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Answering some questions on Dan Duquette and the Toronto Blue Jays

Answering some questions on Dan Duquette and the Toronto Blue Jays
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has been linked to the Toronto Blue Jays president and chief executive officer position for more than a month. (Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press)

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette still is not commenting about the possibility that he could leave the organization to become the president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Duquette said Monday afternoon that, "at this point there really is nothing to say on the issue," and "I will talk about it when the time is appropriate."

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The problem is everyone else is talking about it. What's going to happen? When's it going to happen? What happens when it does happen? You get the point.

Answers are at a premium. But in talking to myriad people in and out of the organization in the past week, this is our best shot at answering the questions swirling around Duquette.

Does Duquette want the Blue Jays job?

Although he isn't saying it publicly, those who know him say yes, Duquette very much wants the position. For many baseball executives, being president/CEO is a dream job. It's more money, more prestige and a chance to shape all aspects of an organization. That position does not exist in Baltimore. In essence, that post is held by the Angelos family.

Do the Blue Jays want Duquette?

The sense is that he is their top candidate. It's a bit of a strange fit since the CEO position is more business than baseball and Duquette is considered more of a baseball man than a slick business executive. But he does have experience and success in Canada; he spent six seasons with the Montreal Expos.

Can Duquette want the Blue Jays job and still be focused on the Orioles?

Theoretically, yes. Just because another opportunity intrigues him doesn't mean he'll give up on the Orioles if he's not allowed to go to Toronto. There are only 30 general manager-type jobs in baseball, and though there may be some initial bitterness if he's not allowed to interview or take the post, Duquette understands that. He spent almost a decade on the outside looking in after being ousted by a new regime in Boston. Yet perception and reality aren't always the same. There's a growing perception that Duquette has his foot out the door — something perpetuated by his silence on the matter. And an already dormant offseason now raises suspicions that he's not 100 percent focused on his job at hand. True or not, that perception can be damaging.

Is Duquette's lack of big moves this offseason tied to the Blue Jays job?

No, it's tied to Duquette's modus operandi with the Orioles. Remember, at this time last year, the club's biggest acquisition was reliever Ryan Webb. This year it is the re-signing of Delmon Young. He bides his time and the sense, after talking to some in the industry, is that he is still in contact with agents and other teams about potential additions.

Does everyone buy that?

Certainly not. There's growing sentiment within the organization that Duquette needs to speak out on this issue or annoyance with his situation will become flat-out resentment. Some believe it has already reached that level. The point is — especially this late in the offseason — the organization needs to be completely on the same page. And, obviously, a big part of that is the commitment of the top front-office executive.

Why doesn't managing partner Peter G. Angelos just let Duquette go and get it over with?

This is twofold. First, Duquette signed a contract with the Orioles in 2011 and then an extension in 2012 that runs through the 2018 season. He is under contract. He is being paid well. And he has done a good job, with three consecutive winning seasons. Angelos is under no obligation to rip up that contract, especially for a division rival. Secondly, Angelos seemingly trusts Duquette's professionalism, and that Duquette would not jeopardize his reputation to get out of the contract. Still, Duquette hasn't handled this situation well. If he had gone directly to Angelos at the first sniff of this — or if Duquette immediately made a statement in December that he had some interest but could not go forward without Angelos' approval and then tried to settle it privately — maybe things would have gone differently. Instead, this issue has festered and become quite a public distraction.

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Is it possible that Angelos' recent comments to The Baltimore Sun were posturing for a better dealfrom Toronto?

Possible? Yes. Likely? No. Certainly Angelos is an accomplished attorney and is well versed in negotiations and leverage. But he also has avoided the media spotlight for years. So for Angelos to come out publicly twice in six weeks and vehemently declare that Duquette will remain with the Orioles speaks volumes. It would be surprising if Angelos backpedaled from those statements just to get a better prospect from Toronto. He has built a reputation for standing by his words and beliefs — even if they are unpopular.

What if the Orioles were offered a tremendous return for Duquette?

It's all about the definition of "tremendous" and that doesn't seem likely. The precedent for the trade of an executive has been a lower-tier player or cash or both. That's not going to get it done this time. For Angelos to relent on his public statements and let Duquette out of his contract, it would take a landmark return. Think an established major leaguer or two or some other mind-blowing package. And it's exceptionally unlikely the Blue Jays would acquiesce.

Have specific players been discussed between the two teams?

Angelos said last week that he didn't believe so, and that jibes with what other sources have said: The Orioles have internally discussed what it would take and initially talked about a framework with Toronto, but not specific names.

Who would orchestrate such a deal?

Angelos was contacted by Edward S. Rodgers III, deputy chairman of Rogers Communications. Those two would be the primary negotiators, though obviously their baseball staffs would get involved if discussions heated up.

Is Major League Baseball pushing for Duquette to get the job and, if so, why?

There have been reports that MLB has gotten involved and certainly the commissioner's office would have interest in who becomes the CEO of the Blue Jays, the league's only international team in an ever-growing international game. Plus, MLB would like to continue its protocol that teams allow its employees to seek promotions from other clubs. Then there are the obvious political undertones. Current Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston publicly opposed Rob Manfred as the sport's new commissioner. So the Blue Jays would want someone in place who has a solid relationship with Manfred and the commissioner's office — and not someone with deep ties to Beeston.

Does MLB have any influence on the decision?

Well, Angelos is currently in an ugly legal battle with the Washington Nationals and MLB over the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network television rights fees. And MLB just awarded its 2016 All-Star Game to a National League club (San Diego) despite Baltimore having interest in hosting the event. It's fair to say Manfred and his office doesn't currently have Angelos' ear.

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What would the Orioles do if Duquette were to leave?

Duquette works closely now with Brady Anderson, vice president for baseball operations, and manager Buck Showalter in making personnel decisions. The best guess is that those two would pick up extra duties and someone would be hired to assist Anderson and Showalter with other GM-type duties.

Who would be in line for that job?

The sense is that it could be best filled with someone who has past GM experience. A preliminary list included four former GMs: Ned Colletti, Kevin Towers, Kevin Malone and Omar Minaya. Frankly, they fit the initial profile and, theoretically, could be hired quickly. Towers and Malone are out of baseball for now, and Colletti and Minaya aren't decision-makers anymore. But there's no guarantee any of those four would get an interview. If the position opens, a full search likely would occur.

Would there be any internal candidates?

It depends what the Orioles were looking for. Ned Rice, who is the club's director of major league administration, has worked closely with Showalter and Duquette in the past few years. Tripp Norton, the Orioles' director of baseball operations, has been with the organization for 17 seasons in a variety of roles, including contract negotiations and arbitration. Director of player development Brian Graham has been an interim GM in Pittsburgh and held just about every baseball job possible. John Stockstill, director of player personnel, is entering his 10th year with the club in various director roles and interviewed for the executive vice president job in 2011.

Are there other candidates outside the organization?

Surely there would be, but it gets tricky because Opening Day is seemingly around the corner. Teams would have to be convinced it is truly a promotion to grant permission this late. Two names to keep in mind, depending on the position, are Scott Proefrock, assistant general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Matt Klentak, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Angels. Both have been respected members of the Orioles' front office in the past and still have ties to the organization.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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