Hours after reports surfaced that Buck Showalter was let go as manager after more than eight years with the Orioles, the team announced on Wednesday that it was also parting ways with Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette.
The team announced the moves shortly after 8 p.m.
Brian Graham, the team’s director of player development, will serve as interim general manager while a search for the new head of baseball operations begins.
Graham, scouting director Gary Rajsich and Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson remain under contract, according to the Orioles.
Orioles spokesman Greg Bader issued the following statement on behalf of the Angelos family:
“With the conclusion of the 2018 season, the club has decided to reorganize its Baseball Operations department under new executive management. We thank Dan and Buck for their many contributions over the past several years. Under their leadership, prior to the 2018 season and for six consecutive years, the club delivered competitive teams playing meaningful baseball into September, achieved three postseason appearances and came within four games of a World Series appearance, and won more games than any other American League club during a period spanning five of those six enjoyable seasons.
“Everyone in Birdland and across our organization will cherish these memories, and we all join in thanking Dan and Buck for their contributions.
“As we look forward to the next chapter of Orioles Baseball, we are grateful for the ongoing support of our fans. While this year has been a challenge, the organization is determined to grow and change in ways that will ultimately lead us back to the postseason.”
Duquette engineered a series of trades in July that began a rebuild for the Orioles. After Manny Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, he said that the team was changing the way it did business.
Showalter’s dismissal came after a meeting with John Angelos, the team’s executive vice president, and ownership representative Louis Angelos on Wednesday morning.
The partnership of Duquette and Showalter, which was often not a harmonious one, brought the Orioles three postseason berths from 2012-16 but once the 2017 season ended with 19 losses in the final 23 games, things become rockier.
Instead of trading Machado at December’s Winter Meetings, which was a strong consideration, the Orioles decided to sign free-agent pitchers Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb during spring training, moves spearheaded by Anderson.
When it was evident the season was lost, a decision was made to rebuild. The Orioles also dealt Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Jonathan Schoop. Adam Jones vetoed a proposed deal to the Philadelphia Phillies.
There was speculation that Duquette’s position had been secured by the trades, and he was optimistic about his future in the final days of the season. However, he never said publicly or privately that he was returning.
Showalter, who was assured late last year by managing partner Peter Angelos that he could continue managing the Orioles if he wished, did not appear as optimistic. He never asked for reassurance from the Angelos family that he would return.
Duquette and Showalter’s disagreements were never public, and for years they managed to work together successfully.
In Duquette’s seven years, he had his share of successes: signing free-agent pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez in 2012, negotiated extensions with both Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy, and signed free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz to a one-year contract in 2014, a move that turned out brilliantly for the team.
After the Orioles advanced to the American League Championship Series in 2014, Duquette attempted to leave Baltimore to become the Toronto Blue Jays’ team president, a move that was denied by Peter Angelos.
That winter, the Orioles didn’t re-sign Cruz, Nick Markakis or reliever Andrew Miller, and Duquette’s trades to find replacements didn’t work out.
Although the decision to re-sign Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161-million contract was largely Angelos’, it hamstrung Duquette. He re-signed O’Day to a four-year, $31-million contract shortly before Davis re-upped, and it didn’t work out well, either.
Gausman and O’Day were sent to Atlanta so the Orioles could receive $2.5 million in international signing bonus money slots as well as four minor league players.
For years, the Orioles declined to participate in the international market, a move that set them apart from the rest of Major League Baseball. In July, Duquette announced that the Orioles would re-enter the market, and since then, they’ve made a handful of signings but still have more than $6 million to spend on international prospects.
On Friday, the Orioles will scout highly touted Cuban outfield prospect Victor Victor Mesa in Miami, and Duquette will not be a part of it.