As Orioles improve under Elias, Duquette may get some credit -
Rich Dubroff

As Orioles improve under Elias, Duquette may get some credit

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Nearly a year after he was fired after seven years as the Orioles’ top baseball executive, Dan Duquette’s influence remains strong. That might seem counterintuitive, especially since his successor, Mike Elias, has put a definitive stamp on the franchise.

Late last month, Elias dismissed 11 front office officials and scouts, some of whom Duquette hired, and others who predated him. That leaves few people in the front office with whom Duquette aworked.

Elias will continue his makeover after the minor league seasons end.

Still, while Elias has a manager, Brandon Hyde, who’s firmly in control and a coaching staff largely from outside the organization, most of the players were brought in by Duquette.

Of the 55 players used by the Orioles this season, 33 were acquired during the Duquette era. Three — Dylan Bundy, Chris Davis and Mychal Givens — came when Duquette’s predecessor, Andy MacPhail, ran the show.

Elias’ influence on the roster, already significant, will grow as he continues to make trades, waiver claims, free-agent signings and his amateur talent becomes major league ready.

But so will Duquette’s influence. Other than Elias’ sterling draft picks this June — Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers — all of the top prospects in the minor leagues were Duquette acquisitions.

Pitchers Keegan Akin, Michael Baumann, DL Hall, Zac Lowther, Grayson Rodriguez and Cody Sedlock were snapped up in Duquette’s final three drafts (2016-18), allowing Elias to concentrate on position players in the first seven rounds of this year’s drafts.

Pitchers Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Bruce Zimmermann, and outfielder Yusniel Diaz were part of the July 2018 deal that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Akin, Kremer and Zimmermann are finishing the year at Triple-A Norfolk. Baumann, Lowther and Sedlock are pitching for Double-A Bowie, while Pop, who had Tommy John surgery early this season, is expected to return sometime next spring.

Diaz, whose season has been shortened by injuries, managed to improve while with the Baysox and is considered a prime outfield prospect.

Other promising Baysox players are pitcher Alex Wells, who was the organization’s Pitcher of the Year in 2017 at Low-A Delmarva, and outfielder Ryan McKenna.

Wells was signed from Australia and has had an excellent season for Bowie. McKenna’s offensive numbers are disappointing but his speed and defense make him a possible major league prospect.

Austin Hays, another high draft pick in 2016, could have a regular role in the outfield in 2020.

In the lower minors, Hall, who was the first pick in 2017, and Brenan Hanifee, a fourth-round choice in 2016, were at High-A Frederick this season, and Rodriguez, last year’s top pick, has enjoyed a brilliant year for Low-A Delmarva.

Other Duquette pickups have improved after their roles changed under the Elias administration.

Hunter Harvey, who had years of injuries, has finally made it to the major leagues six years after he was drafted. Harvey, whom the Orioles hoped would be a top-of-the-rotation starter, flourished when he was converted to the bullpen in June and projects as a dynamic late-inning reliever.

Dillon Tate, who was the centerpiece of the Zack Britton deal in July 2018, stumbled as a starter at Bowie and also moved to the bullpen. He’s shown potential as a future relief piece with the Orioles.

Ryan Mountcastle, this season’s International League Most Valuable Player and a late first-round pick in 2015, continued to show his offensive skills.

Mountcastle’s defensive improvement came after Elias listened to the recommendations of the minor league staff and agreed to move him away from the left side of the infield.

On the major league roster, Duquette gets credit for Anthony Santander, his December 2016 Rule 5 draft pick. Santander was recommended to Duquette by Bowie hitting coach Keith Bodie, who was managing Frederick when Santander played for Lynchburg in the Cleveland organization.

Another trade Duquette made in the makeover of July 2018, the deal that sent Jonathan Schoop to Milwaukee, was panned at first because Luis Ortiz, a former No. 1 pick by Texas, failed miserably in brief trials with the Orioles but now looks much better with the outstanding performance of Jonathan Villar.

Villar, who is certain to pick up some first-place votes in the Most Valuable Oriole voting, has outplayed Schoop since his acquisition, and is under club control for 2020.

