While the Orioles became more open in recent days to allowing Dan Duquette to go to the Toronto Blue Jays, the biggest obstacle remained whether the two sides could agree on a compensation package in order to allow the executive vice president out of his contract.
In order to let Duquette free, the Orioles have been seeking some of the Blue Jays' top prospects in return, according to sources, attempting what would be an unprecedented haul in exchange for a front-office executive.
Because of the Orioles' demands, the Blue Jays have ended their negotiations for Duquette, according to a report published Sunday by Sportsnet.ca. But that doesn't necessarily end the long-lingering situation. One club source said this isn't the first time the Blue Jays have pulled away from compensation talks, and the belief is that Orioles ownership isn't budging from its demands.
How far any negotiations between the clubs progressed is unclear, but no deal was imminent in recent days, according to a source. Duquette, who has built two playoff teams in his three years with the Orioles, would replace Paul Beeston as the Blue Jays' president and chief executive officer if the two teams reach an agreement.
Neither the Blue Jays nor Duquette have publicly addressed the situation since the news first arose at last month's winter meetings. Duquette has repeatedly said he has no comment on the situation, most recently Thursday at a Baseball Writers' Association of America chapter awards banquet in Boston. Duquette was scheduled to be a guest at the Pitch and Hit Club banquet in Chicago on Sunday.
Duquette is signed through the 2018 season, and initially, managing partner Peter G. Angelos was firm in saying publicly that he expected Duquette to honor the full length of his contract. But Duquette has expressed his interest in pursuing the Toronto job known to Orioles ownership, according to multiple sources. The Orioles don't have a team president/CEO position in their front-office structure, and its responsibilities are held by Angelos.
About five to six players in the Blue Jays organization, all among the club's top prospects, were discussed internally by the Orioles, according to a source, and any combination of players would have been deemed as a major haul by those in the Orioles organization, the source said.
Among those players were the Blue Jays' two first-round draft picks in 2014 — right-hander Jeff Hoffman, the ninth overall pick out of East Carolina, and catcher Max Pentecost, the 11th overall selection out of Kennesaw State. Hoffman is ranked as Toronto's third-best prospect, according to Baseball America, and Pentecost is sixth. The Blue Jays gave the duo nearly $6 million in signing bonuses last year.
According to the Sportsnet report, the Orioles also asked for third baseman Mitch Nay, a first-round pick in 2012.
In the past, compensation for front-office executives has been minimal, usually just a fringe player or an exchange of cash. When the Boston Red Sox allowed general manager Theo Epstein to become the Chicago Cubs' president of baseball operations in 2011, Boston received right-hander Chris Carpenter, who pitched just six innings with the Red Sox before the club released him at the end of the 2013 season.
The Blue Jays were believed to be open to offering the Orioles a compensation package of minor leaguers more in line with past deals for front-office executives like the Epstein-Carpenter swap, according to the Sportsnet report.
With still no word from Duquette, the next week figures to be interesting.
He is scheduled to be a guest at the Aberdeen IronBirds' annual Hot Stove Dinner on Thursday. The Orioles' annual FanFest event, which typically features a question-and-answer session with Duquette and manager Buck Showalter, is two days later at the Baltimore Convention Center.