10:43PM: A league spokesperson released a statement to media (including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com) in regards to the Daily News story, saying “Major League Baseball is completely comfortable with the Orioles’ coaching designations for the 2020 season, which are not only consistent with the terms of the pension plan but were approved in advance by MLB and shared prior to the start of the season with representatives from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The suggestion that there is an ongoing investigation that could result in discipline is simply false.”
9:32PM: The MLB Players Association is currently investigating a complaint involving Orioles general manager and executive vice-president Mike Elias and pitching director Chris Holt, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. The matter has to do with Holt’s inclusion on a list of Orioles coaches who qualify for the pension plan between the union and the league.
Teams are permitted to place four coaches per year on the pension plan, “which includes lucrative medical benefits and life insurance,” as well as a players’ licensing check worth somewhere between $40K-$60K. Madden says only full-time, uniformed coaches are eligible for inclusion, however, and Holt didn’t meet this criteria as the team’s pitching director.
Holt spent much of the 2020 season working at the Orioles’ alternate training site, as Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun notes that the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the team’s original plan for Holt’s role — a normal season would have seen Holt work throughout the organization with both big league and minor league pitchers. The other three Baltimore coaches listed (third base coach Jose Flores, hitting coach Don Long, and field coordinator/catching instructor Tim Cossins) spent the season working with the Major League team.
Elias is involved in the matter since, as the Orioles’ GM, he was responsible for naming the four coaches to the pension plan. The MLBPA’s pension committee is reviewing the complaint, and it is yet unclear what type of punishment could be levied. At worst, Elias could face a charge of pension fraud, a lawyer with experience of the MLBPA pension plan tells Madden, if it is ruled that Elias included Holt on the four-coach list despite knowing Holt wasn’t eligible.
Holt and Elias previously worked together in the Astros organization when Elias was Houston’s assistant GM, and Holt was one of Elias’ earliest hires after becoming Baltimore’s general manager following the 2018 season. Holt worked as the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator in 2019 before being promoted to his current role, and there has been speculation that Holt could become the team’s pitching coach for 2021.