Another overlooked Duquette pickup, Renato Nunez, a waiver claim in May 2018, has shown excellent raw power as the Orioles’ designated hitter this season.

John Means was an 11th-round pick by the Orioles in 2014 and has been the team’s most effective starter this season after pitching coach Doug Brocail helped him refine his changeup.

Trey Mancini, the likely MVO this year, was an eighth-round pick in 2013, and Duquette’s under-the-radar acquisitions of relievers Miguel Castro and Paul Fry have helped, too.

After the disaster of 2018 with its franchise-worst 115 losses, it was clear that a change was needed. Duquette and manager Buck Showalter had a dysfunctional relationship, and the current team of Elias and Hyde is a healthier mix.

Elias’ first year has absolutely deepened the talent pool, as was his goal, and the won-loss record will be somewhat better than it was last year.

He should be given credit for wise drafting and communicating well with Hyde. But as the Orioles improve over the next few years, some of the credit may also go to Duquette, another former scout, who’s currently out of baseball.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB




  1. Fareastern89

    September 1, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Rich, how much do you think Peter Angelos’ influence hindered or restricted Duquette in his work — other than the obvious refusal to participate substantially in the international market? Also, Duquette had a reputation as a poor communicator — was that a fair criticism, and did it impede the organization’s success?

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 1, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Fareastern, the Orioles had the ability to spend money, huge sums of money under Duquette. However, as you write, they were unable to substantially participate in the international market.

  2. Baltimore Castaway

    September 1, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Outstanding article Mr. Dubroff. Clearly a lot of good research was involved in the information that you are presenting to us.

    I learned a very long time ago that baseball is a very cruel game to many of those involved in it; from Managers to Coaches to Minor League Players (especially) to Scouts, Minor League Coaches and Staff to Batboys..

    However, the way that Dan Duquette was treated by the Peter Angelos regime was in a word, dreadful… the way that he allowed Showalter and Anderson to back-stab and undermine him was disgraceful.. sadly, this dysfunction that Mr. Angelos fostered ultimately caused a great deal of damage to the entire Orioles organization.

    Too bad he didn’t turn the reigns over to John and Lou two or three years earlier… the Orioles re-build would have been much more intelligent and rapid than what we are witnessing now… But, as we all know in Business, Ego is a a forceful enemy of progress and favorable results..

    Enjoy your Labor Day weekend everyone, I am getting tickets to see the Shorebirds this Friday and Saturday.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 1, 2019 at 11:33 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Castaway.

  3. Orial

    September 1, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Duquette has been somewhat underappreciated being that his hands were extremely tied. His drafts and garbage heap pickups weren’t all that bad. Where the difference will lie is with the freedom that Elias now possesses especially with the International Market. As was just mentioned I wonder how things would have been if the Sons had taken the reigns 5 years ago instead of 1 year ago.

    • Camden Brooks

      September 1, 2019 at 11:29 am

      I’ll be curious how much freedom he’ll be given in 2-3 years to spend money on quality free agents, and to retain homegrown talent that has matured into All-Star material. We can’t build a playoff team without spending some decent cash.

    • Phil770

      September 1, 2019 at 11:30 am

      We seem to forgive all of DDs blunders. He locked us out of the Asian market with his improper contact, have not come close to another Korean or Japanese player. His decision to not give Cruz or Markakis 4 year deals. Other teams did and each of those teams got four excellent years of production. DD spent 4 years giving away our prospects trying g to replace them. Buck and Brady were here before DD, if the communications gap grew, he was a part of the problem.

      • Jim-Considine

        September 1, 2019 at 11:43 am

        Hyun Soo Kim was our first Korean player following the improper contact charge.
        If we held onto Markakis, I think we may have won it all. Losing Cruz was a real waste, but they probably figured with Chris Davis, we had all the home runs we needed. Oy.

        • Jbigle1

          September 1, 2019 at 12:23 pm

          While we never adequately replaced Markakis I think the pair of you are greatly overstating how productive he was in ATL. He posted WAR of 1.4 1.2 .8 and finally 2.6 in his last season of the deal. Cruz was the real loss as he’s continued to mash. Kakis has been largely a decent to slightly below average player in Atlanta.

