Orioles executive VP and general manager Mike Elias met with reporters yesterday for the traditional end-of-season media session, discussing both the 2020 season and what might be in store for next year. Some notable items, as per MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli…
- In general terms, Elias felt the season had “enough positive things where we can feel good that this year was far from wasted and that there was progress made in our ultimate goals.” With a 24-35 record entering today’s finale, the Orioles’ .407 winning percentage at least represents an improvement over the .312 mark posted by the team over the 2018-19 seasons (101-223). A few more wins and some development progress still left Elias less than satisfied, as “it’s very difficult for me to label any season a success where we have a losing record and don’t make the playoffs.”
- This doesn’t mean the Orioles’ rebuild process is getting a fast-forward, however, as Elias indicated that the O’s will continue to limit spending since their financial picture is clouded by the pandemic. “We can’t estimate our revenue, our attendance,” Elias said. “We can’t estimate various things that we look at when we look at a player or roster budget, so it’s so day-to-day.”
- Baltimore doesn’t have much in the way of long-term salary commitments anyway, with the very notable exception of Chris Davis. The struggling first baseman had another rough season, and is still owed $46MM before the end of the 2022 season. There has been speculation that the Orioles could simply release Davis and eat that remaining salary in order to free up a roster spot and playing time for a younger player, yet Elias said the club isn’t planning to move on from Davis: “We’re taking it as it comes, but he is under contract with this team, there’s a lot that goes into that and we do not have plans to alter that fact.”
- In terms of offseason targets, Elias noted that the O’s will continue to look for infield help, as it was an area of concern when Elias joined the organization following the 2018 season. “I think that deficit of infielders was mainly owing to the lack of international pipeline, because that’s where a lot of major league infielders are coming from these days….We’ve tried to attack it through the last couple of drafts and also a couple of trades, and we’ve gotten the international free agent spigot flowing now, so hopefully all of that will long-term fortify our infield depth,” Elias said. “But, it’s like pitching, one of those areas where everyone is always looking for more.”
- Retaining Jose Iglesias would be an obvious way to shore up the 2021 infield, though Elias didn’t address Iglesias’ contract option besides saying the veteran infielder “really helped us and we love having him.” Despite a quad injury that led to a brief injured list trip and more DH time than was expected for the longtime shortstop, Iglesias unexpectedly delivered a monster year at the plate, hitting .373/.400/.556 over 150 plate appearances. The O’s signed Iglesias to a one-year contract last winter that contained a $3.5MM club option for 2021 with a $500K buyout, and one would think Iglesias has done enough to get that option exercised.
- And, in the best news of all, Elias believes Trey Mancini will be healthy and ready to return for Spring Training. Mancini had a malignant tumor removed from his colon last spring and is now through with chemotherapy treatment. “He just went through a lot and he’s going to have to get his strength and his baseball activities back and all that, and there’s still going to be some work and a process going into that this winter,” Elias said. “But he’s such a strong, dedicated, mentally strong kid and person that we have nothing but confidence that he can do it this offseason and have a great year next year.“