Tag Archive | "Dan Duquette"

Jones defends Markakis’ strong words about Orioles departure

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Jones defends Markakis’ strong words about Orioles departure

Posted on 26 February 2015 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 12:00 p.m.)

SARASOTA, Fla. — The biggest headline stemming from Thursday’s workout in Sarasota involved a player who’s no longer with the Orioles.

More than two months after signing a four-year, $44 million with the Atlanta Braves, Nick Markakis fired a shot at the way the Orioles and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette handled negotiations. The 31-year-old underwent neck surgery Dec. 17 for a herniated disc he’s dealt with for two years, and the Orioles were concerned with the latest magnetic resonance imaging exam, prompting them to lower their initial offer of four years to three.

“Don’t believe a word they say,” Markakis said to USA TODAY on Wednesday. “It was all because of my neck. They can say what they want to make them look good. It’s all B.S.”

Center fielder Adam Jones was asked about his former teammate’s comments and expressed satisfaction that the normally-quiet Markakis spoke his mind.

Told Duquette had confirmed that the neck was a concern from the Orioles’ perspective, Jones still took exception to the timing of the comments after Markakis had already departed. The center fielder credited Markakis for playing through the neck issues over the last couple years, citing that nearly every player in baseball deals with various ailments over the course of a season.

“Now you want to say it two months later,” said Jones of Duquette. “Let’s say it when everybody is wanting to know right then and now. But it always comes out later. That’s just how this game is.”

Truthfully, Duquette acknowledged in early December that the Orioles had “concern that made the terms an issue” as it was reported at the time that the neck was a clear holdup. Markakis may have legitimate gripes about the way negotiations were handled behind closed doors, but Duquette going public about the health issues could have easily hurt the right fielder’s value in free agency with any team vying for his services.

In that regard, the Orioles might have actually been doing Markakis a favor.

It’s also worth noting that the Braves sold off a number of players this offseason after signing Markakis, making it likely he’ll be playing for a club with little chance of winning in 2015. Maybe some underlying frustration exists after he took Atlanta’s offer? Markakis hopes to be ready for Opening Day, but that isn’t a certainty, according to reports from Braves camp.

Meanwhile, the Orioles will try to turn to page without Markakis or 2014 home run king Nelson Cruz, who signed with Seattle in the offseason. Jones admits he’ll have to get used to someone different manning right field after spending the last seven years with the same guy.

“It’s going to be different looking to my left not having Markakis there just like it’s going to be different for Orioles fans knowing that 21′s not in right,” Jones said. “He’s been there for nine years, but it’s baseball. Cal [Ripken] retired, and somebody had to fill in. The game is going to continue. 2015 Opening Day’s not going to be halted because we don’t have Markakis. It’s just an adjustment we’re going to have to make. I think we’re going to be fine.”

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Cabrera offers different skill set to second base mix

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Cabrera offers different skill set to second base mix

Posted on 25 February 2015 by Luke Jones

SARASOTA, Fla. — After several days of anticipation as he finally resolved a lingering legal issue, infielder Everth Cabrera has officially joined the Orioles.

What the organization gets from the former San Diego Padres shortstop is anyone’s guess as the 28-year-old went from being an All-Star selection in 2013 to being suspended 50 games for the Biogenesis later that year and followed that disappointment with an injury-riddled campaign in which he was limited to 90 games in 2014. Cabrera hit only .232 with a .572 on-base plug slugging percentage last season, but his 99 stolen bases over the last three years provide some appeal for a club that ranked last in the majors in that department a season ago.

Signing the Nicaraguan infielder to a one-year, $2.4 million contract, the Orioles like his upside that is accompanied by a remaining minor-league option.

“He’s young, he’s hungry, he made the All Star team in 2013,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. “He can play a premium, skilled defensive position. He’s a switch hitter. He’s an outstanding baserunner and a premium base stealer. He’s got a lot of assets that can help the ball club and I’m sure we will find some good spots for him to help us win some ballgames.”

