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Elias: Orioles will become an attractive place for free agents, but adding players is not currently a priority

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Once the Orioles get up to speed on baseball's data and technological frontier, new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias expects Baltimore will be an attractive place for potential free agents to come play.

Given the team's priorities of building out their field and front office staffs at this week's Winter Meetings, that time might not be now, though. Elias said Monday that the Orioles will monitor the free agent and trade markets, but not exactly be a "fast mover" on that front at this stage in the offseason.

"I think people know that this is a good organization," Elias said. "It's a great place to play, it's a great ballpark to play in, a great town to play in. They're excited about the direction that we're taking the franchise. They know that the information environment for the players is going to improve, the technological environment for the players. So much is going to improve. This is going to be a wonderful place to play. They're excited to talk to us and talk to me, but the reality is we've got a lot going on."

Elias has said his priority has been filling the vacant managerial role and the subsequent required coaching hires, with some attention also played to the empty roles atop the scouting and player development departments. Carryover employees like Tripp Norton and Mike Snyder are taking on added responsibilities to allow Elias to focus on the hires and assistant general manager Sig Mejdal to work toward their technology and data goals more quickly.

So despite their waiver claim of 24-year-old infielder Rio Ruiz from the Atlanta Braves and their prominent role atop Thursday's Rule 5 draft, the opportunities to meaningfully add to the 2019 on-field product will be limited. He acknowledged positions like catcher and shortstop are ones where they’ll look hard at their depth. On a trade market, which would realistically include subtracting from the 2019 club, he said they have to listen to interest that's out there, even if they aren't going to be active sellers.

"We're going to listen and look at anything that advances our goal of broadening and elevating the talent base across the organization, so every front office and every general manger this day and age has their ears open on everything," Elias said. "That's just how it is now. We'll be the same in that regard, and our guys will work the phones and the text messages and the emails and we'll see what happens. But we're going to be very open-minded and very flexible and keep our eye on the ball of elevating the talent base."

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