O's rumor mill starts early at Winter Meetings

O's rumor mill starts early at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO -- The Orioles' search for outfield help is set to continue when the annual Winter Meetings officially open on Monday morning.

There has already been some excitement surrounding executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who was the subject of headlines Sunday when reports surfaced that he was a candidate for the rumored vacancy of Toronto's president/CEO job.

"I'm with the Orioles. I'm here to represent the Orioles at the Meetings. Other than that, I have nothing to add," Duquette, signed through 2018, said on MLB Network Radio. "I do have a contract and I've always honored my contract."

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Duquette's top priority for Baltimore will be replacing Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, both of whom signed four-year free-agent pacts with other clubs last week.

A backup catcher is also on Duquette's wishlist, with starter Matt Wieters coming off of season-ending Tommy John surgery, as is relief help. The Orioles could be an enticing trade partner at the Meetings, with Baltimore currently having six starters for five spots. However, Duquette has been hesitant to part with pitching depth in the past and the O's haven't made any big moves at the Winter Meetings during his tenure.

In addition to Duquette being made available to the media every day, manager Buck Showalter also will hold court with reporters at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Fans are encouraged to take part in the Winter Meetings by filling the comments section at orioles.com this week with their own suggestions for getting the club back to the postseason. Should Duquette add to the outfield through trades or free agency? Will parting with a starter be a necessary move to plugging other holes? And how will the O's invest the money they saved on not retaining Cruz and Markakis?

The offseason Hot Stove is about to kick into full swing and we'll have all of the news covered with daily reports. Check for fresh content on a regular basis and take part in the comments section to have your voice heard.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.