How Cabrera will fit into the picture remains to be seen. Starting second baseman Jonathan Schoop and utility infielder Ryan Flaherty appeared to be virtual locks for roster spots entering spring training, but Cabrera provides an element of speed that the other two don’t possess.

Considered the second baseman of the future by many, the 23-year-old Schoop posted a .598 OPS and walked only 13 times in 481 plate appearances during his rookie season. It’s possible that Cabrera might push Schoop for the starting job, but a more likely outcome would be him winning the utility infielder job from Flaherty.

After accepting a plea deal that included a fine, community service, and probation stemming from a resisting arrest charge last fall, Cabrera will now focus on proving the Orioles were wise to take a chance on him after two tumultuous seasons.

“I always think every spring training that I’ve got to compete,” said Cabrera, who spent much of the winter strengthening his hamstrings after injuries took their toll last year. “I don’t care where they’re going to put me. I’m going to play hard, and I’m going to compete every single day when they give me the opportunity to play.”

Cabrera will be busy this season getting acclimated to multiple infield positions after spending his entire career at shortstop for the Padres. He’s appeared in just 12 games at second base and only one at third base in his six-year major league career.

Manager Buck Showalter will give Cabrera every opportunity to prove himself to be worthy of a roster spot this spring, but he acknowledges not being overly familiar with the National League West in terms of evaluating the division’s talent. His speed on the bases is an obvious asset, but Cabrera will need to prove himself defensively before Showalter strongly considers using him in place of Schoop at second or designates him the primary utility man over Flaherty.

Keeping Schoop, Flaherty, and Cabrera on the 25-man roster appears to be unlikely, making the veteran’s signing an intriguing storyline to monitor this spring.

“He’s been doing a lot of work and had a very diligent offseason. I think the timing’s good with him,” said Showalter, who admitted Cabrera resolving his legal issues was a “prerequisite” to completing a deal. “This guy a lot of people considered one of the better infielders in the National League a couple years ago.

“We’ll see where the need is of the club and see if he can fit the need. He gives us some flexibility.”

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Machado, Wieters aiming to be in Opening Day lineup

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Machado, Wieters aiming to be in Opening Day lineup

Posted on 01 February 2015 by Luke Jones

An offseason filled with front-office uncertainty, key departures, and few additions hasn’t been easy for the Orioles.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette spent much of Saturday’s FanFest reiterating that his “singular focus” has always been on improving the defending American League East champions, but that doesn’t change the reality of losing outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and key reliever Andrew Miller. Coincidence or not, the acquisition of outfielder Travis Snider — the club’s biggest addition of the winter — came two days after Toronto ended its pursuit of Duquette to become the Blue Jays’ new chief executive officer and team president.

But the executive reminded everyone Saturday of the best “additions” to help the Orioles in 2015. The returns of All-Star third baseman Manny Machado and All-Star catcher Matt Wieters would go a long way in helping Baltimore advance to the postseason for the third time in four years.

“The biggest and most powerful improvement we have for our ball club this year is Machado’s coming back and Wieters is coming back,” Duquette said. “Those are two Gold Glove, power-hitting core players that can return to our lineup. That’s the most important component and addition that we can make to the team is to get those guys back healthy and doing what they do.”

The pair missed a combined 216 games last season, but both eye a return to the lineup for Opening Day. Many have pointed to the uncertainty in the outfield as a primary reason why the Orioles will slip from their 96-win mark reached a year ago, but the club continued to thrive last season with the combination of veteran Nick Hundley and rookie Caleb Joseph behind the plate for five months and utility man Ryan Flaherty spending much of the time at the hot corner in the final two months.

After suffering a season-ending knee injury for the second straight year last August, Machado has already been fully cleared for baseball activity and appears on track to not only be ready for the start of the regular season but to benefit from a full slate of Grapefruit League action, something he didn’t have last season when he missed all of spring training and the first month of action while working his way back from his first knee injury. With two healthy and surgically-repaired knees, the 22-year-old is hoping to build on what’s already been an impressive major league résumé.

