DALLAS—There were no splashes by the Orioles at the winter meetings this week, no big-name signings or trades that signal to a beleaguered fan base that things are looking up after 14 years of losing.
New executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, however, believes his two, under-the-radar, no-fanfare moves — both announced on Thursday's final day of the sport's annual offseason gathering — fill necessary holes as he attempts to improve the club's depth.
"Things are coming along. We added another infielder, a left-handed hitter, a good complement to what we are doing [and] potential insurance in the event [Brian] Roberts is not healthy and ready to go," Duquette said. "And we picked up a pitcher. That's all on our shopping list, right? Those are items we were trying to address in the offseason, so we addressed a couple of those items at the winter meetings."
On Thursday morning, the Orioles sent minor league left-hander Jarret Martin and minor league outfielder Tyler Henson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 28-year-old left-hander Dana Eveland, who will be joining his seventh big league team. A few minutes earlier, the Orioles had selected 25-year-old infielder Ryan Flaherty, a former first-round sandwich pick of the Chicago Cubs', in the Rule 5 draft.
Eveland isn't the top-of-the-rotation starter coveted by Orioles fans. He is 19-24 with a 5.52 ERA in 100 games (59 starts) in parts of seven big league seasons. But last year, the lefty sinkerballer was 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts with the Dodgers and was 12-8 with a 4.38 ERA in 25 starts with Triple-A Albuquerque, which plays at one of the worst pitchers' parks in baseball.
"He won 15 games this year between Triple-A and the big leagues," Duquette said. "He'd been up in the big leagues before as a starting pitcher, and he has gotten himself on track to compete for a starting job in spring training. We like his stuff. We like his durability, and we like his experience. And we like the fact that he won 15 games and pitched over 180 innings."
The 16th-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002 has played for the Brewers, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and Dodgers.
"I think this is my seventh team in the last seven years, so I'm getting used to it," Eveland said. "Hopefully, I can make the travel stop, make somebody happy up there in Baltimore and maybe they'll keep me around for a while."
There was speculation that Eveland might be nontendered by the Dodgers, meaning he could have been a free agent by Tuesday.
"You can speculate about his contract status all you want, but we like the pitcher to add depth to our major league roster and we wanted to add him to our ballclub," Duquette said. "So we thought the acquisition price and the certainty of having him on our roster was worth the two young players we traded to the Dodgers."
Martin, 22, was taken in the 18th round of the 2009 draft out of Bakersfield Junior College. He was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA in 31 games (18 starts) at Single-A Delmarva in 2011. Henson, who will be 24 this month, was a 2006 fifth-round selection whom Baseball America listed as the Orioles' 22nd-best prospect heading into last season. He batted .247 with a .313 on-base percentage in 123 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2011.
Flaherty, 25, has played every defensive position except catcher and center field in his minor league career. A sandwich pick (No. 41 overall) in 2008 out of Vanderbilt, the left-handed hitter will have to stay in the majors all season with the Orioles or be offered back to the Cubs for half the $50,000 purchase price. He hit .280 with 19 homers combined at Double-A and Triple-A last year.
"He's got a good bat. He can play third base and second base. He's a left-handed hitter, and he has some power," Duquette said. "He was a high draft pick, which identifies his value and skills when he originally signed, and he comes from a really top-quality program. … So, we like all those things about him and we think he's got an opportunity to contribute to the major league team, either at third or to support our efforts at second. He's very similar to [Matt] Antonelli, except he's a left-handed hitter."
Like Antonelli and Duquette, Flaherty is also a New Englander. He is from Portland, Maine.
"If you're a ballplayer from Maine, that means you really want to be a ballplayer," Duquette said.
To make room for Eveland on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated reliever Willie Eyre for assignment. Eyre, 33, was 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 19 relief outings last year for the Orioles.
On Thursday, the club also finished an earlier deal that brought catcher Taylor Teagarden to the Orioles for pitcher Randy Henry and a player to be named. That player is 2008 fifth-round pick Greg Miclat, a speedy infielder who batted .280 with 50 steals for Double-A Bowie last year.
Miclat was eligible for Thursday's Rule 5 draft, which allows teams to select certain minor leaguers who have been left off other clubs' 40-man rosters, but was not selected. In fact, no Orioles minor leaguer was selected by another team in any phase. The Orioles, however, also took Andrew Loomis, a left-hander out of the Philadelphia Phillies' organization, in the Triple-A phase and third baseman Matt Sweeney out of the Tampa Bay Rays' organization in the Double-A phase.
Duquette said the team is still working on acquiring big league players, including South Korean right-hander Chong Tae-Hyon, who could be in the fold this month. Duquette also said the club laid groundwork for more trades and free-agent signings this winter.
The players the Orioles acquired this week were certainly underwhelming considering stars such as Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson chose new teams this week. But Duquette didn't seem deterred as he finished his first winter meetings in nine years.
"I think we added to our team. It's all [adding]. We're building," Duquette said. "I don't think we're giving up significant talent to add to what we're building at the major league level. And we still have some opportunities to add some players from the free-agent market."
Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.
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