Since becoming the Orioles' executive vice president and general manager nearly two years ago, Mike Elias has worked not only to restructure the team’s player roster, but also the baseball operations department behind it.
Elias said this week he hopes that continues this offseason, even after the Orioles laid off or furloughed nearly 50 staff members from various departments last month in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“From a baseball-operations staffing standpoint, there’s always work to be done there, and this is definitely an unusual period of time and hiring climate,” Elias said. "But we do have needs, and we’ll look to fill those as we get through the winter. I remain very hopeful, and we’re making every effort to keep our great baseball operations staff we’ve put together here over the last year and change intact as best we can.
“We’re taking everything day to day and week to week in this industry, but we’re really making our best efforts to keep everyone online and busy. They did a great job with the instructional league and the alternate site and just supporting the major league team all season.”
Elias and his staff have already started piecing together the club’s 2021 roster, removing several players from the 40-man roster to open space for possible additions, as well as prospects the Orioles will need to protect from the Rule 5 draft. The league’s general manager meetings would traditionally be next week, but the pandemic has forced the league to hold them and the winter meetings virtually. Elias said he expects he and the league’s other executives to “try to simulate that level of conversation next week despite the remote work circumstances,” adding those efforts are already underway.
“With the World Series having ended and our instructional league in Sarasota having wrapped, our organization and our front office are kind of fully focused on typical offseason business as might occur, despite the very atypical circumstances we’re dealing with this year, still in the midst of the pandemic and all the uncertainty that has provided our industry,” Elias said.
That uncertainty will likely constrict a free-agent market that has already slowed in recent years. Elias expects that to continue to some extent, even beyond a rebuilding Orioles organization that wasn’t expected to be a big spender regardless.
“Seems like this is the most uncertain free-agent market,” Elias said. "I don’t think anyone knows how it’s going to go.
“Our revenue picture as an industry is so uncertain next year, and that’s a big factor, but also, teams want to win, and there are good players out there, and eventually, this crisis is going to pass, hopefully sooner than later. I think teams are going to compete for players.”
Santander misses out on Gold Glove
Anthony Santander, the Orioles' lone finalist for a major award this season after Ryan Mountcastle wasn’t in the top three of Rookie of the Year voting, lost out on the American League’s Gold Glove for right fielders to the Texas Rangers' Joey Gallo. The New York Yankees' Clint Frazier was the other finalist.
Santander was the 2020 Most Valuable Oriole despite a right oblique strain limiting him to 37 games. At the time of the injury, he was among the AL leaders in extra-base hits, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage and home runs. He was also strong defensively. In 303⅓ innings, his eight defensive runs saved ranked second among AL right fielders, trailing only Gallo, who had 12 in 456⅔ innings. Frazier was tied for third in the league with four, putting up that figure in 216 innings in right field.
$1.2 million in revenue from Ripken auction
A collection of game-used memorabilia that Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. auctioned off last month resulted in $1.2 million, with a portion benefiting the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
The highest-selling items from Ripken’s collection, sold through Goldin Auctions, were the jersey he wore for Baltimore on Sept. 19, 1998, for his 2,632nd consecutive game, the final contest of his record streak ($184,500); the bat he used in the first inning of his 2,131st straight game, the one that surpassed Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record ($124,230); and the jersey he wore for his major league debut ($123,000).
Other features of the auction lot were Ripken’s first Little League uniform and memorabilia from The Streak, his 3,000th hit, 400th home run, retirement and the Orioles' 1983 World Series title.
“Over the last year I have had the chance to explore my collection and it amazed me how many unique items I was able to compile throughout my career,” Ripken said in a statement announcing the auction. “With the celebration of the 25th anniversary of 2131 still fresh in my mind, I thought this would be a great time to share some of them with other collectors and lovers of baseball. It will also raise funds for our work with kids under the foundation named for my Dad.”