The General Managers Meetings begin Tuesday in Carlsbad, Calif., and the Orioles will be one of two teams there without a GM. Brian Graham, who is the interim general manager until a new one is named, will represent the Orioles.
The San Francisco Giants are the other team that doesn’t have a GM, though they have a manager of long standing, Bruce Bochy, and other front office personnel.
In 2011, the last time the Orioles changed GMs, Dan Duquette was named to his post the week before the meetings began in Milwaukee. He took along an assistant, Matt Klentak, who moved to the Los Angeles Angels’ front office before assuming GM duties with Philadelphia.
The timetable for selecting a new baseball hierarchy isn’t set, and while the Orioles have made some initial decisions, Graham is leaving the more important ones to Duquette’s successor.
In the past week, the Orioles reinstated four players from the 60-day disabled list — Pedro Araujo, Richard Bleier, Austin Hays and Mark Trumbo, and removed four from their 40-man roster to make room.
Earlier in the week, pitcher Branden Kline was added to the 40-man roster, replacing Adam Jones, who is an unrestricted free agent. The Orioles didn’t consider a $17.9 million qualifying offer for Jones, who surely would have taken it.
A fifth player who was on the 60-day DL, pitcher Gabriel Ynoa, didn’t pitch at all in 2018 because of shin splints and a shoulder injury, and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Infielder Corban Joseph and left-hander Sean Gilmartin were also removed from the 40-man roster, but signed minor league contracts. Gilmartin was a free agent before re-signing Friday.
Utilityman Jace Peterson, who was useful last season, cleared waivers and is a free agent. The Orioles didn’t want to go through a possible arbitration hearing with Peterson, and it’s conceivable he’ll sign a minor league contract with the Orioles if he can’t find a major league deal elsewhere.
Without Peterson, the Orioles are left with five players eligible for arbitration — Tim Beckham, Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens, Caleb Joseph and Jonathan Villar.
Beckham could be non-tendered, though that’s likely a decision for the next management team. Contracts must be offered by Nov. 30.
Joseph could be non-tendered as well, though competent veteran catchers are hard to come by. His projected $1.7 million salary by MLBTradeRumors isn’t onerous, and the Orioles might have to pay just as much for another veteran catcher.
The trade market probably won’t heat up until next month’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. By that time, new management should be in place, and it’s likely a new manager will be on hand, too.
There are no trades that must be made, though if the Orioles can find a taker for Beckham before the end of this month, a move is possible.
Teams might be interested in starting pitcher Dylan Bundy and reliever Mychal Givens, though they’re not likely to fetch much, and the Orioles could probably get more for them by waiting until July’s non-waiver trade deadline.
The Orioles still have to add at least two players, catcher Martin Cervenka and right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate, to the 40-man roster, and there’s a possibility they also could add left-handed reliever Luis Gonzalez.
They haven’t yet claimed any players off waivers, but there are a number of candidates to be taken off the 40-man roster when they add players. Infielder Engelb Vielma and catcher Andrew Susac would seem to be obvious choices.
If Gonzalez or players from outside the organization are added, Araujo, Donnie Hart, infielder Breyvic Valera and outfielder Anthony Santander could be in jeopardy.
A new administration won’t have the same attachment to Rule 5 players drafted and nurtured by the Duquette crowd. Araujo must spend the first 17 days of the 2019 season with the Orioles based on his Rule 5 status.
Santander failed to impress with either the Orioles or with Double-A Bowie. With Hays and DJ Stewart on the horizon and Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna coming on, Santander has gotten buried, and he could be taken off the roster.
The timetable for naming a new manager is going to follow the appointment of a new baseball operations team.
The Texas Rangers named Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward as their new manager over the weekend, leaving the Orioles as the only team without a manager.
Woodward gained traction during the Dodgers’ postseason run. Two names that could be considered by a new administration are Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who was interviewed by the Rangers and the Minnesota Twins, and Boston bench coach Ron Roenicke, who wasn’t interviewed.
Because the Red Sox performed so well, it would be natural to look at manager Alex Cora’s coaches, and Roenicke managed the Milwaukee Brewers to a National League Central title in 2011, his first year there. He managed in Milwaukee until early in the 2015 season, when he was replaced by Craig Counsell.
Roenicke’s Orioles ties are familial. His brother, Gary, was a valuable outfielder for the 1983 World Series champs, often rotating with John Lowenstein.
Once a new operations team is in place, the speculation on who will manage the club can get fully under way.