Sources: Duquette favorite, deal could be reached soon

The Orioles search for a new president of baseball operations could be over very soon. Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, who interviewed Friday in Baltimore, is headed back to meet with principal owner Peter Angelos Saturday afternoon and, according to multiple sources, the speculation that Duquette is the favorite to land the job vacated by Andy MacPhail is accurate.

One source said a deal has not been reached, and there is not a contract on the table, although that could change when Duquette  sits down with Angelos. The only other candidate who is believed to have met with the interview committee twice, and have a sitdown with the Orioles principal owner, was Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, who was offered the position –but declined – on Tuesday.

The 53-year-old Duquette — who is currently out of baseball – was the sixth candidate to interview, coming on the heels of Thursday’s meeting with Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock.  Dodgers assistant GM DeJon Watson –who took his name out of contention – Jerry Dipoto (who took the Angels GM job) and Baltimore’s director of player development John Stockstill also interviewed.

Duquette served as farm director for the Montreal Expos from 1987-91 and served as GM after that until ’94, when he was hired by the Red Sox. After being dismissed under Boston’s new ownership in 2002, Duquette opened a sports academy for children in Hinsdale, Mass. He has more than 25 years of experience in baseball, and is the cousin of former Orioles GM Jim Duquette.

Despite being out of baseball for the last few years, the Orioles were impressed with Duquette’s contacts and connections still in the game, and his background in scouting and player development –as well as a heavy presence in Latin America and Asia—are major pluses for a farm system in dire straits. The Orioles scouting and player development system has come under increasing scrutiny and they’ve failed to keep pace in the international market, a key aspect of trying to succeed despite a lower payroll in the American League East.

There are currently no other interviews scheduled and the Orioles –who have been cautiously optimistic that they could reach a decision by Monday – appear to have finally reached the end of a process that took much longer than anyone expected. Duquette, who appears to be seriously interested in the job, also brings a fiery passion for the job and according to a source spoke candidly about what it would take to unset baseball’s two biggest powerhouses in Boston and New York.

The Orioles are currently the only team in Major League Baseball without a GM, and baseball’s free agency period began officially on Thursday, making a speedy –but not haste—hire all the more important.

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian was the first to report that Duquette would be returning to Baltimore on Saturday.

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