The Orioles have less than a week to make a decision on director of scouting Gary Rajsich before his contract expires.
While the contracts of other employees ended on Oct. 31, Rajsich continues to be paid through November and is awaiting a decision.
There have been numerous changes in the baseball operations department, player development and scouting since the Orioles concluded a 115-loss season and began their search for a replacement for executive vice president Dan Duquette. And more are on the way.
We’re just waiting for the next shoe to drop - off a centipede.
With Mike Elias hired as executive vice president and general manager, his first task was bringing in Sig Mejdal as an assistant in charge of analytics. Elias has a strong background in scouting and might have someone else in mind for Rajsich’s position. He’s undoubtedly seeking input from within the organization as the new guy in town.
The Orioles could keep Rajsich as director of scouting, reassign him with a different title and set of responsibilities or decline to offer him a contract for 2019. Nothing has been finalized as we move through the weekend.
Rajsich has been in his current role since November 2011, one of Duquette’s first significant hires. They worked together in Boston before Rajsich became the Blue Jays’ professional crosschecker in 2009. Rajsich replaced Joe Jordan in Baltimore.
The scouting department is lean on holdovers. Special assistants Matt and Danny Haas are gone, the latter taking a job with the Diamondbacks.
Danny Haas joined the Orioles as a national crosschecker in December 2011, and his older brother was given the same title a year later. They also had previous ties to Duquette.
Mike Snyder currently remains as director of Pacific Rim operations and baseball development. The international side already was undermanned, and the Orioles didn’t retain scout Joel Bradley.
Bradley and Calvin Maduro, who’s staying, were the only international scouts based in the United States.
We’ll find out later if Snyder is impacted in any way by Elias’ hiring and the restructuring of the scouting operation. There’s going to be a special emphasis on upgrading the international side and increasing the ability to compete for talent that’s previously been out of the club’s reach.
Elias’ last full plate wasn’t at Thanksgiving dinner. He also needs to begin formal interviews for the managerial position that opened after the Orioles declined to offer Buck Showalter a contract.
Names that have been floated as candidates are purely speculative. We know that Elias is casting a wide net, refusing to narrow his search with prerequisites based on experience or current employment.
Astros bench coach Joe Estrada is a logical candidate due to their history together. A few people in the media have pitched Double-A Bowie manager Gary Kendall, but not based on anything solid coming from inside the warehouse. Just that Kendall profiles as a good fit for a rebuild that’s going to highlight young talent coming up through the system.
I’d also consider Bobby Dickerson, who figures to be replaced as third base coach after his contract ran out on Oct. 31. And I’ve written about director of player development Brian Graham’s past success as a manager in the Indians’ system, if he’d want to move back into the dugout.
Graham compiled a 704-491 record, his teams made the playoffs in eight consecutive years and they never finished below .500 in nine. He was chosen as the Carolina League’s Manager of the Year in 1991 after leading Single-A Kinston to the championship, and was named Minor League Manager of the Year by USA Today’s Baseball Weekly in 1996 with Triple-A Buffalo. The Bisons won the American Association title the following summer.
“There’s a lot of really good names,” Elias said during his introduction. “There’s people who are currently on major league staffs, former managers that perhaps aren’t on a major league staff right now and also people in front offices, recently retired players. So it’s all walks of life. It’s a large list right now, and I’m going to whittle that down deliberately.
“I don’t think (past experience) is a prerequisite, but obviously experience, especially good experience, is always attractive in any hiring process. But we’ll see. As I said, this is going to ultimately be a menu of people, so I’m not going to pigeonhole a job description at this point and then try to find somebody who fits that perfectly. We’re going to look at the best people available, we’re going to talk and find out who the best candidates are and we will choose from among them who’s the right fit for this team, this situation, this front office crew.”