Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year on Monday evening at the general managers' meetings in Phoenix.
Duquette built an Orioles team that won 96 games and claimed the American League East division title for the first time since 1997. The Orioles also advanced to the AL Championship Series after a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series.
This is the second time Duquette was won the award, which was first given in 1936 and is selected by fellow major league executives, including general managers and assistant general managers. He also won in 1992, his first full season as general manager of the Montreal Expos after the club improved by 16 wins over the previous year.
Duquette, 56, is the first Orioles executive to win the award since Roland Hemond received the honor in 1989. Harry Dalton, the former Orioles general manager who first hired Duquette with the Milwaukee Brewers, won the award with the Orioles in 1970, and Hank Peters was a two-time winner in 1979 and 1983.
In leading the Orioles to the AL East championship this season, Duquette made a series of tactical moves, taking advantage of a stagnant market on free agents tied to qualifying offers by signing outfielder Nelson Cruz.
Duquette signed Cruz -- who had declined a $14.1 million qualifying offer to remain with the Texas Rangers earlier in the offseason -- to a one-year, $8 million contract in February.
Because the Orioles had already forfeited their first two draft picks, including their first-round selection to sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year deal, they only lost a second-round pick in order to sign Cruz, who went on to lead the major leagues with a career-high 40 home runs and carried the Orioles' offense through some lean stretches.
The deal to sign Cruz wasn't the only savvy move by Duquette in 2014.
In January, his signing of Delmon Young to a minor league deal didn't draw headlines, but the veteran outfielder played a pivotal role in the Orioles' lineup shuffle and arguably came up with the biggest hit of the season with a pinch-hit, three-run double in Game 2 of the ALDS.
In April, the Orioles used a service-time loophole to re-sign first baseman-outfielder Steve Pearce after the team was forced to designated him for assignment days earlier.
Pearce was claimed on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, but he refused the assignment, became a free agent and re-signed with the Orioles. Pearce immediately filled in at first base with Chris Davis out with an oblique strain and went on to have a career year.
When catcher Matt Wieters experienced discomfort in his throwing elbow, Duquette was proactive and acquired catcher Nick Hundley in a trade with the San Diego Padres for left-hander Troy Patton.
The bargain move paid dividends when Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery that ended his season, giving the Orioles a veteran catcher to share time with rookie Caleb Joseph. The duo performed well in the absence of Wieters.
Duquette also acquired relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, bolstering the team's bullpen with a dominating left-hander.
Though the Orioles had to give up left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez in the deal, Miller had an incredible impact down the stretch, allowing just three runs and eight hits and in 20 innings with the Orioles. He struck out 34 hitters in that span.
Miller also was dominating in the postseason, tossing 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit while striking out eight batters.
One month after adding Miller, the Orioles traded for outfielder Alejandro De Aza from the Chicago White Sox, giving the team an additional left-handed hitter to balance the order.
De Aza flourished, hitting .293/.341./.537 in 20 regular-season games with the Orioles. He was 7-for-21 with three RBIs in six playoff games.
Here are the vote totals:
1. Duquette, Orioles -- 9 votes
2. Dayton Moore, Royals -- 8 votes
3. Jerry Dipoto, Angels -- 5 votes
4. Billy Beane, Athletics -- 4 votes
5. Mike Rizzo, Nationals -- 3 votes
6. Brian Cashman, Yankees -- 1 vote
7. Jack Zduriencik, Mariners -- 1 vote
8. Doug Melvin, Brewers -- 1 vote
9. Ned Colletti, Dodgers -- 1 vote