“I’m ready to roll, ready to play some baseball. Running, hitting, whatever I’ve got to do to get ready,” Machado said. “I’ve had a lot of time. That’s been the key. I’ve had a lot of time to get ready and have an offseason. I was doing my rehab in Sarasota and then went down to Miami to do my usual weightlifting and get ready for baseball. It’s been exciting. It’s been four or five months that I haven’t been on a baseball field, so I’m really looking forward to spring training and being back on the field. People take spring training for granted, and it’s a very big key for success in the year.”

Wieters’ status for the beginning of the season is less certain as he continues to rehab his right elbow after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. His throwing progression has increased to 150 feet and he has been swinging the bat for roughly a month, but the three-time All-Star selection doesn’t anticipate being able to play games early in spring training.

Even if Wieters isn’t ready to get behind the plate at the beginning of the season, the Orioles could use him as a designated hitter as he continues to strengthen his elbow.

“We’re still in a phase where a lot could happen in the next couple months,” Wieters said. “It could get a lot better [and] it could slow down, but we won’t know until we go through the throwing program. But I’m preparing every part of my body to be ready for Opening Day, and that’s all I can do right now.”

Because of Wieters’ ability to hit free agency next winter, it will be interesting to see how much he tries to push his surgically-repaired elbow in returning to live-game action. Wieters and agent Scott Boras will undoubtedly want to grow his value and prove to potential suitors that he’s entirely healthy, but it can’t come at the expense of experiencing a setback.

Acknowledging how difficult it was watching his teammates compete in the 2014 postseason, Wieters has been itching for the start of spring training since last year ended, but he will be smart in continuing to follow his throwing program. A two-time Gold Glove winner, the 28-year-old catcher threw out at least 35 percent of runners attempting to steal in three straight seasons before his elbow problems came to the forefront last year when he threw out just one of 12 trying to steal.

“The main thing is we have to get the arm healthy enough to play the rest of my career,” Wieters said. “That’s the main goal — whenever that is. As soon as we feel like it is there, it’s time to strap it on and go. We don’t want to be feeling like we are babying it through the season. We want to get it healthy and ready to go.”

The Orioles hope Machado and Wieters can pick up where they left off prior to their 2014 surgeries, but it’s clear that the front office, coaching staff, and players aren’t sweating the offseason losses they’ve experienced nearly as much as the outside world. Replacing Cruz’s power, Markakis’ leadership, and Miller’s late-inning contributions won’t be easy, but there are too many remaining ingredients for the Orioles not to remain a favorite in a division they won by 12 games last year.

A pitching staff that has only lost one key bullpen member and returns every starter as well as one of the game’s best defenses should ease the concerns about a frustrating winter.

“While it’s important to improve your club in the offseason, we’re not really trying to win the offseason,” Duquette said. “We’re trying to put together a team that can compete and get to the postseason and prevail. That’s different than making headlines in the wintertime.”

The headlines have primarily been for the wrong reasons this offseason, but healthy returns from Machado and Wieters would be crucial cogs for the Orioles’ vision of returning to the playoffs.

 

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Is Duquette now a lame duck for 2015 season?

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Is Duquette now a lame duck for 2015 season?

Posted on 27 January 2015 by Luke Jones

The story has apparently ended with both sides pretending there’s nothing to see here.

The Toronto Blue Jays announced they’re keeping president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston before he retires at the end of the 2015 season while Dan Duquette remains under contract with the Orioles through 2018. We’re to believe everything is fine after a seven-week saga of rumors, reports, and deafening silence involving both American League East foes.

Blue Jays chairman Edward Rogers broke his silence Monday without addressing why he reportedly pursued Beeston’s replacement without alerting the longtime executive of his intentions. Meanwhile, we’ve yet to hear from Duquette or Orioles owner Peter Angelos since Toronto announced a one-year contract extension for their current president.

“We have been in discussions with Paul about his future with the team since his contract expired in October,” Rogers said in a release. “There were many rumors flying about, but it would have been inappropriate to comment on such matters publicly. Make no mistake — we are elated to have Paul continue to lead the team for this season.”

