The title handed to the head of the Orioles’ baseball operations department likely will be tailored to fit Mike Elias.
No one associated with the Orioles has confirmed a late-night tweet from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the club will hire Elias and finally conclude its extensive and methodical search for a replacement for executive vice president Dan Duquette, whose contract wasn’t renewed following a 115-loss season.
Nightengale wrote that Elias will become the new GM “barring a sudden change of heart.” Meanwhile, a few high-ranking officials in the organization hadn’t been informed yesterday of a new hire.
The search, headed by John and Louis Angelos, has been conducted in heavy secrecy to avoid leaks to the media. Elias was one of the known candidates, however, the list also including former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, former Orioles executive and current Phillies assistant Ned Rice, Royals assistant Scott Sharp, Major League Baseball senior vice president of baseball operations Peter Woodfork and Tyrone Brooks, former Pirates executive and currently MLB’s senior director of the front office and field staff diversity pipeline program.
Tigers assistant David Chadd is believed to have removed himself from consideration last week. Chadd didn’t attend the general managers meetings in Carlsbad, Calif.
Former Dodgers assistant Kim Ng didn’t interview with the Orioles despite persistent reports of her candidacy.
Director of player development Brian Graham has been handling Duquette’s duties on an interim basis, including the resetting of the 40-man roster. Graham and director of baseball operations Tripp Norton represented the Orioles at the GM meetings.
Colletti emerged as an early favorite after John Angelos flew out to Los Angeles in June to meet with him and after John and Louis Angelos sat down with him in early October in D.C. Colletti and Cherington likely would have been given the title of president of baseball operations due to their past GM experience. Elias could be GM or executive VP.
Elias, 35, checks off a lot of boxes for the Orioles, who sought a hire with a strong background in scouting and player development and could lead the organization deeper into the analytic age and make it a true player in the international market.
The Yale graduate joined the Astros organization in December 2011 after working for the Cardinals, becoming an assistant GM in August 2016 and leading the domestic and international scouting departments. The Astros won the 2017 World Series with many of the key players, including shortstop Carlos Correa and third baseman Alex Bregman, arriving due to Elias’ influence.
Elias began his professional career as a Cardinals scout in 2007 and became manager of amateur scouting in 2010, setting him on a path that is expected to lead him into the Orioles’ front office.
Bringing in Elias would be the first move. The Orioles also need an assistant and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand speculated that former Astros sabermetrics analyst Sig Mejdal could fill the role.
Mejdal, a former NASA engineer, let his contract expire earlier this month to pursue other opportunities.
Hiring an assistant figures to be a swift process, with anyone interviewing for the top position already providing a list of preferences. However, it could take a little longer to find a replacement for manager Buck Showalter and assemble a coaching staff.
The contracts of the Orioles’ coaches expired on Oct. 31. Duquette and Showalter were informed on Oct. 3 that they wouldn’t return next season.
The front office and scouting department already have undergone massive changes and more are in store once the new hires are in place. There’s also the lingering uncertainty over how vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson will be impacted.
I’ll provide updates on this story.
Update: Elias is the definite choice, but again, it’s not official. There hasn’t been an announcement and it could be delayed with the Angelos brothers attending the owners meetings in Atlanta.
Mejdal is expected to join Elias in Baltimore.