A spokesman for Major League Baseball issued a statement tonight disputing a New York Daily News report that Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and director of pitching Chris Holt are being investigated for potential pension fraud.
“Major League Baseball is completely comfortable with the Orioles’ coaching designations for the 2020 season, which are not only consistent with the terms of the pension plan but were approved in advance by MLB and shared prior to the start of the season with representatives from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The suggestion that there is an ongoing investigation that could result in discipline is simply false.”
The story claims that Elias designated Holt as one of the four coaches eligible to receive benefits per an agreement between the MLB owners and Players Association. The coaches also can obtain licensing money.
The cancellation of the minor league season due to COVID-19 shifted Holt’s duties to Prince George’s Stadium.
The Daily News story confirms that major league field coordinator and catching instructor Tim Cossins, hitting coach Don Long and third base coach José Flores also were placed in the pension plan. Flores and pitching coach Doug Brocail were informed on Sept. 30 that they wouldn’t return next season.
Steve Rodgers, a special assistant in the Players Association, told the Daily News that the matter is in the hands of the pension committee lawyers. The story claimed that a six-person MLB pension board has been tasked with determining whether Elias knew about the rule that allows only four full-time coaches to be eligible for the benefits in question.
The Orioles aren’t commenting on the article.
The pension plan includes substantial medical benefits and life insurance, as well as a players’ licensing check from the sale of paraphernalia and merchandise and baseball cards that reportedly averages $40,000-$60,000 annually.
Other members of this year’s staff include major league coach Fredi González, first base coach Anthony Sanders, bullpen coach Darren Holmes and assistant hitting coach José Hernández. Holt is viewed as the leading in-house candidate to replace Brocail.
Elias brought Holt from the Astros organization in November 2018 to serve as minor league pitching coordinator, but the promotion to director of pitching last offseason extended his reach to the major league level and more easily allowed him to utilize the technology and data that became available to the organization.