Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have both earned recognition for the Orioles' 2014 season.
Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have both earned recognition for the Orioles' 2014 season. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

This is shaping up to be a big week for the Orioles.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette was named the Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year on Monday night at the general managers' meetings in Phoenix. The winner of the award was decided by 33 front office executives.

Tonight, manager Buck Showalter could win the Baseball Writers' Association of America's American League Manager of the Year award.

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Showalter is the favorite to win the award over fellow finalists Mike Scioscia (Los Angeles Angels) and Ned Yost (Kansas City Royals). Voting by members of the BBWAA was completed before the postseason began.

Showalter won the award in 1994 with the New York Yankees and in 2004 with the Texas Rangers. If he wins tonight, that's an interesting pattern. Who will Showalter be managing in 2024?

We now know officially that Nelson Cruz has declined the Orioles' $15.3 million qualifying offer. That was expected, as we know Cruz is looking for a multiyear deal after hitting a career-high 40 homers at age 34.

Cruz said last week that staying with the Orioles is still his first choice. We should start to see how much he wants to remain in Baltimore over the next few weeks.

Keep in mind that the Orioles gave up their second-round pick – the 55th overall – last season in order to sign Cruz, because he was tied to a qualifying offer then. If Cruz signs elsewhere, the Orioles will receive  a compensation draft pick after the first round.

This is the third year of the qualifying offer process and both players and teams are still trying to figure it out. In years past, teams have been hesitant to give up a draft pick to sign a free agent tied to a qualifying offer.

One of those 12 free agents this year, Michael Cuddyer, signed a two-year, $21 million deal with the New York Mets on Monday. The Mets forfeited the 15th overall pick in next year's draft to sign Cuddyer, who played in just 49 games last season.

It will be interesting to see if other teams are that willing to give up draft picks.

If Cruz signs elsewhere, the Orioles would have five draft picks in the first three rounds next June (they will also have a competitive-balance pick). That would place added emphasis on the draft one year after the Orioles didn't have a pick until the third round.

It's a valuable opportunity to place five solid players into the minor league system. It will be a critical time for the Orioles to ensure they can take the best five available in that span and make the financial commitment to sign them.

It's especially important because over the past few years, the Orioles have dealt some of their better prospects – left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Andrew Miller, jumps to mind – in order to make some important in-season deals.

The Orioles need to use those picks to replenish the farm system and create a bigger pool of legitimate prospects that will either help the major league club or can be used as trade bait down the road.

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