The Orioles will retain manager Brandon Hyde for at least the 2022 season, reports Dan Connolly of The Athletic. The 2021 season marked the final guaranteed contract on his original three-year deal to manager the O’s, but Connolly reports that the Orioles and Hyde quietly agreed to an extension last offseason that runs through at least the 2022 season.
There’d been at least some speculation about Hyde’s job status, given his original contract was set to expire. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko wrote recently, however, that the “expectation” was for Hyde to return in 2022, and it appears that will indeed be the case.
Hyde’s first three seasons at the helm haven’t been punctuated by many victories. The Orioles are just 127-246 since he was hired. Of course, there’s little sense in judging a manager on wins and losses when it’s clear that the front office isn’t making much of an effort to put a winning product on the field. The Orioles set out on the early stages a rebuild in the final few months of former general manager Dan Duquette’s tenure, trading Manny Machado, Zack Britton and others in the summer of 2018. Duquette was dismissed not long after, and ownership tabbed Astros assistant general manager Mike Elias as his replacement.
Elias hired Hyde as a successor to former manager Buck Showalter, but he’s gone on to continue that rebuilding effort that was set in motion by Duquette & Co. The most notable moves under Elias’ watch have been trades of some of the few remaining veterans on the roster — Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Alex Cobb among them. The only free agents the Orioles have signed to Major League deals under the current regime are Freddy Galvis, Jose Iglesias, Nate Karns and Maikel Franco (in addition to some minor league deals for veterans like Matt Harvey, Wade LeBlanc, Tommy Milone and Felix Hernandez). Both Galvis and Iglesias were traded before their contracts expired. (Karns and Franco surely would have been as well, had those signings panned out as hoped.)
Given that Elias inherited a depleted farm and proceeded to strip down an already threadbare MLB roster, it’s not a surprise that Hyde doesn’t have much to show as far as wins and losses go. By all accounts, however, he’s been a steadying presence amid persistent roster turnover, and it’s certainly hard to ignore the manner in which some young players have begun to blossom under his watch and the watch of his coaching staff.
Cedric Mullins is in the midst of a breakout season and now looks like a possible cornerstone piece. Austin Hays had a productive August and has enjoyed a massive month of September thus far. Ryan Mountcastle recently swatted his 30th homer and could get some down-the-ballot Rookie of the Year votes, even if he’s not a favorite to actually win the award. John Means has broken out as a rock-solid starter to lead an otherwise inexperienced and struggling pitching staff. None of those successes can be pinned upon the manager/coaching staff alone — player development is an organization-wide effort — but it’s Hyde and his lieutenants who are working most directly with that blossoming young talent on a day-to-day basis.
Looking ahead, it seems unlikely that the 2022 season will be a turning point in terms of a return to contention. The Orioles aren’t expected to spend heavily in free agency this winter, and while they have several intriguing young players — and more on the very near horizon — the AL East is a stacked division. In all likelihood, the Orioles won’t be aiming to contend, in earnest, until 2023 at the earliest.
Still, it’s a vote of confidence in Hyde that he’s being entrusted with another key developmental season in 2022, when top-ranked MLB prospect Adley Rutschman is expected to debut along with other ballyhooed youngsters, including top-ranked pitchers DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez. Time will tell whether the O’s decide he’s the right person to helm the ship as the rebuild draws to an actual close, but the new contract is ostensibly a step in that direction.