While contracts for many of the Orioles’ on-field and off-field baseball operations staff expire on Oct. 31, some inside the organization saw a common thread among those informed Friday they wouldn't be brought back for 2019.
All five who were told Friday their contracts won't be renewed had previous connections to former executive vice president Dan Duquette. They were Triple-A manager Ron Johnson, East Coast scouting supervisor Kirk Fredriksson, director of Dominican baseball operations Nelson Norman, special assistant Matt Haas and area scout Dana Duquette — Duquette's son.
With a full-scale rebuild expected as the team searches for a new baseball operations chief, the staff realizes that change is inevitable. The sense is that those who aren't let go between now and the end of their contracts will return in 2019, and those decisions won’t go past Oct. 31.
But the connection to Duquette stands out among Friday’s dismissals.
Johnson, who has managed Norfolk since the 2012 season, won the Orioles’ Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award in 2018. He was a manager in the Boston Red Sox system when Duquette was the general manager there.
Fredriksson was connected to Duquette through the New England Collegiate Baseball League before each arrived at the Orioles. He signed Trey Mancini and Ryan McKenna before taking on a supervisory role on recent high picks DL Hall, Austin Hays and others. McKenna, Hall and Hays are among the organization’s top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America.
Haas worked for Duquette in Boston before being hired by the Orioles as a national crosschecker in 2012. Norman, a former big leaguer, worked with Duquette with the Montreal Expos and Red Sox before he was hired in 2013, and Dana Duquette has been with the Orioles as a northeast scout since 2015.
Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were informed by the organization that it was moving in a different direction on Oct. 3.
Though the Orioles expect most off-field personnel decisions to be made by the time contracts expire next week, the existing deals become at-will unless they’re acted upon before the expiration date.
Friday could have just been the start of a series of changes in personnel, with director of player development Brian Graham running operations on a day-to-day basis as interim general manager, until new hires are made. But staff is still required for things such as minor league and major league free agency as well as 40-man roster additions.
Historically, contracts for Orioles coaches and baseball operations staff have been on a January-to-January basis, but this year's contracts were drawn up to expire Oct. 31.
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While some teams are already staffed for 2019, knowing now versus knowing in January could make it easier to find new jobs if they aren't retained by the Orioles.