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How Dan Duquette Ruined The Orioles

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

How Dan Duquette Ruined The Orioles

Dan Duquette’s time in Baltimore had some bright moments. They won the AL East in 2014 and went on to beat the Tigers in the Division Series. They also made the postseason in 2012 and 2016 as a wildcard entrant. Duquette did not fare terribly in the draft either. He got two potential 2022 Cy Young candidates in Kevin Gausman and Josh Hader in the same draft. The issue is neither of them still play for the Orioles. The Orioles received around 200 innings from Bud Norris, who they traded Hader for in 2013. They got Bruce Zimmermann for Gausman. The team has benefitted to the tune of 1.2 WAR from Norris and Zimmermann combined, Hader has been worth 1.5 WAR, according to Baseball Reference… in 17.2 INNINGS for Milwaukee this year. Don’t even ask about Gausman, who appears well on his way to justifying his new contract.

Some defend Duquette. They whine about issues with ownership. They point to how much of the current roster is constructed of players Duquette drafted. Not a great argument considering the team has lost over 100 games in three of the last four seasons. The only reason that isn’t four of four is the pandemic shortened 2020. How many of the Orioles current players are contributors on a team with legitimate title aspirations? That is tough to say, but I’m not sure there are many. That’s not to say the team isn’t getting better, because it is. Adley Rutchsman’s arrival has provided some hope in Baltimore for the first time in ages. The bullpen looks formidable as well. Yet, they sit at 23-33 on the season. The long climb back to respectability is almost done, but let’s look at the man who sank them to such desolate depths.

The Trades

I’ve already mentioned two trades Duquette made that have, to put it lightly, not panned out for the team. Unfortunately, the list goes on. First up: Jake Arrieta.

Jake Arrieta

This one hurts. Arrieta was a highly touted prospect before making his debut with the Orioles in 2010. He struggled with injuries and inconsistency during his time in Baltimore. Duquette gave up on him in 2013 during his age-27 season, trading him and reliever Pedro Strop for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman. The hope was that Feldman would provide stability to the rotation and help with a postseason push. He was serviceable, but they fell short of the playoffs and he moved on to Houston the next season. The last I heard of Clevenger he was suspended by the Mariners for “offensive” tweets. Arrieta would only go on to win a Cy Young with Chicago in 2015 as well as record two other top-10 finishes for the award. Perhaps the Orioles go further in their postseason appearances in 2014 and 2016 with an ace like Arrieta on the team.

Zach Davies

In 2015 Duquette sent Zach Davies to the Brewers for Gerardo Parra. Yet again, he was fleeced by Milwaukee as Parra put up a meager .625 OPS in 55 games for Baltimore. Davies has been about league-average in his career, sporting a 4.15 lifetime ERA, but the pitching-starved Orioles would certainly take that.

Manny Machado

Manny Machado is having an MVP-caliber season for the Padres this year. Of the five players he was traded for, only two have made the majors with Baltimore. Rylan Bannon and Dean Kremer (the two who’ve made it) have combined for -0.6 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. Machado might have a bust in Cooperstown one day. Call this one a wash?

Jonathan Schoop

Duquette traded Jonathan Schoop (a fan favorite) coming off a year where he finished twelfth in MVP voting for Jonathan Villar and two prospects. Villar was good in Baltimore but he left for nothing after 2019. The two prospects never amounted to anything. Schoop is having a down year offensively, but he’s been above league average the past three seasons. At this point, I’d take anyone over Roughned Odor and his terrible defense anyway.

The Signings

Dan Duquette didn’t always fail in his trades. His acquisitions of Mark Trumbo and Andrew Miller (arguably) are examples of when deals went in his favor. On the whole, the bad outweighs the good. Now, let’s dive into some of his signings that contributed to the Orioles downfall.

Chris Davis

The most signing on the list is Chris Davis’ mammoth $161 million contract that haunts the club to this day. Although this one might not be entirely Duquette’s fault, he can’t be absolved of blame because he was the Orioles GM. This contract is completely indefensible. It’s like Duquette looked at Ryan Howard’s infamous deal with the Phillies and though, “Hey, maybe I should sign a defensively limited and aging slugger to and giant deal also.”

Ubaldo Jimenez

Oh, Ubaldo. His most memorable moment in Baltimore was allowing a walk-off home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the 2016 Wildcard game. In four seasons with the Orioles Jimenez wound up being worth 0.1 WAR according to Baseball Reference. Does that justify his four year $50 million contract to you?

Alex Cobb

A four year $57 million contract resulted in 217 innings and 1.5 WAR over three seasons. His tenure with the Orioles ended in 2021 when he was traded to the Angels for Jahmai Jones.

While the Orioles tremendous lack of success in recent years can’t be entirely blamed on Duquette, he played a major role. In any event, a team with Manny Machado, Josh Hader, and Kevin Gausman would certainly be more competitive than the current iteration of the Orioles. Add in some solid free agents instead of the bloated deals Duquette handed out to the players I mentioned above and you might have yourself a quality roster.

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