UPDATE: Bob Nightengale has reported, “barring a sudden change of heart” that Mike Elias will be named the new general manager of the Orioles. Elias currently serves as the assistant GM for the Houston Astros.
If the Orioles take too long to name a manager, I’ll be sure to write a post urging everyone to be patient. Works every time...
With the hot stove season officially under way, the Orioles have yet to make a big signing this offseason. While it’s only November, the Birds are already falling behind on their prize free agent. But they’re not targeting Manny Machado, and Bryce Harper isn’t walking through that door.
The Orioles biggest free agent signing of the year will be the guy that makes that rest of the signings, and we’re still waiting to see how that plays out. Is that a bit of a cop-out? Maybe. But no decision will hold a greater significance than the Orioles choice for president of baseball operations/general manager.
With few, if any, Major League players making their way to Baltimore this offseason, the pursuit of a GM, and eventually a manager, isn’t just the most crucial action for the organization, it’s also the most entertaining storyline for fans. Unless a veteran starter on a one-year deal in late March really gets your juices flowing, this is as hot as the stove is going to get for the Orioles.
Unfortunately for the fans, the Orioles have been surprisingly tight lipped throughout the process. The names of candidates have slowly trickled out, and Jon Meoli breaks them down here.
As Meoli notes, Ben Cherington is the lone candidate to have secured a World Series title as a general manager. If the Orioles are looking for someone with experience, Cherington has to be at the top of their list. At a time where first-time manager selections are more popular than ever, it will be interesting to see if the same logic applies to GMs.
The Orioles can at least take comfort in knowing that their choice likely will not garner the attention or criticism that the New York Mets did. A selection that USA today called “the strangest GM hire in baseball history,” the Mets hiring player agent Bordie van Wagenen set the bar pretty high (or low) for abnormal hires. Unless of course Baltimore hires Scott Boras, but I’m not sure they could afford him.
The Giants hired Farhan Zaidi away from the Dodgers to serve as the GM during their rebuild. While Zaidi is a first time general manager, he will report to San Francisco’s chief executive Larry Baer. Again, the lack of an already established chief executive or president of baseball operations could lead to Baltimore going with a veteran like Cherington.
Meoli also lists Mike Elias, Ned Colletti, Ned Rice, Peter Woodfork, Tyrone Brooks, and Scott Sharp. You can check out his article for a brief background on all of those contenders.
While the selection process has dragged on longer than some may have expected, the only thing that matters is making the correct choice. If the Orioles wait until December, but they pick the right man for the job, that will be a win.
It’s fair to wonder whether the lack of a stable front office cost the Orioles a chance at the Mesa brothers or international pitcher Sandy Gaston, but it likely wasn’t the determining factor. Even if it played a role, having the right man chairing the rebuild will make a larger impact than any of those three prospects could have made.
The Orioles should have someone in place by the winter meetings. The meetings are held in Las Vegas from December 9-13, and they will likely be the first opportunity for the Birds to kick off the rebuild. It’s there that the new executive will find out if the Mark Trumbo has any trade value, or if any clubs have a strong desire for one of the Orioles starting pitchers.
Whoever lands the job will inherit a long list of deficiencies that need improvement. The first high profile decision will be hiring a manager, but as Mark Brown mentioned the other day, he’ll also need to immediately focus on improving the farm system.
When the chairman of the rebuild is finally in place, the Orioles rebuild will be in full swing. Up until now, they’ve just been losing. The prospects acquired at the 2018 trade deadline could pan out, but they won’t be tied to the new boss. Once the new sheriff is in town, every move will be tied to him. But just like the search, the process will require patience.