In the coming days, we’ll hear Duquette state his commitment to the Orioles — perhaps at Saturday’s FanFest in front of thousands of fans — and how he’s dedicated to bringing another winner to Baltimore, but will anyone believe him after weeks of declining comment on the Toronto situation? Yes, Angelos and the Orioles dug their heels in when it came to compensation and won, but you wonder if it still results in a losing outcome with a man in charge who doesn’t have his heart in Baltimore.

Make no mistake, the Blue Jays handled this poorly in not only disrespecting Beeston — a man who became the first employee of the expansion team in 1976 — but also ignoring the decorum of how to pursue another club’s employee, which doesn’t include trying to poach the executive vice president of baseball operations in the middle of an offseason.

Toronto put the Orioles in a terrible spot and expecting compensation was more than understandable, but asking for a package of three top prospects — an absurd return in relation to similar front office transactions in recent years — with the thought that it would prompt the Blue Jays to back off was shortsighted as it relates to Duquette’s future in Baltimore. His contract suggests he’ll remain with the Orioles for the next four seasons, but the events of the last two months make it look like Duquette could be a lame duck for the 2015 season, especially if the Blue Jays come calling again after the season.

Is the 56-year-old really invested in the Orioles after seeing a sparkling promotion dangled in front of him for weeks?

Are the reports of some in the organization preferring that Duquette be allowed to leave simply forgotten?

Have Duquette’s relationships with Angelos, manager Buck Showalter, and other front office members suffered irreparable harm?

Those questions don’t even address how little the Orioles have done this offseason after losing outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and top reliever Andrew Miller in free agency. Duquette’s approach hasn’t exactly been a high-profile or aggressive one in his four-year tenure with the club except for the signings of pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and Cruz during last year’s spring training, but his lack of activity casts doubt as the Orioles try to build on last season’s AL Championship Series appearance.

One of the reasons why the Orioles have experienced three straight winning seasons has been Angelos’ trust in Duquette and Showalter in recent years. With the 85-year-old owner mentioning Duquette’s contract and commitment on more than one occasion over the last two months, you wonder how much Angelos now trusts the man he rescued out of baseball purgatory a few years ago.

Even with the losses suffered this offseason, the Orioles remain serious contenders in the AL East and are led by one of the best managers in baseball.

But it’s difficult not to feel like Duquette has one foot out the door — even if his current title and contract suggests otherwise.

And that’s not a good place to be for a club and a fan base with championship aspirations.

 

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Toronto reportedly ends pursuit of Duquette

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Toronto reportedly ends pursuit of Duquette

Posted on 25 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Has the Dan Duquette saga finally reached its end?

According to a report from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, the Toronto Blue Jays have ended their pursuit of the executive vice president of baseball operations after the Orioles wouldn’t budge on their demand for 2014 first-round pitcher Jeff Hoffman and two other top prospects as compensation in a deal. News first broke of Toronto’s interest in Duquette becoming their chief executive officer and president seven weeks ago, but owner Peter Angelos had repeatedly stated that he expected his top front office man to fulfill his contractual obligation with the Orioles.

There had been conflicting reports in recent days that the sides were moving closer to an agreement, but the Orioles’ demands were quite lucrative in comparison to the modest deals involving executives in recent history. Of course, the organization didn’t take too kindly to a division rival attempting to poach Duquette in the middle of a critical offseason in which the Orioles are attempting to build on their 2014 American League East title.

Duquette remains under contract with the Orioles through the 2018 season, but his silence over the last several weeks made it clear that he was interested in accepting the promotion with the Blue Jays. With the story having stretched out for so long, it’s fair to question if Duquette remaining with the Orioles is really what’s best for the organization at this point if his heart is in another job.

Of course, nothing would appear to be stopping the Blue Jays from re-engaging in talks, at least until we hear from any of the involved parties publicly.

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Duquette story moving closer to its conclusion?

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Duquette story moving closer to its conclusion?

Posted on 24 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Opinions and reports vary on the future of Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, but this much has become abundantly clear about the story that’s now seven weeks old.

It needs to end.

