New Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said on the 105.7 The Fan “Orioles Hot Stove” radio show Thursday that a managerial hire is "first and foremost" on his priority list, along with bringing in analysts and software developers, and that he's "hitting those glaring needs as quickly as possible."
Elias said staff, including new assistant general manager Sig Mejdal and the carryover staff he inherited, have "tapped into our rolodexes" and done background work on "dozens of candidates, really."
"One of the benefits, I think, that I've learned in being the last team to pick a manager is when you talk to your friends around the game, they've already got their manager," Elias said. "They've finished their search, so they don't need to hide their notes. We've been able to have very open conversations on who the best candidates are, and who would be a great fit for us and for the Orioles. We've got a great list. I have pared it down quite a bit. We'll see what happens in terms of process and timing, but I feel like we are well past phase one of this search."
Elias said much of the rest of the Orioles' requirements, from building the rest of the major league coaching staff to setting the minor league coaching staffs, would come from the new manager. If recent Orioles history under Buck Showalter is any indication, managers like to have plenty of control over such things, and Elias said he'll afford that.
Hiring major league coaches, he said, "works best … when it's a collaborative effort" between the upper-level front office and the manager.
"But really, in my view, the spots on the major league staff belong to the manager, frankly," he said.
Elias added that he was cognizant that some top candidates may have taken other jobs and there's a courtesy required in taking employees from other teams at such a late junction in the offseason, but that only adds to the urgency of getting it done quickly so everyone in the league's staffs can be settled as quickly as possible.”
» On the two drafts the Orioles have the first pick in — the December Rule 5 draft and the June amateur draft — Elias said he expects the team to go with talent ceiling and a best-player-available mentality. Teams aren't required to pick in the Rule 5 draft, but Elias said he expected the Orioles would "make use of that opportunity."
» Elias said he's relying on previous staff for decisions like the 40-man roster protections last week and this week's nontender deadline for arbitration-eligible players, which is allowing him to focus on the larger-scale tasks. As for Friday's deadline, Elias said the team has made overtures on settling early for arbitration-eligible players, but movement on that is typically closer to the deadline.
» Asked about some of the minor league players who have stood out to him, with the question invoking the names of left-handers Keegan Akin and Zac Lowther, Elias mentioned DL Hall as a "great pick" and noted the progress of Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer.
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» Elias said he watched right-hander Branden Kline, who had his contract selected last month, as a high school player in Frederick when he was a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals and Elias continued to follow him while with the Houston Astros. "He has great stuff," Elias said.