Is the Dan Duquette situation leaving the Orioles’ roster in limbo?


Photo: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The offseason has hardly gone as planned for Orioles fans. First, the Orioles watched as several key members of last season’s division-winning squad leave to other teams for more money and longer contracts. Now, it looks as if the architect of the last three winning seasons’ rosters may be the next out the door.

For the last few weeks, the buzz around the Orioles has been mainly about the mutual interest between them and outfielder Colby Rasmus. Performance never seemed a question with Rasmus after coming off a season where he slugged 18 homers in only 346 Abs, but after losing playing time late last season with the Blue Jays, some seemed leery the young outfielder may come with some off the field issues. However, after a face-to-face meeting with Buck Showalter, those fears seemed to be put to rest and a contract seemed almost inevitable.

Now, the story has taken a backseat to the much larger story of whether the Orioles may lose G.M. Dan Duquette to the Toronto Blue Jays. It has been a while since the story first broke that the Blue Jays are interested in Dan Duquette for a similar position within their organization. The story seemed modest enough at first. Obviously, any team would be interested in Duquette, who has done a tremendous job with the Orioles since coming on in 2011. However, after a period where the story seemed to cool, reports this week indicate the Orioles are now discussing sending Duquette to Toronto.

It’s a complicated situation, and one that seems difficult to find similar past situations to compare. It’s against league regulations for any team to have discussions with any executive who’s under contract with another team. However, it’s regarded as an industry courtesy to allow talks between teams and executives if the position available is considered a promotion. Yet, how much the job is a promotion seems murky at best.

Dan Duquette is currently the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, which is an elegant title for General Manager. The position the Blue Jays are currently looking to fill is CEO and President. However, apart from the name plate on his desk, and possibly some financial compensation, it’s difficult to truly understand how exactly this qualifies as a promotion.

The position of President currently doesn’t exist within the Orioles organization, which begs the question of whether the Orioles could just stick a piece of duct tape over the word Vice on Duquette’s desk nameplate, tell him he’s been promoted, and tell the Blue Jays to stop bothering them. However, at this point, what future would that bring between Duquette and the Orioles organization? In reality, how great of a relationship could the Orioles have with Duquette, knowing his heart was set on going to represent a divisional rival?

It’s a strange situation for the Orioles organization, who are currently looking to improve a roster that should be favored in the same division as the team currently seeking to acquire their G.M. Although Duquette seems to be a constant professional, if the reports are true and the Orioles are currently in talks with the Blue Jays regarding compensation for Duquette, it may be time for another member of the organization to take over personnel decisions.

That isn’t to say Duquette would intentionally sabotage the Orioles in any way. However, if the Orioles are aware that he could be the G.M. of a divisional rival within the near future, it would seemingly be a conflict of interest to allow him to continue making personnel decisions. For a team whose 2015 expectations are high, and with the offseason quickly coming to an end, a decision on Duquette needs to be made much sooner than later. If the Orioles organization continues within this executive limbo, they could miss out on the opportunity to acquire further talent like Colby Rasmus.