          • Phil770

            September 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

            You forget how unproductive and costly all of his replacements were. None of his replacements came close to his production in Atlanta.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        September 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm

        Don’t think that anyone is forgiving DD of his blunders–of which were many..

        He gave up a lot to get Andrew Miller, giving away Josh Hader was a disastrous decision and the Gerardo Parra trade turned out poorly.

        I don’t believe that the Markakis and Cruz deals were his decision–neither was the Mother of all Disasters the Chris Davis contract..

        • Phil770

          September 1, 2019 at 1:42 pm

          Of course, every blunder was on PA.

    • ClayDal

      September 1, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      In regards to Dan Duquette. Money wasn’t the issue with Nelson Cruz-they didn’t want to give a 34 year old a 4 year contract. He ended up still being productive but the decision not to go 4 years was defensible. With Nick it was physical issues and again they didn’t want to risk 4 years. The ironic part is that his best year was last year-the 4th year of the contract. Trading Hader netted Bud Norris who won 15 games in 2014, including the division series clincher against Detroit. Hader didn’t pan out in Houston and they traded him to the Brewers where he established himself. As for Parra, he was an All-Star with the Brewers, won 2 Gold Gloves and is quite a popular player in DC now. His 2 months in Baltimore were forgettable. In baseball, as well as life, you make decisions based on the circumstances as they are at the time. In the case of Duquette, some worked out, some didn’t.

  4. Jbigle1

    September 1, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Considering the hand Duquette had to play with he did an alright job. It’s hard to ever really be able to give him a grade because of that though. He only had room in the budget for Davis. That money wasn’t allowed to be spent if not for CD; it’s hard to put a ton of blame on him for that. We obviously could not spend internationally on a serious level so there’s another issue w grading him. He did pretty well in the draft. A few bad picks but that’s going to happen w any GM. Certainly a couple bad trades as well but it’s really tough to give him a final grade.

  5. Ekim

    September 1, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Rich… please note my silence…

  6. Birdman

    September 1, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Just as the current regime is the beneficiary of some of Duquette’s moves ( Santander, Nunez, etc.), its fair to also note that the Orioles competitive success from 2012-2016 under DD was, in large part, the result of moves made by Duquette’s predecessor, Andy MacPhail. MacPhail made the trades that brought Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, JJ Hardy, and Chris Davis to the O’s. And Manny Machado was drafted by MacPhail.

  7. OriolesNumber1Fan

    September 1, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    I blame the Markakis deal on Markakis. He was overpaid during his last three years of his Oriole contract. 12 mm in 2012 and 15 mm in both 2013 & 2014. And he had no problem taking this money. And he was offered a 4 year after the 2mm buyout.
    I remember 4 yrs 40mm offer from Duquette plus the 2 million buyout. I believe there was deferred $$ on this deal because of his neck issue but he left for 4 years 44 mm from Braves.

    • ClayDal

      September 1, 2019 at 3:59 pm

      The Orioles withdrew the 4 year offer after the physical showed the neck issue. The Braves didn’t have an issue with 4 years and Nick grew up in Georgia. He was probably overpaid his last few years with the Orioles, but you could say that about a lot of players

      • Phil770

        September 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm

        Correct. Trembley was with the Braves after the O’s let him go, and he knew Markakis well. The Final DD offer was for 3 years, instead of 4. As for overpaid…a case can be made that virtually every player is overpaid, the system is designed to be underpay players for performance in the early years; free agency is designed to overpay a player. Crazy system with few successes of overpaying, and lots of failures. My original point was that DD was getting a little too much credit for young promising players. The O’s had one of the worst ranked farm systems in baseball for years. However, I am not totally down on DD, I do give him kudos for the fire sale last year; I think we got a lot more potential than we had. And of all the players that were traded at the deadline, only Britton is still with the the team to which he was traded. I was not pleased with Gaussman or Schoop trades – but Dan proved to be right.

        • Jbigle1

          September 2, 2019 at 1:56 am

          The Gausman return looks better this year. With Zimmermann improving to at least have a chance of being a #5 starter. Cumberland, if he can stick behind the plate has a good chance of. Being a ML’er as well. He can hit and has a good approach at the plate. He needs to be protected this offseason though.

