A month after dismissing executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter following the worst season in franchise history, the Orioles' search for a new individual to lead their baseball operations department continues.
One of three organizations looking to fill that position this offseason, the Orioles see the pace of their pursuit — and scarcity of public information about it — as more similar to the San Francisco Giants' ongoing search than the one that led the New York Mets to hire agent Brodie Van Wagenen.
While the Giants have most of an infrastructure in place, the Orioles are trying to build an organization from almost scratch after over a dozen baseball operations staffers were also let go ahead of their contracts expiring Wednesday.
As such, the interviews the Orioles have conducted, with seven finished and more still to come, according to an industry source, have been just as much about learning about the candidates as learning the modernizing practices of the teams the Orioles hope to model themselves after.
The extended conversations with those candidates began around a week after the dismissals of Duquette and Showalter to allow for some candidates' current teams to finish their postseason runs and to allow the Orioles to get permission to interview them, according to the source. Those discussions have been conducted by executive vice president John Angelos and ownership representative Louis Angelos, according to the source. Those two have taken on a significant role as their father, managing partner Peter Angelos, has tended to health matters.
In the interim, director of player development Brian Graham is serving as the Orioles interim general manager controlling day-to-day operations, while vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson and amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich are also still in place. With ownership's guidance, that group is navigating the early-offseason roster moves.
But that's all being done in the backdrop of the search for a new baseball operations leader who will be tasked with modernizing every aspect of the Orioles' organization. When Manny Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Duquette said the team had a long list of areas to improve: "technology, international scouting, facilities, the draft, strengthening our analytics, investing in international scouting, investing in more front office staff to be more in line with our competitors, expanding our nutrition and wellness resources at every level of the organization."
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Many of those goals still need to be addressed, and in the interview process for Duquette’s successor, the Orioles are hearing from candidates on all those things, the source said. In doing so, they're not only learning about what the candidate would bring to Baltimore, but how other organizations addressed those needs, what worked and didn't work for those clubs, and why some of baseball’s best organizations are structured the way they are.
For example, the source said the Orioles are learning about organizations that have invested heavily in analytics as opposed to traditional scouting; those that have integrated technology seamlessly into their player development system; and those that have the financial clout to invest heavily in all facets and see it all work in harmony.
The list of candidates has largely been kept quiet, though former Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, former Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, Oakland Athletics assistant general manager Dan Kantrovitz and Houston Astros assistant general manager Mike Elias are among those who have been or will be contacted, according to the source. But it’s unclear whether some candidates the Orioles have contacted remain in the process.
The source said the team doesn’t currently plan to interview Major League Baseball executive Kim Ng, though there's still a chance for her to be included. The fact that the team hasn't moved on to the second phase of the process means some current executives from the World Series teams might still be brought in for interviews. The Red Sox and Dodgers are led by Dave Dombrowski and Andrew Friedman, respectively, but the opportunity for advancement could entice any number of candidates below them.
The Red Sox have four senior vice presidents below Dombrowski on the baseball side: Allard Baird, Eddie Romero, Brian O'Halloran and former Orioles general manager Frank Wren. The Red Sox also have vice president of player development Ben Crockett. With the Dodgers, general manager Farhan Zaidi oversees a sizable staff under Friedman, with senior vice president Josh Byrnes the most notable because of his general manager experience.
Depending on the Orioles' eventual hire, the title of their new baseball operations leader has not yet been determined. But the Orioles are a little more than three weeks into a process the source said might take five or six weeks, including a likely break as some candidates take part in next week's MLB general manager meetings. So, the source said it’s possible the Orioles have a new leader in place by mid-November.
Note: The Orioles announced Friday that they re-signed left-handed reliever Sean Gilmartin to a minor league contract for 2019. Gilmartin, 28, had a 3.00 ERA in 12 appearances with the Orioles this season.