Dan Duquette making moves for the future of Orioles baseball


Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the week, the Baltimore Orioles have been brought up in many off-season discussions. However, those discussions were about the players leaving the ball club rather than signing with the ball club.

First, the Orioles lost their 2014 designated hitter, Nelson Cruz when he agreed to a 4-year, $58 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. Everyone anticipated Cruz to go elsewhere next season knowing he was looking for his last big contract of his Major League career and that the Orioles were not willing to give Cruz that fourth year.

Yes– losing Cruz means losing 40 home runs and 108 RBI. However, with the return of players like Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and Chris Davis in 2015, that offensive production could be reproduced elsewhere. And since Cruz was only with the Orioles for one season, it was not hard for fans to part with No. 23.

However, yesterday’s signing of Nick Markakis to the Atlanta Braves was a shock to many Orioles fans and players alike. Once the Orioles’ 2014 season came to a close, questions arose about who would return and who would leave. Yet, Markakis returning to Baltimore was thought to be a sure thing. With him heading home to Atlanta for the next four years of his career, the Orioles lose a career .290 hitter and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner.

Along with losing Markakis, the Orioles lost the leadership that came with him. He played in Baltimore for his entire Major League career and the young players joining the ball club like Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph could look to him for guidance and advice.

Some fans could see why Dan Duquette did not sign Markakis, but others were baffled and take back by it. They started to question Duquette as the Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations and everything he was doing (or not doing) to “reload” this Baltimore team for next season.

However, this seems like déjà vu  from last winter before the 2014 season. And right when fans were ready to throw in the towel on the team, Duquette made the right moves in the nick of time and the rest, as they say, is history.

This off-season, Duquette’s motives for not signing Cruz or Markakis is all focused on the future. Cruz is 34 years old and Markakis is 31. Four year deals for either of them would mean they would be 39 and 35 in 2018.

This game is a business for both the players and the general managers. Duquette made a business move that was best for his team in looking towards the future of the ball club.

The Orioles is a very youthful ball club, with players like Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop showing promise and prospects like Christian Walker and Dariel Alvarez about to break into the League.

I believe letting Markakis go opens up the door to both Alvarez and Mike Yastrzemski for joining Baltimore sooner than expected. Also, the money saved on Cruz and Markakis can be spent signing an outfielder as well– possibly Matt Kemp or Melky Cabrera.

Although it hurts seeing a veteran in Markakis and a slugger in Cruz walk, it is what is best for the team. Orioles fans it is not time to panic, but rather a time to be excited in Birdland.