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Orioles could get surplus of draft picks in qualifying offer process

Depending on whether the Orioles are able to retain Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, next year¿s draft could be the club¿s most important in years.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette often says that the Orioles' ability to sustain success is rooted in player development, that it's necessary for the organization to draft well and develop players throughout their minor league system.

Depending on whether the Orioles are able to retain Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, next year's draft could be the club's most important in years.

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Each of those three players received a qualifying offer on Friday, meaning if they decline those one-year, $15.8-million contract proposals and sign elsewhere, the Orioles will receive a compensation pick for each following the first round of the draft.

The teams that sign Chen, Davis and Wieters will lose their highest unprotected pick. If all three go to another team, the Orioles will receive three additional picks.

Add in the club's first-round pick (15th overall), their second-round pick, a compensation pick for being unable to sign last year's second-round pick Jonathan Hughes, their competitive-balance pick after the second round and their third-round pick and the Orioles will have eight picks in the first three rounds.

Yes, eight picks in the first three rounds.

By comparison, the Orioles had four selections in the first 102 picks in 2015. They would have had five, but traded their competitive balance pick to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Ryan Webb deal in April. The competitive balance pick is the only pick that can be traded, and the Orioles have traded that pick the past two years (the 2014 pick was traded to Houston in the Bud Norris deal).

If Chen, Davis and Wieters decline the qualifying offers – that has happened the 34 previous times a team has made the offer -- the Orioles still plan to make a strong play for Davis, but it's likely that Chen and Wieters will be playing in different uniforms next season.

By making the qualifying offers, the Orioles have ensured they won't be left empty handed.

A total of 20 free agents were made qualifying offers, the most in four years of existence. And some of those players would seem to be Orioles targets. Those players might not be so appealing since the Orioles would have to forfeit the 15th overall selected, which is the organization's highest pick since drafting Kevin Gausman fourth overall in 2012.

So, players who were attractive targets a few days ago – such as Jordan Zimmerman, Alex Gordon, Daniel Murphy, Marco Estrada and Colby Rasmus – might not be worth losing a first-round pick to sign.

At the same time, think about what the Orioles did two springs ago. Duquette waited out the market and was able to land slugger Nelson Cruz, who was tied to draft-pick compensation, on a one-year, $8-million deal. Before signing Cruz, the Orioles inked right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who was also tied to a compensation pick, costing them their first-round selection. The Orioles signed Cruz, who went on to lead the majors in home runs, by forfeiting a second-round pick.

That season, the Orioles didn't have a selection until the 90th overall pick. And you can't develop players you don't have.

But the Orioles could use this surplus of draft picks to help them now. The Orioles and Dodgers are the only teams that can receive up to three compensation picks from the qualifying offer process.

That means they have picks they might be willing to part with. That would allow them to invest in some of this year's free agents tied to compensation picks and not leave them void of top-three round picks, as was the case after they made late runs at Jimenez and Cruz in 2014.

-> Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is one of three finalists for this year's Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, which is given annually by the players union to a player who best "inspires others through his on-field performances and contributions to his community."

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Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon and White Sox closer David Robertson are the other two finalists.

The winner of the Marvin Miller award will be announced Monday as part of the Players Choice Awards show on MLB Network at 8 p.m.

One representative from each club was selected by player vote. The winners and finalists for each award were selected by players in September.

The winner of the Marvin Miller award will receive a $50,000 grant from the Players Trust to donate to a charity of his choice.

Jones has been involved in the local community for several years, working closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore to renovate two youth centers in Baltimore – the Brooklyn O'Malley Boys and Girls Club and the Westport/Winans Homes Boys and Girls Club.

For the third straight year, Jones is holding a #StayHungry Purple Tailgate benefit before a Ravens game – this year's will be Dec. 14 – and the event has raised $20,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.

Along with the players union, Jones hosted a clinic for inner city youth in West Baltimore following the riots this spring. He has also participated in events to benefit the YMCA of Central Maryland, the local Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program and James Mosher Little League.

Jones is the only Orioles player among the finalists for the Players Choice awards, which also recognize the most outstanding position player, pitcher, rookie and comeback player in each league, as well as an overall Player of the Year.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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