There appears to be growing optimism about a deal being consummated with the Toronto Blue Jays that would allow Duquette to become their new president and chief executive officer. But we’ve heard this before and reports in recent days have painted different pictures of how imminent an agreement might be.

Of course, a deal won’t be official until we see Duquette formally introduced as the new boss in Toronto as compensation continues to be the biggest obstacle. According to ESPN, Toronto’s 2014 first-round pick and right-handed pitcher Jeff Hoffman has been discussed and would be a lucrative return in exchange for an executive compared to similar transactions completed in recent years.

But would one top prospect be enough for the Orioles and owner Peter Angelos? And are the Blue Jays willing to part with premium talent simply to hire a front office man, albeit a successful one?

There is some speculation that the Blue Jays could — and should — walk away from Duquette, but you wonder if that would be the best outcome for the Orioles at this point as the 56-year-old’s silence on the situation speaks volumes about his desire to go to Toronto. Trust will undoubtedly be a concern should Duquette remain with the Orioles.

Whatever the outcome, the Orioles would be wise to have a resolution in time for next Saturday’s FanFest in which Duquette has annually participated in fan forums. The saga has been disruptive for an organization trying to build on its 2014 American League East title this offseason, but it would be embarrassing for Duquette’s uncertain future to be out in the open for fans to see — and question.

It isn’t over until it’s over, but the developments of the last few days create hope that this matter will be closed sooner rather than later.

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Duquette’s silence on status remains deafening for Orioles

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Duquette’s silence on status remains deafening for Orioles

Posted on 19 January 2015 by Luke Jones

It just wouldn’t be a new week without another tidbit or two on the uncertain future of Dan Duquette in Baltimore.

Despite last week’s comments from Orioles owner Peter Angelos stating a transaction won’t take place, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations continues to be pursued by the Toronto Blue Jays, who are apparently receiving assistance in their efforts, according to a FOX Sports report:

 

There are a couple different ways to look at this latest development. Baseball could simply be trying to facilitate a deal in hopes of preserving the industry courtesy — but hardly a rule — of allowing an executive to accept a promotion elsewhere. One way or the other, a resolution is in order to remedy what appears to be an unhealthy situation in the Orioles’ front office, and maybe new commissioner Rob Manfred sees that like virtually anyone else.

The other more cynical view would be to wonder why MLB feels compelled to get involved in one team’s pursuit of an executive who still has four years remaining on his contract with his current club. On the heels of the 2016 All-Star Game being awarded to San Diego instead of Baltimore, baseball attempting to get involved in the Duquette saga makes some wonder if this is the latest example of fallout from the ongoing MASN dispute.

An update from FOX Sports later on Monday suggested the league isn’t actively involved in discussing any terms of a potential deal and is unlikely to force Angelos to release Duquette from his contract.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the league’s involvement has left other clubs confused as well:

 

As has been the case since early December, Duquette continues to add to the uncertainty as he declined to address the situation when reached by The Sun on Monday. His silence is deafening as it relates to his true intentions as he would have shot down the rumors of wanting to leave the Orioles weeks ago if they weren’t true.

“At this point, there really is nothing to say on the issue,” Duquette told The Sun. “I don’t have a comment on the issue you want to talk about.

“I will talk about it when the time is appropriate.”

When that time comes is anyone’s guess, but this stalemate can’t be considered healthy for a club that’s failed to make a significant offseason acquisition with less than a month remaining until the start of spring training.

Wanting an executive to honor his contract or at least demanding proper compensation from the Blue Jays is understandable, but continuing on much longer with a man entrusted to run the organization who isn’t committed to the job is a recipe for significant trouble.

At what point does it stop being about what’s best for the Orioles and simply become a matter of winning the fight?

Or has it already gotten to that point?

 

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Orioles need resolution in Duquette saga

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Orioles need resolution in Duquette saga

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Luke Jones

It’s the story that won’t go away and it’s not a good one for the Orioles.

Nearly six weeks after reports first surfaced about executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette being targeted to become the new president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays — and owner Peter Angelos fired back by saying the Orioles wouldn’t relinquish their contract running through 2018 — multiple outlets reported Wednesday that the sides were negotiating compensation and moving closer to an agreement. Angelos again responded by saying Duquette wasn’t going anywhere, creating more confusion about what will happen next.

