SAN DIEGO - Would the Orioles be willing to take on a significant salary if the trade also included a prospect that they held in high regard?
Would the budget support such a move?
The Giants did it yesterday in their deal with the Angels, acquiring infielder Zack Cozart and 21-year-old shortstop Will Wilson in exchange for cash considerations. They’re on the hook for Cozart’s entire $12.167 million salary next season.
This is basically a way for the Giants to buy a prospect, while the Angels save money that could be used toward a big-time free agent such as third baseman Anthony Rendon or pitcher Gerrit Cole.
Wilson was the 15th overall pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of North Carolina State.
With the Orioles in such a cost-conscious mode while undergoing a massive rebuild, they might not have the resources or the stomach to copy the Giants’ strategy.
“I saw it,” said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias. “I think that if and when you can do that stuff and have it make sense from a number of angles, it’s smart. It’s something that we would take a look at if it came along, but there are budgetary considerations and San Francisco has a pretty large amount of space in their budget right now, from all indications. So I think it was something that they were able to do.”
Elias’ response naturally leads to more questions.
Does he have a sense from ownership whether there’s room in the budget? Would it be determined on a case-by-case basis?
“I think case-by-case it would have to be something that we would take to them,” Elias said. “It’s not something that I would say we’re actively chasing down right now.”
The quality of the prospect definitely would be taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, Elias and his staff are checking the foreign markets as they seek to plug the various holes in the roster and improve their depth and level of talent throughout the organization.
“It’s something that we talk about,” he said. “Mike Snyder in particular has got a lot of feel for the Asian markets because that was a big focus of his the past couple of years, which helps. And there are guys that we’ve talked about.
“I don’t know if we’re going to make anything happen, but we keep our eye on it.”
Elias is keenly aware of past players who left the United States and enhanced their value, allowing for a profitable return to the majors. They can offer something unique compared to the standard free agent.
“I think it can be a different type of player,” Elias said, “where it’s somebody who, for whatever reason, their career had maybe stalled out here and they go over to Asia and figure something out and it looks real and teams want to buy them back. So it’s somebody who’s had some type of renaissance, made some type of change. It’s a little bit of a different category.”
* I wrote yesterday that the Orioles intend to evaluate Ryan Mountcastle at four positions in spring training - first base, third base, left field and right field. Elias explained that they want to see how he looks in left and also give him much-needed repetitions.
“He’s in a little bit of a weird spot right now where he can play a number of positions but he hasn’t really mastered any one of those, and we’ve got to figure out which way to steer that in the early going,” Hyde said.
“We want him to still continue to be able to play in the infield and play in the outfield, but we also need to ramp up his outfield exposure quickly.”
* The Orioles met last night to begin crafting their list of Rule 5 preferences ahead of Thursday morning’s draft. They hold the second pick after taking shortstop Richie Martin last year and trading for infielder Drew Jackson.
“It’s different than last year,” Elias said. “Last year we had Richie Martin as kind of a consensus pick at the top and we were like the perfect team to take him on because of our middle infield needs and the fact that we were rebuilding. This year it sounds like there’s more arms in the mix.
“It’s just a little more diverse group, and we have yet to make any type of decision.”
Martin appeared in 120 games this season, but Thursday’s selection won’t necessarily stay as active. The Orioles could try to stash a player on the new 26-man roster.
“I think as history dictates it’s easier said than done,” Elias said.
“In Richie’s case, we knew he was going to be able to help us out defensively, even as it would probably end up being a bench/utility/glove role, which is what it ended up being,” Elias said. “We knew we’d be able to have room for that on the team and he’d fill a role on the team. But it does happen.
“I look at (Anthony) Santander right now. He appears to be one of the success stories of taking a guy out of A ball and hiding him on your major league roster and then being able to put him back in your organization, so it’s worth talking about, but it is really hard to do.
“Now, that said, there’s a 26th man on the roster this year, so that might give teams more of an appetite to try it.”