New Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was the first name Mike Elias heard when the freshly minted executive vice president and general manager began making calls to research for his managerial search, and every subsequent call Elias made circled him back to the Chicago Cubs bench coach.
Then, all it took was getting in a room together for the pair to realize that the fit was real, culminating in Monday's unveiling at Camden Yards that introduced Hyde as the 20th manager in club history.
"It was a pretty easy decision to have him on the candidate list, and he's somebody that is viewed as an up-and-coming star in our business," Elias said. "I'm very happy that we've landed him here.
"I was aware of Mike and [assistant general manager Sig Mejdal] before that, heard their names, [and] I have people that I'm close with in Houston," Hyde said. "I knew some guys that were in St. Louis with them. I had been hearing their names for a while. I thought it was really interesting when they got the job here, what they were going to bring here — hoping they would call. They're obviously unbelievably bright, and have a really nice track record."
Once the Orioles did call, it set them on a path to a union of Elias’ new front office — which has vowed to use modern technology and data-informed decision-making to build a player development machine to match the one the Houston Astros organization he came from — and a manager who touted himself as a relationship-builder, whose background in player development and role as a teacher with the Cubs was evident there. It’s another layer of foundation toward rebuilding the 115-loss Orioles into a sustainable contender.
Hyde interviewed for several managerial jobs this fall, and though he didn't get them, he seemed particularly connected to what the Orioles are building. He noted he wasn’t exactly agitating to leave the role of Joe Maddon’s bench coach on a contending Cubs club, but “to have the opportunity to speak with Mike and have this opportunity here, once that happened, I was really excited, and I'm still excited,” Hyde said.
Hyde, who has been on the Cubs’ major league staff since 2014 after two years in front office player development roles there and nearly a decade coaching and managing in the Marlins’ minor league system, was joined by his wife, Lisa, and children, Aria, Addison and Colton. He expressed gratitude for all those who helped him achieve his first managerial job, nearly tearing up at the mention of his wife and children in the front row.
He was particularly grateful to the Cubs organization, as was Elias, who said the Cubs were "patient and understanding" of the Orioles taking their bench coach this late in the offseason, even as they encouraged him to take the job. Once he met with Hyde, it became clear to Elias why he was so valued there.
"What just stood out throughout the entire process for me, for us, were Brandon's unique qualifications and experiences for this job," Elias said. "He's had a varied career across all different aspects of baseball operations with a ton of experience in player development, but also major league coaching.
"The experiences that he's had as a member of a front office, a member of a minor coaching staff, a minor league manager, a major league coach — a bench coach across two different organizations — and as a player, as a catcher coming up, was just such a deep background, and [he] brought such a wide breadth of perspective to the way he views the game, the way he views the manager’s role, the way he views the relationship between the manager's office and the front office, and certainly the specific mentorships that he benefited from in the Marlins organization and most recently in the Cubs organization, and being such a big part of building the Cubs organization into a world champion and a playoff-caliber team year after year was very attractive to us throughout this entire process."
Hyde's selection ends what has been a second lengthy job search by the Orioles this offseason. Elias was hired in mid-November to take over baseball operations from executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were dismissed Oct. 3, and the process of hiring a manager has consumed Elias' month on the job.
The Orioles reportedly interviewed five other candidates — Kansas City Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol, Seattle Mariners bench coach Manny Acta, Colorado Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond, Arizona Diamondbacks vice president of player development Mike Bell, and Washington Nationals bench coach Chip Hale. Some of those have major league managerial experience, a consideration Elias said was a significant one early but one that Hyde overcame.
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"I think it speaks to how impressed we were with Brandon, the fact that he has not had major league managerial experience, and still beat out many very good candidates that did — especially as I was a little bit attracted to experience because I'm a first-year GM and we have a lot to do around the organization," Elias said. "There was some attraction to me, but he impressed us to such a degree that we were able to move past that, and he has a lot of experience in the dugout as a bench coach, and while he was not the manager, that type of close experience to the manager in different phases of an organization's life cycle, I think he's extremely experienced — about as experienced as you can get for somebody who has not managed."
Having completed the hire, Elias said he will mostly leave the major league coaching staff vacancies to Hyde while turning his attention to other baseball operations vacancies and practices. Hyde said he'd soon begin the process of studying the team's roster, getting in touch with returning players, and preparing for spring training, which is just under two months away.
Hyde said he'll try to build a relationship with the players first before talking baseball, and that his message during the season would be positivity and patience. He said he learned from Maddon and has practiced through his whole career that solid foundations with players allow for difficult conversations to happen and real coaching to occur.
But once he does get to the message of communicating with the players, something Elias said is Hyde’s strong suit, the attraction for both Elias and Hyde is that the message he passes along will be a unified one from the front office.
“We are going to be working towards the same goals, and doing so in a collaborative, open manner where we're communicating constantly,” Elias said. “To me, the connection that I felt personally in dealing with Brandon was very important as well. I'm very excited to have him here today, to have him as part of this team, to have his help in what we're going to be doing here.”
"A lot of Mike and Sig’s job is going to be to get as much talent here as possible, and my job is going to be to develop it in the big leagues," Hyde said.