Roster rumors rare for Orioles

Orioles fans aren’t likely to find a new player under their tree on Christmas morning. The stocking stuffers won’t include a pitcher or outfielder.

Dump bourbon in your egg nog - unless rum or brandy is your preference - and stay patient. Not a creature is stirring, but there’s going to be roster activity by spring training.

Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias issued the warning at the Winter Meetings. Not the one about reports being “overzealous” and “inaccurate.” The other warning.

The Orioles will be slower and later to enter the free agent market. Grab the last cart and hit the aisles. They won’t run out of bargains.

“I expect to be on the slower and later side with major free agent moves, just because of the other work that we’re doing and where we are right now and what this opportunity presents for players,” Elias said on Dec. 12 while addressing any potential interest in bringing back Adam Jones.

“We’ll kind of see where we’re at, but it’s going to be later in the winter.”

It’s Christmas Eve and I still don’t recall hearing the Orioles attached to a particular player. Not in Las Vegas and not now. Every single rumor involved managerial and front office candidates. Nothing concrete or flimsy on a free agent or trade candidate.

Scroll down and let me know when the Orioles are mentioned. And not reheated reports served as fresh tidbits on potentially available players and areas of need.

Manny Machado embarked on his free agent tour. The White Sox traded for his brother-in-law - sort of like a college coach hiring a stud high school recruit’s father as an assistant coach.

The Dodgers dumped salary with their mega-trade with the Reds. The Cardinals took left-hander Andrew Miller off the bullpen board. The Rays, Rangers and Athletics consummated a three-team trade after the Indians, Rays and Mariners consummated a three-team trade.

The Yankees kept left-hander J.A. Happ. The Rays signed pitcher Charlie Morton and promised that he could face more than two batters per game. The Astros signed Michael Brantley and set the timer for how long he can stay in the outfield before breaking down. The Mariners traded every single player on their roster and decided to rebuild around fading veteran Edwin Encarnacion.

The Orioles, meanwhile, hired Elias and manager Brandon Hyde and added analytics guru Sig Mejdal and minor league pitching coordinator Chris Holt. They selected shortstop Richie Martin and traded for infielder Drew Jackson in the Rule 5 draft, grabbed pitcher Taylor Grover in the Triple-A phase and claimed infielder Rio Ruiz off waivers to at least compete with Renato Núñez for the third base job.

They met with agents and executives at the Winter Meetings, but didn’t come close to striking any deals, from what I can glean. Laying the ol’ groundwork, which could produce activity after the calendar flips to 2019.

Cobb-Leaves-With-Trainer-Gray-sidebar.jpgA veteran starting pitcher would be a useful acquisition, and more imperative if Elias is able to move Alex Cobb, who’s owed $43 million with three years remaining on his contract.

Having Mark Trumbo available on opening day, which is the current expectation, keeps Chris Davis at first base and Trey Mancini in left field. Elias and Hyde must decide whether Cedric Mullins is ready to be the full-time center fielder and who’s going to play right.

Can Martin or Jackson convince them that they don’t need another shortstop? Who’s the starting catcher, or at least someone who’s going to share the load?

Hyde must build a coaching staff via the collaborative effort that includes Elias. The Orioles still don’t have replacements for director of player development Brian Graham and director of scouting Gary Rajsich. We’re still not sure whether one individual could oversee both departments. And who’s managing at Triple-A Norfolk?

The warehouse has gone dark for the holidays but the Orioles aren’t shutting down. They’re just preoccupied with other, more pressing needs, before channeling most of their energy toward their roster.

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