This time last year, Dan Duquette arrived at the annual GM meetings just a week into his new job as Orioles executive vice president focused on getting reaccustomed to fellow front office executives.
The 2012 GM meetings open today in Indian Wells, Calif., and run through Friday. The meetings don't usually lead to much news, but for general managers, it serves as the opportunity to lay groundwork for next month's winter meetings in Nashville.
Duquette will now have a much better grip on things at the meetings, especially after the Orioles' best season in 15 years. He could return to Baltimore with some hardware. The Sporting News Executive of the Year Award is being announced Wednesday night, and Duquette has to be one of the favorites.
Duquette will bring top lieutenants such as special assistant Lee Thomas, director of baseball administration Tripp Norton and assistant director of major league operations Ned Rice with him to the meetings.
"We are here looking to meet with clubs to see how we can improve our team," Duquette said Tuesday night. "We have an improved club but we still have a lot of work in order to accomplish our goals."
Otherwise, there is occasionally a sliver of action at the GM meetings – two years ago the Braves traded for second baseman Dan Uggla from the Marlins – but it mostly serves as an appetizer to your hot-stove season.
However, there is reason to believe that this year's meetings could be more lively, in part because of new rules regarding compensation for free agents.
In the past, free agents weren't offered arbitration until December, but an adjustment in the collective bargaining agreement changed that. Beginning this offseason, teams had five days after the end of the season to make a qualifying offer of $13.3 million a year to their free agents in order to acquire a compensational draft pick. Those free agents who received qualifying offers have until Friday to accept or decline them.
So, basically, general managers and agents can gauge the market much earlier than in years past.
As for Duquette, he's made it clear that he's more likely to continue with lesser-known signings than dive into the big-money free-agent pool.
He will likely be a more popular man this season, especially considering the Orioles have added pitching depth over last year. The Orioles might be more willing to make a move this offseason because of that. Last year, teams tried to pry top prospects Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy away from the Orioles, but that wasn't happening.
All in all, don't expect much from this week, but it will be just enough to satiate you until we arrive at the Opryland Hotel next month.