Asked directly Wednesday whether Brandon Hyde was under contract as the Orioles manager for the 2022 season, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias declined to get into contractual specifics but praised Hyde’s job through his two-plus seasons.
“I will say that I hired Brandon,” Elias said. “We hand-picked him for this job because of his skills, because of the relationship that we felt, because of his references, because of his broad perspective across baseball operations from the dugout all the way to the Gulf Coast League and everything in between. He is a partner with us in this multiyear project. We all knew this would be a multiyear project. We knew there were going to be some rough years. He is not being judged on where we are in the standings in 2021.”
That location is the bottom of the American League East, with a team on an 18-game road losing streak that coincided with a 14-game skid overall. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks have a worse record this year, and only the Detroit Tigers have won fewer games in the three seasons Hyde has been the Orioles manager.
But he is managing a team that is going through a painful rebuild process, something Elias is admittedly a “broken record” about. Candidly, Elias said this endeavor won’t go smoothly at all points. Not everything that goes wrong for the major league club will be on Hyde’s shoulders.
“I wish that there was a quicker and surer and easier option in this for the Baltimore Orioles to get back to the playoffs, especially in our division, but I know that there isn’t,” Elias said. “I’m going to continue to do what is right and necessary and disciplined to get us there. It’s not going to go perfectly. I’m going to make some bad decisions. We’re going to have some bad luck. We’re going to have some good luck. We’re going to have some good decisions, and we want our approach to be sound so that over time with all these little decisions we make over and over and all the things that happen, we come ahead, and we’re moving along there.”
Because of many of those decisions, Hyde has often been forced to rely on players with minimal major league experience or castoffs from other organizations. Most of the players making over the league minimum salary Hyde has managed have eventually been traded away.
That’s among the reasons he said it was understandable that Elias wasn’t making judgments based on the team’s record this year.
“Mike is very transparent with me about what our expectations are and where we are, not only in our division but around the league,” Hyde said. “It’s going to take some time. We’re going to need to draft high. We’re going to need to develop impact players. And right now, from a salary standpoint for our team is a lot less than everybody else, and we understand that. We need to continue to get better in the minor leagues and develop some impact players to be able to compete at this level.”
Regardless of Hyde’s contractual status, Elias spoke positively about his potential to remain with the organization once the rebuild begins to bear fruit. The club’s top three prospects are only a couple of steps away at Double-A, though Elias revealed Wednesday that left-hander DL Hall would be shelved for several weeks with elbow tendinitis.
“[Hyde] and his staff have a lot of interaction with a lot of corners of our baseball operations department as we filled out this entire organization,” Elias said. “All of that, I couldn’t be happier with. I’m looking forward to getting back to the playoffs, and hopefully, all of us are still here together for that.”
Hyde has been through this process before. He worked in the Chicago Cubs front office in the early stages of their rebuild before joining their coaching staff not long before the team began having success at the major league level, culminating in an elusive World Series title in 2016.
That experience, he said, does little to ease the pain of losing he’s dealing with now. He’ll often, as he put it, “commiserate” with his coaching staff after and sometimes even before games. But he also knows that these paths can be beneficial.
“You just try to think big picture as much as you possibly can, even though sometimes in the moment it’s hard to go through,” Hyde said. “You know this is not going to be easy. We knew this was going to take a while, and it’s going to take a while. But our minor league system is continuing to get better and some of our impact players are, hopefully, inching closer to the big leagues. That’s just what it’s going to take.”
Elias echoed the point in longevity. Like Hyde, his background involved in a rebuild — this one with the Houston Astros — led him to Baltimore.
“It just takes time in baseball,” Elias said. “I’m very focused on doing it. I don’t think that anyone else could be approaching this a different way that is viable, that is realistic, that would be successful, so I’m going to keep working on it. I watch the games every night and I feel the same frustrations that the fans do, but I want them to know that this ultimately will bring us to a very good spot.”