MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite a stretch in which the team has lost 17 of its last 24 games, including six of seven, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday that the Orioles are still buyers on the trade market.
"We really need to stabilize our pitching, which is what we are looking for," Duquette said in a phone interview with MLB.com. "We still want to have another pitcher."
Duquette said he doesn't think "it's feasible" for the club to add more than one starter, given that there are too many other teams looking for pitching. The Orioles, who will not part with top prospects Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy, probably don't have enough in their system to acquire more than one effective rotation guy.
The Orioles hope that their young starters, who have all struggled mightily this season, can improve enough to help get the team back on the right track. Despite rumors to the contrary, the Orioles are not trying to trade any of those pitchers.
Brian Matusz and Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta are currently in Triple-A, while Zach Britton struggled in his season debut and Chris Tillman was unable to get out of the first inning in his second start this year.
"My hope is that they establish themselves with the Orioles," Duquette said. "That's what they are trying to accomplish.
"I think they should be competitive. They all have the skills, they have all the equipment to be Major League pitchers. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be. We've got a lot of baseball left to go, but ... I don't see anything holding them back from being competitive Major Leaguers."
Duquette said middle infield depth also remains a focus, but the Orioles are optimistic Robert Andino (left shoulder strain) will return in a few weeks, and the O's going with a platoon of Ryan Flaherty and Steve Tolleson until then. While adding a bat atop the order is on the wish list, nothing takes priority over finding another starting pitcher.
"If we got one starter and got a little bit better performance from who we have, we'd be OK," Duquette said. "We need to be in contention, or we need to have the idea that what we are going to do will improve the team enough to make the playoffs.
"And you never know that for sure, but I think it's important for us to have a good year. It's important for us to finish strong and win more games than we lose, and try to go for the pennant."
Duquette has previously said that he has the ownership's backing to improve at the deadline and add pieces as he sees fit, and he didn't back off that stance on Wednesday.
"Anything that we do, we would do with the idea to strengthen the team for this year," he said.
Even if the current club continues to falter?
"I hope we are in contention until the end of the month, so we are adding," Duquette said. "That's the direction we are working on, and working toward."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.