The process of identifying players the Orioles could acquire for the 2022 season has begun. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias discussed that and much more recently on the “Inside the Yard” O’s podcast with hosts Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander.
Elias and all executives throughout Major League Baseball are awaiting the results of the collective bargaining talks between the sports’ players and owners. A new collective bargaining agreement could be in place before the old one expires Dec. 1. This agreement provides the rules that govern how the sport is run, and is essential with issues like salaries, roster size, trades and acquisitions, and free agency. Basically everything important, and general managers really need to have all of this information before the hot stove season can truly start humming.
“I just think it’s going to have to be (quiet) and not because of the labor uncertainly. Moreso, the regulatory uncertainty. The rules might change and until we see all that, it’s really hard to be overly active. Really, you’re just waiting a month hopefully from the end of the World Series to the new CBA. So, I have to assume that people are going to be a little bit slow (in their moves),” Elias said on the podcast.
“When it comes to players, we’ve had several meetings identifying players that seem like they might be fits. Whether those are trade targets or free agent targets. Once we’ve identified those players, we are kind of following up with legwork now, in terms of knowing everything we want to know about these guys prior to the offseason really starting in earnest after the World Series is over.”
The Orioles and the entire sport, new CBA or not, have to set their 40-man rosters in advance of the December Rule 5 draft. The Orioles have a host of big roster decisions to make.
Here is just a partial list of some key players that need to be added for Rule 5 protection this year: DL Hall, Kyle Bradish, Terrin Vavra, Adam Hall, Patrick Dorrian, Robert Neustrom, Kevin Smith, Blaine Knight, Cody Sedlock and Ofelky Peralta.
“There’s always a group of players that in a vacuum, in a perfect world, you want to protect - within reason,” Elias said. “And, you know, that number is always larger than the number that you end up actually protecting when you sit down and look at your overall 40-man roster. Who we want to keep from the current team, how many spots we are going to need for free agents and waiver claims, our own Rule 5 pick and so on. And that usually crunches down your Rule 5 protection number from in a perfect world (of), ‘We should protect these guys.’
“You’re rarely able to do all the ones that you want and you have to make some strategic decisions. You have to remind yourself that you are not just protecting against them getting selected in the draft, it’s sticking (all season with the new team). And so you take some calculated risks, leaving players off. And you hope you do well with your decision-making there.”
Arnold asked Elias when the time will be right to consider trading prospects for established major league players.
“I think when we get within arm’s reach of a good playoff odds for the upcoming season, I think we would very much start to look at expending prospect capital from the farm system to bring in major league help,” Elias said. “You never know, that can happen next year. You can have a lot of good fortune and good developments and pop. But we make internal projections with our current roster of where we expect to be next year. And you wouldn’t want to trade a bunch of prospect for a hope and a prayer at the playoffs. But moreso, a good probability and a good step forward. I’m hopeful that season is coming very soon and we’ll be sure to identify it when we’re in that position.”
Elias said outfielder Heston Kjerstad is expected to take part in the Orioles’ fall program that starts soon in Sarasota, where he will face live pitching in simulated game conditions. It is the next big step toward getting Kjerstad on the field hopefully full-time for a full season in 2022.
He recently resumed batting practice and some baseball activities in Florida after being shut down earlier due to the effects of myocarditis. But soon the player taken No. 2 overall in the 2020 draft, will face some live pitching.
“The rest of that (2020) draft class is doing well, by and large. So, getting him back, the very top in the class, would be enormous and I think really tie that whole class together,” said Elias.
ALCS today: The American League Championship Series begins tonight with the Houston Astros hosting the Boston Red Sox at 8:07 p.m. Houston went 95-67 during the regular season, winning the AL West before eliminating the Chicago White Sox in four games in the AL Division Series. Boston went 92-70, tied for second in the AL East, before beating New York in the wild card game and Tampa Bay in the ALDS.
Houston has played an AL East club the previous four years in the ALCS. They beat the Yankees in seven games in 2017, lost in five games to Boston in 2018, beat the Yankees in six games in 2019 and lost a seven-game series with Tampa Bay last year.
In Game 1 tonight, Boston lefty Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16 ERA) faces southpaw Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA). In Game 2, Boston righty Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75 ERA) faces right-hander Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA).
Dodgers move on: The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 last night to win Game 5 and beat the Giants in the National League Division Series to advance to the NL Championship Series. Cody Bellinger’s single in the ninth broke the 1-1 tie and put the Dodgers ahead, and Max Scherzer got the final three outs for a save. Now Los Angeles will play at Atlanta on Saturday night in the opener of the NLCS.
For the final episode of “Inside the Yard,” Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander chat with O’s EVP & GM Mike Elias about his busy offseason, strategy in filling out the 40-man roster, and how he evaluates coaches during a rebuild. Learn more: https://t.co/1yhXPkbHCr-- Birdland Insider (@BirdlandInsider) October 13, 2021