Who knew that trading for an executive could prove to be every bit as complex as trading for a player.
To this point, the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have not agreed on compensation for Dan Duquette, but the challenge won’t necessarily disappear any time soon. Even if Paul Beeston remains in place as the Blue Jays’ president and CEO for the 2015 season, as Bob McCown reported Wednesday, Rogers Communications Inc. must find a replacement by the 2016 season.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos has publicly acknowledged that Toronto has interest in hiring Duquette, Baltimore’s top baseball executive, to replace Beeston. By remaining silent on the matter, Duquette is tacitly acknowledging his interest in the Toronto job. And while Angelos says Duquette isn’t going anywhere, he told the Baltimore Sun that he’s willing to listen if Rogers makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
Should the negotiations pick up, Blue Jays ownership could point to precedent and reason that a moderately talented big leaguer represents fair value based on the history of deals involving MLB decision makers.
|Manager/GM||New Team||Old Team||Compensation (Career WAR)||Year|
|John Farrell||Red Sox||Blue Jays||M. Aviles (6.3) for D. Carpenter (1.4)||2012|
|Theo Epstein||Cubs||Red Sox||C. Carpenter (-0.3) and A. Kurcz (0)||2011|
|Andy MacPhail||Cubs||Twins||Hector Trinidad (0)||1994|
But Angelos, who’s known in the game as a tough, determined negotiator, could argue that precedent alone won’t force his hand. If the Blue Jays really want Duquette, Baltimore could reasonably demand a more substantial return, one that would give the Orioles more than enough reason to deal the reigning executive of the year to an American League East rival capable of unseating them atop the division. Executives in baseball have never been more valued, as evidenced by massive deals for the likes of Andrew Friedman and the gradual increase in quality of players exchanged for execs.
Here’s a look at some players whose names could surface if compensation talks pick up:
Kevin Pillar – The Orioles need outfield depth and Pillar has hit at every stop of his minor league career. He can play all three outfield positions and has options remaining, plusses for teams seeking flexibility. On paper it’s a fit, but Pillar’s MLB OPS of .641 wouldn’t wow anyone, so the Orioles would presumably push for more.
Daniel Norris – Obtaining Norris would be a huge coup for the Orioles, but many baseball people say it would be a mistake for the Blue Jays to deal a potential frontline starter for an executive, even considering Duquette’s successes in Baltimore. The hard-throwing left-hander reached the MLB level after starting the season in the Florida State League in 2014 and he enters the 2015 season as Toronto’s top prospect, according to Baseball America. While the Orioles may ask for Norris, the Blue Jays would be considered reckless if they sent their top prospect to Baltimore.
Jeff Hoffman – The teams have discussed Hoffman, a 2014 first round pick, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. The ninth overall selection required Tommy John surgery after an impressive college career at East Carolina, so he won’t pitch in games before the second half of the 2015 season. Yet his success against advanced competition suggests he could become a frontline starter, so parting with him for an executive would be an very rich price to pay.
Dioner Navarro – Now that Navarro’s relegated to a backup role, he’s expendable from Toronto’s standpoint. But the Orioles already have considerable depth behind the plate, with Matt Wieters backed by Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger. Plus, Navarro isn’t exactly an overwhelming return given Baltimore’s current roster. While the Blue Jays could afford the loss, would this be enough to entice Angelos?
Max Pentecost – Pentecost, another 2014 first rounder, is now blocked by the presence of catcher Russell Martin. The Orioles, however, will have an opening behind the plate if Matt Wieters tests free agency a year from now. On paper, there’s a potential fit here, but again, neutral observers in baseball believe dealing any top prospect would be excessive for just about any executive, no matter how talented (and keep in mind that players can’t officially be traded for their first year as professionals).
Many in the industry will privately question the Blue Jays if they part with a top prospect for an executive, but the Orioles have little reason to accept a marginal player for the sake of a division rival.
Add it up and there’s no clear fit. Historical precedent aside, the Blue Jays and Orioles are showing that finding fair middle ground is much easier in theory than it is in practice.