Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette were a shotgun marriage. Now, it’s a long-term deal.
Showalter arrived in Baltimore in Aug. 2010, Duquette 15 months later, and on Thursday, the Orioles formally announced they’d be together until 2018.
Both received contract extensions. Showalter’s is for five years, Duquette for four.
“When you have people like Dan and Buck with their track records, it became immediately apparent that these are the kinds of professionals you want to keep in your organization,” Louis Angelos, son of Orioles owner Peter Angelos said.
“I’m hoping this draws a conclusion on the 2012 season,” Showalter said.
“I’m really looking forward to having the focus be back on our players and the fans. You’re always uncomfortable to have this focus.”
Last year, the Orioles pulled off their first winning season in 14 years and won the Wild Card game against Texas before falling to the Yankees in five games.
After the Orioles lost the fifth game, Angelos said he would consider extensions for both men, but the length was a surprise.
“There was never really much concern. You can start with a standard three-year deal, but then it becomes, let’s go further than that. Let’s make this about building a sustained, winning, competitive team,” Louis Angelos said.
When Duquette was hired, he had been out of baseball for nearly a decade. The Boston Red Sox fired him in 2002, and he was eager to return.
“I was very grateful for the opportunity. I missed baseball and I was glad to be back, and I appreciated the Angelos’ gave to me and the opportunity they gave to me to contribute to the team,” a clearly emotional Duquette said.
The press conference was attended by one current player, Nick Markakis, who wore workout clothes.
“To land both those guys for that length of time, that doesn’t happen very often,” Markakis said.
“When you have a revolving door of managers and general managers, you’ve got to adapt to everybody’s different style.”
Showalter and Duquette’s contracts expire when Adam Jones’ does. Jones signed a long-term extension last May, but not before he walked into the manager’s office and was given the assurance that Showalter wanted to be here, too.
Duquette’s first contract was for three years. If he completes it, he’ll be the longest serving general manager since Roland Hemond, who was in the job for eight years, ending in 1995.
Showalter‘s contract was due to expire at the end the 2013 season, and though he said it was never an issue, it will make him the second longest tenured manager in team history, behind only Earl Weaver.
“I’m looking so forward to when we leave this room, the focus getting back to our players,” Showalter said.
“I hope it’s part of eliminating some of the challenges we’ve had in the past. I think that’s what Mr. Angelos and his family had in mind. We can move on to more important things.”
Duquette addressed the perception that the team hadn’t been active enough this off-season.
“We have had umpteen trade proposals from teams that like our young players,” Duquette said.
“Our young players are very valuable, but we like our young players. l like this ballclub. I like the pitching staff. I like the stability we have in our pitching staff, starting with our bullpen, which was a strength of the team, and they’re all coming back.”
Duquette said he spoke with a number of teams.
“We had some opportunities to trade for middle of the lineup bats, but we would have had to trade some darn good pitching to do that, and I didn’t think it was the right thing,” he said.
Louis Angelos revealed the New York Mets offered R.A. Dickey to the Orioles, but they wanted Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman.
Duquette said the team is still looking to sign additional players between now and the start of spring training on Feb. 12. One who’s still unsigned is Joe Saunders.
“Joe Saunders did a nice job for us. He did a really good job and provided leadership for our team in the playoffs when we needed it. If some of our young pitchers come along like I hope they come along, we’re going to have more starters than we have spots for, but having said that, I’d like to sign another veteran pitcher,” Duquette said.
With the press conference over, Showalter headed to the clubhouse and resume the job he’ll now hold for the next six years.
“When we get to spring training, I’ll be right back to being the same grumpy old guy I guess I am,” he said.