Elias says it's "definitely a very strong possibility" that Holliday makes the club in spring training

NASHVILLE – Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said he’s had a “productive day” of meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Can’t get into particulars, but a lot of good conversations with so many attractive free agents remaining on the board and plenty of trade partners.

Jackson Holliday isn’t just untouchable in those discussions. He could be on the roster when the team breaks camp.

“It’s definitely a very strong possibility,” Elias said. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but he had an historic first full season in the minors. You probably have to go back into like the ‘80s or ‘90s to find something similar to that, in my opinion, for an American kid out of high school.

“Got to Triple-A, wasn’t there a huge amount of time, didn’t tear the cover off the ball, but he more than held his own and he did well. He’s now going to be back in spring training. He just turned 20 (yesterday), so to me that’s a big year of development, 19 to 20. You get taller, you get heavier, you get more mature. There’s a lot of good things that happen. So we just want to see what he looks like.”

Holliday was invited to spring training last year and impressed with his skills and attitude before the Orioles assigned him to the minor league side and the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. He won’t be on the clock in 2024, waiting to be called into manager Brandon Hyde’s office with the inevitable news.

“He’s going to be treated in this major league camp not like a prospect where we’re kind of having fun and having him in camp for the experience of it,” Elias said, “but like a guy trying to make the team.”

Holliday, who batted a combined .323/.442/.499 in 125 games and 581 plate appearances with four affiliates, with 30 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 75 RBIs, 101 walks and 24 stolen bases, will play second base and shortstop in camp.

“He probably won’t do much beyond that this year because I think that that’s where his skills profile best,” Elias said. “But it also seems to me those two positions where I could foresee the most playing time in 2024.”

The Orioles aren’t concerned about the movement among positions impacting Holliday’s performance in a negative way.

“That’s baseball today,” Elias said. “Gunnar (Henderson) was a good example of how that can be accepted and not problematic. It’s challenging for the players but they can handle it. Some of the biggest stars in baseball … Mookie Betts goes from the outfield to second base. It’s part of baseball now and it provides a lot of value.

“There’s very, very, very, few players that just stand in the same spot and no where else.”

Hyde spoke earlier today about staying with the similar shuffling in the infield, including Jordan Westburg bouncing from second to third and maybe shortstop, though he can’t predict the composition of his roster and must wait for the offseason to play out.

“I think if the season started tomorrow, I would probably be doing the same thing I did toward the end of the season last year with matching up guys the best way I can,” he said.

Hyde didn’t have the first-overall pick in the 2022 draft, baseball’s top prospect, in that mix. It’s a growing possibility for Opening Day.

“Well, I've never seen a kid that young go that fast, have that much success this fast, especially at a high level like Triple-A for 19,” he said. (Giancarlo) Stanton, I had him in Double-A at 19 and then he repeated and went to Double-A at 20 and came up to the big leagues at the halfway point at 20. But Jackson, the numbers he's put up throughout his short minor league career are, especially for his age is really incredible.

“I think we're going to give him as much looks as possible in spring training, give him every opportunity. We obviously really believe in his talent. He's going to have a huge future and a great career. Whether it's going to be breaking with us or not, I can't answer that right now, but we're going to give him an opportunity.”

No matter the limited Triple-A experience, with only 22 total games including four in the postseason.

The Orioles seem willing to make an exception to their prospect rule.

“Yeah, I think when you're making those decisions, you're not fully confident that you're making the right choice. I think you're looking at a lot of things, whether it's makeup, is he ready physically, ready mentally to handle the major league life,” Hyde said.

“I think with Jackson's case, growing up in a major league clubhouse has obviously been a huge help for him. He's not going to be overwhelmed from what playing in the big leagues is like because he's been in that environment before, and that's a big deal. But the major leagues is a lot different than the minor leagues, and the major leagues is a lot different than Triple-A. So, whether we feel like he's ready to handle that or not, we'll see.”

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