“That is not going to happen. There have not been any changes in the status of Dan Duquette,” Angelos said to The Sun. “He is our GM and he is going to remain our GM. He is concentrating on his efforts to determine the composition of our team for 2015. That is the answer. Period.”

As was the case in early December, it’s easy to understand both sides’ perspective and wonder how much trust remains, but how much longer can this saga continue? Even with a contract in place, are the Orioles benefiting from continuing to employ a head baseball man who appears to have his heart in another place?

It’s time to ask Duquette point-blank whether he’s in or out.

Trying to analyze Duquette’s work in what’s been a lackluster offseason is difficult due to his unorthodox style that was on display in each of the previous three winters, but it’s becoming easier to question how diligently he’s tried to improve his current club with the reports linking him to Toronto not going away.

Angelos and the Orioles have every right to be unhappy with the timing of this pursuit and should be concerned with an American League East rival trying to poach their general manager. They’re certainly entitled to seek as much compensation as they can before seriously entertaining the thought of letting him go.

But at what point does the fight to keep him become counterproductive to the future of the organization?

If Duquette is no longer committed to the Orioles, it makes little sense to remain committed to him.

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Orioles add two right-handed pitchers in Rule 5 draft

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Orioles add two right-handed pitchers in Rule 5 draft

Posted on 11 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles completed their quiet week at the annual winter meetings in San Diego Thursday with the addition of two right-handed pitchers in the Rule 5 draft.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette acquired pitcher Jason Garcia in exchange for cash considerations from the Houston Astros after he’d been selected fourth overall in the Rule 5 draft from the Boston Red Sox organization. The Orioles then selected right-hander Logan Verrett from the New York Mets organization.

The 22-year-old Garcia carries some intrigue as he was clocked in the high 90s while pitching in the instructional league this fall. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, Garcia went 3-2 with three saves and a 3.67 ERA in 56 1/3 innings between short-season Single-A Lowell and Single-A Greenville.

Garcia struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings and held right-handed hitters to a .189 average in 121 total plate appearances. The Orioles are expected to take a look at him as a relief pitcher during spring training, but keeping him would restrict their roster flexibility because of the need to keep him on the 25-man roster.

Originally selected by Boston in the 17th round of the 2010 amateur draft out of Land O’Lakes High School in Florida, Garcia has gone 15-16 with a 4.69 ERA in 73 minor league games (51 starts).

The 24-year-old Verrett went 11-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 28 starts spanning 162 innings with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014. He went 28-13 with a 3.89 ERA in his three years in the Mets organization.

Verrett was originally selected in the third round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Baylor University.

The additions of Garcia and Verrett mean the Orioles currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster. Garcia and Verrett would need to remain on the 25-man roster all season.

This marks the fourth straight year that Duquette has added at least one player in the Rule 5 draft, taking infielder Ryan Flaherty in 2011, left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland in 2012, and infielder Michael Almanzar last year.

In the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles selected outfielder and first baseman Sean Halton of the Milwaukee organization in the Triple-A phase.

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Report: Blue Jays team president staying put for 2015 season

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Luke Jones

It appears the uncertainty surrounding Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was all for nothing.

According to the Toronto Sun and FOX Sports, Toronto Blue Jays team president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston will remain in the position through the 2015 season. The news likely means the Orioles can rest easy about Duquette, who was reportedly interested in the job and viewed as a top candidate.

It remains unclear why news of potential replacements for the Blue Jays position was floated, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos made it clear Sunday that he expected Duquette to honor his current contract that runs through the 2018 season. Duquette reiterated Monday that he was under contract and representing the Orioles at the winter meetings, but he didn’t go out of his way to squash reports of his potential interest in joining the Blue Jays.

Beeston has spent large stretches of the last four decades working in the Blue Jays organization, serving as CEO from 1991 through 1997 and then returning to Toronto in the same capacity in 2008 after a five-year stint as the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball.

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