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Orioles' search for top exec moves forward but could hit snags

The Orioles' search for a new top executive is progressing, with the club receiving permission to interview Arizona Diamondbacks senior vice president Jerry Dipoto and Toronto Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava, who are both expected to be in Baltimore next week.

The Orioles also have sought permission from the Florida Marlins to interview assistant GM Dan Jennings but are still awaiting word. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is out of the country and has not responded to the request.

The interviews, which will be conducted by a committee that likely includes manager Buck Showalter, principal owner Peter Angelos, his son Lou Angelos, club general counsel H. Russell Smouse and baseball operations director Matt Klentak, are the first step in replacing Andy MacPhail, who stepped down this month as president of baseball operations.

Dipoto, 43, a former big league pitcher from New Jersey who was the Diamondbacks' interim GM last season, and LaCava, 50, a Pittsburgh native and longtime scout who oversees the Blue Jays' ballyhooed player-development and international systems, will be the first two to interview.

More are expected to follow, with a potential list of candidates including Detroit Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GMs De Jon Watson and Logan White and former Los Angeles Angels GM Tony Reagins. Former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi and Texas Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, among others, have also been mentioned in the mix but are considered secondary candidates.

It is believed none in that group has been contacted for an interview.

Although teams typically allow their employees to interview for higher-level jobs in other organizations, both Jennings and Avila have signed long-term extensions with their clubs through 2015 — so they very well could be denied permission.

In Jennings' case, the Marlins have denied permission three times in the past but might grant it this time because he is now halfway through his eight-year extension and his opportunities to become a general manager could be waning.

Avila, who had interviewed with the Orioles when Jim Duquette was hired, is in high demand, especially with the Tigers on their current run in the American League Championship Series. The Orioles probably wouldn't attempt to get permission for him until after Detroit's season ends.

It might not matter. Avila signed a four-year extension last month. The contract allows the Tigers to refuse permission for him to speak to another club. With that language included, it's unlikely they would allow him to talk to the Orioles — or the reportedly interested Angels — so soon.

In each case, it's possible the Orioles could work a deal with the opposing club, offering compensation in the form of players or cash if they really wanted one of those two men. But with other attractive candidates, it's doubtful they would go that far.

Reagins, who lost his job as Angels GM and was reassigned as a special assistant in September, likely would be able to freely move to another organization if he desired. Watson and White also likely would be able to interview for a GM job — as they did last year with the Diamondbacks. But the Dodgers' ownership and economic situations are in such flux that it it's difficult to know what will happen there.

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