As some free agent signings are starting to trickle in, we are now just days away from the Winter Meetings in San Diego. The rumors will certainly heat up there, even if the action doesn’t.
As it relates to the Orioles, here is what we do know: not very much.
I think they prefer it that way. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias likes to play it close to the vest, as we know. That is not likely to change anytime soon. He doesn’t see any advantage in letting information leak out. And at a time when social media will spread almost any rumor rapidly with little accountability, all is mostly quiet about the Orioles.
There is no reason to jump to the conclusion that that means the Orioles will have a quiet winter. That seems very, very unlikely. In fact, Elias himself has said the payroll will increase and additions will be sought both for the rotation and the batting order. We are all waiting to find out what that means, exactly, and how much the payroll will increase and in what ways.
Elias has said numerous times now that the playoffs are the goal for 2023, and he didn’t make such a proclamation previously since joining the Orioles. The club has reached the point of producing a winning season, notching 83 wins in 2022, and now the chase is on to add to that and to be playing in the postseason next October.
Elias has said the Orioles are now “in the fight” in the American League East. In a recent interview on MLB Network on Chris Russo's show he said, “we’re poised to make a lot of noise in what is a very, very difficult division over the next several years.”
Elias, for good reason, praised his team’s farm system and young talent in that interview, but also stated the club would be seeking some veteran additions this winter.
“I’m hopeful to have a few to add. We’re working the phone right now,” he said in that mid-November interview. “Free agency has started and we have some targets we’d like to bring in that have a lot of years under their belt. We’ve been very fortunate last year in particular, but even the last few years, the veterans we’ve brought in to a man have seemed to be a really positive clubhouse influence. So, we’re going to be mindful of maintaining that going forward.
“Obviously, you want a roster fit, but we’re trying to bring in the right type of attitude as well. It’s hard to quantify what those guys do, but when you are down in the clubhouse and you see it every day, every night in person in the way they teach young players how to go about their business and help the manager and coaching staff do their jobs, it’s undeniable.”
As an aside, I like that Elias said there that while you can't put a stat on it, being a great teammate is important to the Orioles. Having a positive and upbeat clubhouse has served them well the last few years, when winning and losing.
What little info or speculation has been published or broadcast about the Orioles thus far has indicated that they are leaving few stones unturned and are looking everywhere and in every way for additions. That doesn’t ensure anything either, but you would expect the Orioles to be a casting a wide net at this point of the offseason.
It takes two to tango here. And sometimes in free agency a number of players will wait for someone or several someones to set the market, and then we see a string of signings. It could play out that way this winter. Or not. It’s unpredictable, and that is part of the fun. Did anyone see Carlos Correa signing with the Twins last offseason?
When asked in that interview if he has ownership support to make the moves he wants to make, Elias indicated he does.
“We have a big plan in place for the next few years as we look to augment and grow this group, and kind of grow the business of Orioles baseball too," he said. "Get the fans back in here, renovate the stadium. So, we have a ton going on. I couldn’t be more optimistic about the near-, medium- and long-term future of baseball in Baltimore. We have a lot of work to do, but I know that right plan is in place to make it as good as we possibly can make it."