Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette participates in the short-season Single-A Aberdeen Ironbirds' Hot Stove dinner.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has spent this offseason staying quiet about his future with the organization, even as speculation increased throughout the winter that he was linked to — and coveted — the Toronto Blue Jays' team president and CEO job.
This week, things seemed to cool down when the Blue Jays announced current president/CEO Paul Beeston would remain in that post for the 2015 season.
Duquette had remained mum on the topic since first addressing it during last month's Winter Meetings in San Diego. But before Thursday's Aberdeen IronBirds Hot Stove Dinner at Ripken Stadium, a laid-back Duquette gave his most expansive statements since reports about his possible departure surfaced.
"It's been interesting," Duquette said with a smile when asked about his offseason. "I'm not used to being a trade rumor."
Before receiving a standing ovation from the approximately 100 fans attending the event, Duquette sat on a leather couch inside a suite at Ripken Stadium and answered questions from reporters about this offseason, offering some light-hearted humor while — in his own unique way — attempting to quell fan anxiety about whether he is committed to the club's future.
"I can confirm that I've been the subject of many trade rumors," Duquette said. "I'd have to be living in a bunker to not be aware, right? You know, these things happen in baseball. This is rare, but sometimes trades are made for managers, sometimes trades are made for executives and that's the way it goes. It's a part of the business.
"If there's trade discussions that I have as an executive, I really don't talk about those publicly because you never know what's going to come to fruition and what's not," Duquette added. "But I've been focused on helping the Orioles all winter, focused on doing the job to put together a good team. So from that perspective it's, in effect, business as usual."
Duquette did not make any strong statements about his long-term future with the Orioles. He's signed through the 2018 season.
The Orioles lost three key pieces to a club that won the club's first American League East title in 17 years — outfielders Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz and left-hander reliever Andrew Miller — and have done little besides re-signing outfielder-designated hitter Delmon Young and making a trade this week for outfielder Travis Snider.
Duquette said the Orioles haven't made very many splash moves in recent offseasons, but have still had three consecutive winning seasons.
"Building a baseball team is a year-round job and we don't always do in the offseason what fans expect we're going to do," Duquette said, "but we end up having a pretty good ball club and we're going to do the same thing again this year."
Duquette reiterated that point to the crowd during a Q&A session with Duquette, Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph and new Aberdeen manager Luis Pujols. The questions were screened in advance.
"Let's see, last year we didn't really make a move until spring training, so we're ahead of schedule this year," Duquette said in response to a question posed by emcee Stan Charles, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Before the event, Duquette said he didn't believe he needed to say anything to people within the organization to reassure them of his commitment to the Orioles. Asked whether he believed he needed to send a message to fans, he said he's always been focused on his job.
"I've always done my job 24 hours a day and to the best of my ability," Duquette said. "That's a habit. We're going to have another good ballclub this year. I'm confident of that."