Orioles notes: Elias on free-agent market; Bleier, Hays healthy for spring training

Even with a new regime in the front office, the Orioles feel they could be in position to find value on a late-developing free-agent market this offseason.

Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Saturday at FanFest that the team is "monitoring everything" with an eye toward some short-term additions.


"We've got some ideas in line for what might make sense for what we're trying to do, for improving the club this year, and also possibly advancing some of our longer-term strategic goals," Elias said. "But I don't know what's going to happen. We'll see what happens, and certainly the group that we have now, or a group close to this group, shows up in spring training, we're going to have what we need to work with in terms of putting together a team and putting together the competition for spots that we want. But we're certainly watching at certain spots for what happens."

Near the end of the Orioles’ season-ticket holders’ Q&A with executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde on Saturday at FanFest, a longtime Orioles fan boiled down their greatest challenge as simply as anyone could.

One of those spots, Elias said, is pitching, and later Saturday, pitching coach Doug Brocail noted how little was settled on that front. At the winter meetings, Elias was frank in saying that part of the team’s free-agent valuation would be in the possible midseason trade market for players they decided to sign.


For that reason and others, he said "it's less likely that we would find ourselves in a multiyear scenario this year."

He also acknowledged that the wait-and-see approach to free agency is one that has worked well for the Orioles before.

"I think it's something that a lot of organizations in our situation in terms of where we are in our competitive cycle can take advantage of," Elias said. "I have no issue with it, and it's nice that we can sort of calmly take our time, surveying various options."

Hays healthy ahead of spring training

Outfielder Austin Hays, 23, who entered 2018 as the team's top prospect but saw his season derailed by shoulder and ankle injuries, said he's in the final stages of his rehabilitation and hoping for a healthy spring training.

"The ankle is feeling real good," Hays said. "The last stage when I went down to Sarasota for about 10 days a week ago was to start incorporating the cutting, planting on the left foot and coming off of it. We started doing that and it feels really good, so the last step would be base running when I get to spring training. But as far as sprinting and everything like that, I'm going all-out and it feels really good. I'm happy with where I am and how the recovery process has gone."

Bleier back throwing

Left-hander Richard Bleier said he's "feeling great" and is getting closer to working off a mound in his rehab from a torn lat muscle last season.

It was the newness of it all that made Orioles FanFest feel so different Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"It's coming along extremely well," Bleier said. "It's definitely been a long process. I'll admit to that. But I feel like I'm past the hump and I'm throwing long toss and about to get off the mound. We're definitely getting there, for sure."

Bleier said the timing of his injury allowed him to begin throwing early in the fall, and then to take a month off before resuming throwing again to prepare for spring training. He said his current rehab schedule puts him on track to be healthy and available on Opening Day.

"I don't see why not at all," Bleier said. "As far as the scheduling goes, the scheduling is for Opening Day, so unless there's any setbacks or anything, which I hope there's not, I think I should be ready."

Around the horn

While major league field coordinator and catching instructor Tim Cossins will take on many of the bench coach duties, both Elias and manager Brandon Hyde said they wanted to fill the staff with as many collaborative and instruction-minded coaches as possible regardless of title. … First baseman Chris Davis said he's had to do "a lot of things different" with his body this offseason, including working to get lighter, and feels good with his swing compared to where it was last year.

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