SAN DIEGO - There’s a certain rhythm to the annual Winter Meetings that is spliced with interruptions. The breaking news and hastily arranged press conferences, though the Orioles usually don’t get to the podium and aren’t likely to be the center of attention this week.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias will meet daily with the media in the late afternoon, local time, which means filing late stories before wandering the lobby again. The usual managers luncheon has been replaced with a brunch on Wednesday and this year the Orioles table won’t have an empty seat.
There won’t be an omelet bar and Elias won’t waffle on the subject of won-loss records in a rebuild. They just don’t matter right now.
The conversation is casual and off the record. No notepads or recorders. Scroll Twitter at your own risk.
It’s an escape with a side of bacon.
With Elias able to concentrate more on the roster this week, the odds increase that the Orioles will be attached to some free agent and trade rumors upon landing and the motivation to make moves will connect from Baltimore to San Diego.
Some heavy lifting was done back home with the Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy trades. Elias, who arrived in San Diego last night, could use some of his agent time to hammer out agreements with players who were tendered contracts. Reliever Richard Bleier is the only one under contract for 2020.
Elias also will arrange more interviews with candidates to replace bullpen coach John Wasdin, who wasn’t invited back next season. The new hire will join first base coach Anthony Sanders and major league coach Fredi González as additions to the staff.
The back end of the rotation and middle infield are the areas warranting the most attention, and Elias can travel several avenues to find players - trades, major league and minor league free agency and the Rule 5 draft.
Catching depth also is on the list and Caleb Joseph remains one of the possibilities. The Orioles checked on Beau Taylor, a fifth-round draft pick of the Athletics in 2011, before he signed with the Indians.
Taylor appeared in 10 games with the Athletics and one with the Blue Jays this season. He’s thrown out four of seven runners attempting to steal in the majors.
I’ll be curious whether the Orioles attempt to bring back Andrew Cashner to plug a hole in the rotation. He was pretty good for them in the first half, manager Brandon Hyde really liked him and he won’t come at a price that makes them blanch.
He’d certainly like to return, and there’s got to be at least a modicum of interest on the other side.
Cashner could be flipped again at the deadline, a move the Orioles figure to attempt with any newcomer. One-year deals will be offered like Halloween candy. None of the transactions will be whoppers.
I’ve read and heard the speculation on Kevin Gausman, who’s on the market after the Reds non-tendered him. I’d be surprised if his price tumbled to the point where the Orioles could fit him on the budget, but maybe I’m wrong.
Adeiny Hechavarría interests the Orioles, but I’m also curious whether they’d take another look at José Iglesias after passing on him previously. I’ve heard that he was a good teammate in Cincinnati, and the reputation is under repair. The Orioles could check on him again and maybe decide that the glove is too good to ignore.
There are plenty of infielders on the free agent market, especially with the non-tenders infiltrating it, but the Orioles want a plus-defender at shortstop. That’s how they’re narrowing the list.
Details of the annual Winter Meetings Auction, including memorabilia and experiences donated by the Orioles and the cause they benefit, will be revealed later today.