          I would assume he will be. But that will require us to carry 4 catchers on the 40 man. Assuming they keep Sisco behind the plate and do not DFA Wynns. But I would imagine he’ll stick.

          I still hate the fact that we included O’day’s salary in the deal though. I would’ve much rather have been able to target one of ATL’s surplus of pitching prospects they had. We obviously got burned by the intl money because we missed out on Gaston/Mesa but the salary dump of O’day had no bearing on that. Don’t know if that was encouraged/required by ownership but I think we sold ourself short there.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        September 2, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        They didn’t withdraw the 4th year they just wouldn’t guarantee it.
        He got 4 yrs guaranteed from the Atlanta where he grew up and left. He should have stayed and showed loyalty to the Orioles after he was over paid on his 6 yr deal. Which at the time was the 2nd largest money contract in Orioles history. The Orioles would never even offered a contract to someone who didn’t live up to the previous one. What the Orioles should have done was offer him the “qualifying offer” like they did with Cruz and at least got a compensation pick.

    • ClayDal

      September 2, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      The offer was for 3 years. There was no 4th year non-guaranteed contract offer. All multi-year contracts are guaranteed. The Braves, the team he followed growing up in Georgia, offered a 4 year contract. As far as loyalty, he signed the original 6 year contract after his third year, putting off free agency until his 9th year. At that time both sides made a commitment to keep Nick here. Whether Nick was overpaid or not, the Braves were willing to pay him 44 million. As for the qualifying offer it was 15.3 million that year. The option the Orioles did not pick up was 17.5 million. Add to the 2 million dollar buyout and the Orioles would have had to pay Nick around the same amount of money if he accepted the qualifying offer. The Orioles didn’t want to pay him 17 million

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        September 13, 2019 at 10:14 pm


  8. willmiranda

    September 2, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    Good point about Villar in the running for Most Valuable Oriole. Mancini, the other candidate mentioned, had a great first half, but has receded while Villar has had a great second half. But there’s a month to go, and it may tell the tale.

  9. geevee3

    September 2, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    I’m not sure why it should come as a surprise to anyone, given the nature of system construction, that after 9 months on the job not all of the players in the Orioles system were selected by the current GM. Am I missing something here, or was this an article that didn’t need to be written.
    I’m not trying to be critical in any general way, I am a big fan of this site, I’m just honestly puzzled that this information was considered noteworthy.

  10. Bancells Moustache

    September 3, 2019 at 11:04 am

    I still believe that Dan Duquette was misused here in Baltimore. If you look at his resume, his strength is in building teams, not maintaining them. It’s a bit like putting Zack Britton in the rotation. It’s not his thing. Looking at the farm system, he clearly left it in better shape than he found it. Duquette’s ultimate sin, however, will always be keeping Manny Machado past the 2017 deadline.

    • ClayDal

      September 3, 2019 at 11:44 am

      I think he would have traded Manny back in 2017, but ownership was still committed to keeping the window open. Remember as late as September 2017, the Orioles were in wild card contention. Then it all went south

      • Baltimore Castaway

        September 3, 2019 at 2:00 pm

        They would have received a far greater haul
        for Manny at that time indeed.

        We had an Owner who refused to accept the reality that the Orioles were not a true contender during that time. They could have also received a lot for Schoop, Gausman and O’Day.

        Ego was a terrible problem for “Old Man Potter”….

    • ClayDal

      September 3, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      The legacy of 14 straight losing seasons. Once the Orioles started winning again, ownership wanted to keep it going as long as possible. Also attendance slipped after the 2014 season. A lot of that of course was the civil unrest in 2015. But even in 2016, a playoff team, there were an awful lot of empty seats in September for the all important Red Sox series Ownership most likely feared that a total rebuild would cause a massive drop in attendance. Luckily for them, the 2018 Orioles made the decision to rebuild a lot easier. Not only did they have their worst record since moving here, their attendance was the lowest in 40 years. Gave the Orioles the freedom to do a total rebuild. As Janis Joplin once said “ freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose”

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