Digging into GM meetings and other business on Elias’ plate


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The Orioles contingent that traveled to Las Vegas this week for general manager meetings banded together with a dozen agencies representing players of interest to the organization, sentiments expressed as a method of identification potential adjustments.

Make the most of a few days before returning to the B&O warehouse.

Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias was joined by Assistant General Manager/Analytics Sig Mejdal, Senior Director of International Scouting Koby Perez, Assistant General Manager/Baseball Operations Eve Rosenbaum, Director of Professional Scouting Mike Snyder and Director of Baseball Strategy Brendan Fournie.

“Meetings are always an invigorating event, and especially after COVID, I think we’ve kind of learned to appreciate the face-to-face opportunities we have with other executives, with league officials, and then probably most of all, with the officers that are there,” Elias said.

“I think one thing that was a bit unique with those meetings is that due to the lockdown and the late start to the season, there was still a period of calm going on, but that has since been lifted ( yesterday) and it looks like things are already starting to move fast.

A few other teams have already made deals, including the Braves sending starter Jake Odorizzi and cash to the Rangers for left-hander Kolby Allard, and the Pirates acquiring first baseman Ji-Man Choi from the Rays for reliever. of minor league Jack Hartman.

Elias and his group also sat down with a few rival executives, but with less sense of urgency on the spot.

“It’s always nice to do and it’s good to spend time together,” Elias said, “but nowadays business discussions are so easily handled by text and phone that I don’t know if it speeds up the process, but it’s always nice to build relationships in person, which these meetings give you a chance to do.

The Orioles left Vegas still targeting starting pitchers, a backup catcher and a bat that sits in the middle of the drive. Confident that they’ll tick off the items before opening day, but prepared for an accelerated pace.

“I think it’s going to be a very competitive market for gamers,” he said. “I think there are a lot of teams looking to improve. People are happy with the health of the industry and I expect it to be a fairly active and possibly quick free agent market.

“We are obviously very encouraged by the state of our team and the organization under the team that supports it. We can obviously increase and hope to do so, either through free agency or by trading with accomplished major league players, but we have in-house players in almost every place we think is interesting, and I think that gives us some flexibility with which players we go after.

“We have some positional flexibility with our current squad and that creates a scenario where we don’t have a very specific recipe for which positions the players need to come in. We’re going to get some help throwing, but everyone east, and it’s also going to be competitive. And also, I think we have to keep in mind that we’re not going to go from zero miles per hour to 60 miles per hour in one offseason. We need to build the team and build the payroll in a methodical and strategic way, but I’m very encouraged, hopeful and optimistic that we’re going to make meaningful progress in that regard this offseason, and I hope that it will add to our playoff chances and increase our chances of making the playoffs in this tough division.

Limited conversations with other leaders this week have confirmed the high opinion of some prospects who may be blocked or have a harder time fitting into the list. Elias noted on Oct. 5 that he might have to part ways with a few to land a starting pitcher.

“We’ve already shown some interest in major league players from other teams and got names from our organization,” Elias said yesterday.

“I think one thing that’s really encouraging and not surprising is that everyone likes to look at our agricultural system and there’s a lot of opportunity there, and that’s great. Maybe the fact that there’s more depth in our farming system, more high-end talent, or just easier to work with, maybe that makes us a more favorable business partner. So we’re just going to do that, we’re going to compare it to our free agent options, and we’ll see where it leads.

Elias’ plate is stacked with other belongings.

He’s trying to gain depth through waiver requests, recently having six receivers on the 40-player roster before cutting that number to two and adding outfielders Jake Cave and Daz Cameron.

“You never know which one of these guys is going to pop,” Elias said. “We try to attract talent from all angles. Just because we continue to work quite aggressively on the waiver wire doesn’t mean we’re closed to larger free agent acquisitions. We want to do both.

“We had a lot of success on the waiver wire in the rebuild, but we’re going to pick lower on the waivers, and there may be fewer bats to go around, so we have to be judicious on this. But we’re going to continue to look for those moves and strengthen not only the major league roster, but also the Triple-A roster. »

The Orioles declined starter Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option and gave him the $1 million buyout that puts him back in free agency. The time was not right to commit so much financially.

Communication lines are not cut.

“I look forward to keeping in touch with Jordan,” Elias said. “I spoke to him a bit (Thursday). I think he had a great season for us. I think it was what the doctor ordered. I think the signing went as well as we could have hoped. He really helped us. But it’s a big company with a lot of money, and sometimes it just doesn’t fit the date when we have to make those decisions.

“For us, with this contract with this club option, it was the fifth day after the World Series and we were just not ready to bring it back this way at that time. I think we will keep in touch with him, we’ll see how the pitching market evolves. I think he’s going to have a very good experience as a free agent himself, and we’ll keep in touch because I know he liked it here and we loved having it.

Outfielder Yusniel Diaz also dropped from the 40-man roster this week. Previously the Orioles’ top prospect after Manny Machado’s trade to the Dodgers in 2018, Diaz allowed outright waivers and elected free agency rather than accept his outright assignment to Triple-A.

Diaz could find his way back to the organization, but he’s on the market.

“We’ll try to stay engaged with him in free agency,” Elias said. “Resuming our off-season journey, which we’ll probably do before the Rule 5 draft, which we’ll probably do in free agency, we’re trying to budget how many 40-man spots we have. And knowing that Yusniel was going to be a minor league free agent if he wasn’t kept on the roster, it made sense to do it now rather than wait and book a spot too long.

“He went through waivers, so I guess the rest of the league saw him that way. But he’s got a lot of latent talent, he’s still 26 and he’s had so many injuries that I wouldn’t be surprised if he blossomed into his next opportunity, wherever that might be.

The Orioles are gearing up to discuss which players to protect ahead of the Dec. 7 Rule 5 draft, with top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez and shortstop Joey Ortiz making the easier calls.

The list of 40 players must be established by Tuesday.

“Everything is moving very quickly this off-season. We have that deadline approaching. We have a few general meetings on Monday and Tuesday to finalize our decisions in this regard,” Elias said.

“I think when you have a deeper and deeper agricultural system like ours, there is a tendency to make uncomfortable decisions. It’s always uncomfortable. Even when you don’t have an in-depth farm system, there always seem to be some intriguing players who might be at risk in the Rule 5 draft. So, let’s talk about that.

“I think there are some real slam dunks, but there are some guys who maybe aren’t huge names in the public, but with all the information and scouting information that teams are looking at these days- here I could see them getting plucked, so we’re gonna have to be crafty to navigate this.

Six players remain eligible for arbitration – outfielders Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays, shortstop Jorge Mateo and pitchers Dillon Tate and Austin Voth – and Friday is the deadline to bid on contracts. A company that is also at the forefront.

“We have a group of guys who have been in the organization for a while and it’s either their first time officiating or they’re getting deeper into officiating,” Elias said. “And then we have guys who haven’t been in the organization for a while, and if we want to keep them, it would be by arbitration. We’ll just sit down and figure it all out.

“Hopefully we can reach agreements, but the arbitration system is in place for a reason and there’s always that if we’re not able to do that.”

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