need a starter for April 15 and the five candidates that have been discussed previously are holdovers Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson as well as Gabriel Ynoa, Jayson Aquino and Chris Lee.

Wright and Wilson were drafted by the Orioles the year before Duquette arrived in Baltimore.

But the other three are all part of Duquette’s cheap-pitcher-with-upside collection.

He bought Ynoa from the New York Mets in February. He bought Aquino from the Cardinals last April. He sent two international bonus slots to the Houston Astros in May 2015 for Lee.

And those three should all be in the majors at some point in 2017. One potentially in a week.

Vidal Nuno is already with the big league team. Duquette traded a minor leaguer to the Los Angeles Dodgers for him in February.

Then there’s Jesus Liranzo, Richard Bleier and Logan Verrett – all members of the 40-man roster, whose acquisitions were met with a collective shrug by the fan base.

“I know when we first acquired Liranzo or Aquino or Chris (Lee), OK, minor league deal. But guess what? Here we sit. We’ll see,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s a long way from where they are now to contributing consistently, but where else are you gonna get them from? We haven’t been fortunate yet in some of the other programs that people are.”

Reading between the lines on that quote puts me on my biggest soapbox – one I’ve screamed from both before and during Duquette’s reign: The club’s woeful record in signing and developing international amateurs. Besides Jonathan Schoop, it’s pretty much non-existent. Fans often complain about the Orioles’ draft selections, but 10 members of the current 25-man roster were drafted by the club. Not all are stars, but that’s more homegrown players than a lot of teams have. Internationally? Not good. Not good at all.

So, when the Orioles aren’t buying free agents or signing their own – they have the 10th highest payroll in baseball at $164 million to start 2017 – they are supplementing in various ways.

One prominent manner is Duquette’s continual acquisition of players – mainly pitchers — that other organizations aren’t holding onto.

You can call it what you want.

The crazy thing is, he keeps making it work.



  1. pedro

    April 8, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Dan, do you think if Buck were to take over as GM in 2019, that a shift in organizational priorities toward scouting and development would occur?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 8, 2017 at 9:16 am

      When did talk of Buck taking over as GM come up? First I’ve heard of it. And why in the wide, wide world of sports, would any O’s fan or owner want to give up on Duquette??? IMO, he’s done a fantastic job!

    • Dan Connolly

      April 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Yeah. I think it is premature to give the job to Buck. But that said it would be difficult to know exactly what Buck’s philosophy would be, but you’d have to imagine development would be big since that is his background.

  2. claudecat

    April 8, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I was a little sad to read that Joe “The Gunk” Gunkel was jettisoned to make room for Castro, but if I’m honest with myself about the potential upside of both, I guess Castro’s got more. The word is that he’s “uncoachable”, but maybe the shock of being shipped to Baltimore (OK, Norfolk so far) will result in a change of attitude. Personally I don’t mind these Duquette dives deep into the unseen nooks and crannies of minor league depth charts. I trust Buck and the rest to use ’em judiciously should they make themselves major league viable.

    On a tangential note, I see that Ynoa got lit up pretty good last night for the Tides (as did Wright the previous night). Seems almost a certainty that Aquino will be the guy on the 15th, though it remains to be seen what he’ll do in his first start down there. I was hoping for Aquino anyway.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 8, 2017 at 9:18 am

      I was right with you on your feelings regarding Gunkel. I’d have rather given up on Wright or Wilson.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 8, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Gunkel isn’t as advanced as Wilson or have the stuff of Wright. They evidently believe he may make it thru waivers and be outrighted to the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. He’s 25, RH, no power stuff and ok numbers at AAA. So I wouldn’t say my goodbyes to him yet.

  3. Raveonjo

    April 8, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Two excellent articles this morning, Thanks, Dan for providing this resource.

  4. Eldersburg Enigma

    April 8, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Though the O’s system has significantly improved the past few years, all these deals point to the limited depth in the system. Guys other teams have given up on (how else can you characterize deals for cash or a PTBNL?) improve the quality of the O’s farm system, which points to a depth problem. Trading for these guys demonstrates a willingness to combat the problem and I’m happy about that.

    • Steve Cockey

      April 8, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Agreed here, Eldersburg. An organization in the O’s position should absolutely be making these kinds of moves, so I’m happy that they continue to pursue them. But, at the same time, they certainly underscore a problem. If the 40-man was filled with legit prospects, they wouldn’t have room for all these fringe guys. I certainly understand that every team has a budget and their major league payrolls have been high. But this is where the lack of international spending and selling of draft picks shows up.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 8, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Hard to argue with either of you (and I’d argue with Steve in a nanosecond if appropriate). 🙂

    • Steve Cockey

      April 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Don’t I know it 😉

  5. marcshank

    April 8, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Pardon my naivety but wouldn’t just getting Chris Sale made things a lot simpler? U know, unload a contract or two and win the Series?

  6. ubetonit

    April 9, 2017 at 4:37 am

    “…that quote puts me on my biggest soapbox – one I’ve screamed from both before and during Duquette’s reign: The club’s woeful record in signing and developing international amateurs.”

    One cannot scream&shout about that enough. Please keep it up, Dan. Everything stems from signing/drafting and developing. A pipeline also keeps one from overpaying for older players e.g. Albert Pujols.

    I am rooting for both Gabriel Ynoa & Jayson Aquino.

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