Brandon Hyde will be the 20th manager in Orioles history, the club announced Friday, solidifying the selection that was first reported Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings but was deemed premature by executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias as it beamed from the television screen in his Las Vegas hotel suite.
Hyde, who was hired away from the Chicago Cubs after spending 2018 as their bench coach and five years on their major league coaching staff, was selected from a group of six candidates that included Colorado Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond, Washington Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, Arizona Diamondbacks vice president of player development Mike Bell, Kansas City Royals quality control/catching coach Pedro Grifol and Seattle Mariners bench coach Manny Acta.
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” Elias said in a statement. “Brandon’s deep background in player development and major league coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a world champion [in 2016], has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”
Elias spoke glowingly of the managerial interview process during his media sessions at the winter meetings, but said little about the specifics of who was involved or who was his selection at the time, citing the need to complete the hire.
The idea that they were at the winter meetings without a manager in place to begin with was unique, but mostly a byproduct of the fact — even though executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were dismissed on Oct. 3 — the hiring of Elias wasn’t formally announced until Nov. 16. Four weeks later, Hyde’s selection was solidified.
At a time when players are starting to ramp up what they’re doing to prepare for the season, having a manager in place and someone to begin communicating the club’s goals is important. Elias said he’d been waiting until a manager was in place to reach out to players himself, but the delay is less important than the outcome to the players.
“I think any process you want to get right,” outfielder/designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. “So in this case, if it took a little bit longer and they got the right guy, then I think everyone comes out a winner.”
Now that it’s set, so too is the group that will lead the Orioles into its new era beginning with the 2019 season.
Elias, in his first season leading the Orioles after he was selected last month, said this week that he views the manager as an extension of the front office, in that he wants an open dialogue and rapport with him, as is customary in the way modern baseball operations are set up.
But just because Hyde has experience in a Cubs organization that does a good job of melding the baseball side with the data side, that doesn't mean he'll be a spreadsheet manager who takes his cues from upstairs.
The Orioles were also attracted to Hyde’s player development background — he spent 2013 as the Cubs director of player development, and before he was on the then-Florida Marlins’ major league staff from 2010 to 2011, he spent five years as a minor league manager.
A former Chicago White Sox minor leaguer who caught at Long Beach State before signing as an undrafted free agent, the 45-year-old Hyde takes over a major league team that was stripped of its major assets last summer en route to a club-record 115-loss season. His roster features far more players who are trying to establish themselves at the major league level than those who have proven track records of performance.
He'll be the daily face of a rebuilding team, one where winning at the major league level will, for the time being, be secondary to building an organizational infrastructure and player development system that can sustainably build championship contenders.
Trumbo said he’s been on teams in this position before, where a different set of expectations can more easily allow someone in Hyde’s position to help the young Orioles develop into established major leaguers.
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“You want to see improvement on the field, more than anything,” Trumbo said. “The wins and losses, you do the best you can, and you obviously want to go out there and win as many as you can, but through this process, you're kind of working toward something a few years down the line — or at least that's what I read. So, you want to see the development, especially for the younger players, ironing out some of the things that might be weaknesses now that could become strengths later on.”
Longtime Orioles fan Julie Saxenmeyer, 43, of Cockeysville, said she isn’t too familiar with Hyde yet, but is pleased with the kind of resume he brings.
"I can’t say I’ve formed an opinion yet but from what I’ve read, it seems like a good hire,” she said. “I like that he has a background in player development. I’m sure he knows this couldn’t be a tougher first gig. I hope Mike Elias and the Angelos brothers give him a very long leash and measure success by more than just wins and losses. No one expects this team to win in 2019 or even 2020. If the team makes incremental progress year over year in the short term, especially considering this division, I’ll be satisfied."
Just as Elias and assistant general manager Sig Mejdal come from a Houston Astros organization that did just that and were rewarded with championship rings, so, too, does Hyde, whose year in charge of the Cubs' farm, right as they tore things down, was seen as pivotal to the progress of many who are now counted among Chicago’s top stars.
His only real connection to anyone on the Orioles’ roster, however, is to right-hander Andrew Cashner, who played for Hyde in the Arizona Fall League in 2009. Reliever Pedro Araujo was in the Cubs’ Dominican Republic operation as a teenager when Hyde ran their farm system.
Hyde will be introduced at Camden Yards on Monday at noon.
Baltimore Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.