The likelihood of executive vice president Dan Duquette leaving the Orioles to become president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays seems greater now than it has at any point since the issue surfaced in December.
According to multiple sources, the Orioles are listening to potential compensation packages that would allow Duquette to leave for Toronto and get out of his current contract, which runs through 2018.
One source cautions that a deal is not done and compensation has not been agreed to, but the fact that the Orioles are considering specific offers is a step toward that potential resolution.
Duquette, who on Thursday received an Executive of the Year Award from the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America at a dinner in Boston, has continued to decline comment on the situation.
When asked for comment about the situation after Thursday's banquet, Duquette said: "Not today. It's not something I can talk about."
Orioles managing partner Peter G. Angelos reiterated last week that Duquette has a contract and he is expected to honor it and remain the club's top executive, a position Duquette has held since November 2011.
But as the issue has lingered, the club's stance appears to have softened somewhat. One source said that Duquette, on multiple occasions, has urged Orioles ownership to allow him to seek Toronto's all-encompassing CEO position, which, in essence, is held by the Angelos family in Baltimore.
Because of those discussions, Angelos might be more willing to acquiesce if appropriate compensation can be worked out, a source said.
Proper compensation is seemingly the primary hurdle between the rival American League East clubs — and it's not an insignificant one. In the past, teams acquiring executives from other clubs have given up very little in compensation — usually just a fringe player and/or some cash.
One high profile example occurred in 2012, when general manager Theo Epstein left the Boston Red Sox to become president of the Chicago Cubs. In return, the Red Sox received reliever Chris Carpenter, who made just eight appearances for the Red Sox in 2012 and hasn't pitched in the majors since.
The Orioles would be seeking much more in exchange for Duquette. According to a source, among the players who have been discussed as compensation include 22-year-old right-hander Jeff Hoffman, whom Toronto gave a $3.1 million signing bonus as the ninth overall pick in last year's amateur draft.
Hoffman, whose draft stock dropped slightly last year due to Tommy John elbow surgery in May, would have to be a player to be named later in any deal because no one can be traded within the first calendar year of being drafted.
Regardless, the Orioles would likely want more than just Hoffman, and that price tag might be more exorbitant than what the Blue Jays are willing to pay.
It's also possible the Orioles could file tampering charges against the Blue Jays concerning their dealings with Duquette if a compensation package isn't agreed upon. If Duquette were dealt to Toronto, however, the Orioles' tampering argument would become moot.