GM Meetings begin without an Orioles GM - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

GM Meetings begin without an Orioles GM

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. deqalt

    November 5, 2018 at 8:00 am

    A lot seems to be changing in front office, yet somethings remain the same. Orioles seem to always do things different. They have had months to come up with the game plan. Are they waiting on someone or truly this indecisive? The winter meetings I don’t think will matter no reason to sign any of these free agents. 2019 is a learning what you have and building experience for these young players. Trading away Trumbo would be hard but would help the logjam. Outside of that it will be a slow winter!!!

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2018 at 8:46 am

      It’s never slow when you’re around, deqalt.

  2. Orial

    November 5, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Graham’s title–“Director of Player Developement” still strikes me as ironic when “player Developement” may be the organization’s biggest weakness. But whom am I to say. Time frame for making these decisions is not as important as getting it done right though the Winter Meetings would be a good starting point to throw your new regime to the wolves.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2018 at 8:48 am

      I think the Orioles minor league teams have actually done a reasonable job with the players who have been presented to them, Orial.

  3. VICTORTEE

    November 5, 2018 at 9:49 am

    We really have no idea if the O’S draft poorly or are poor at player development, especially with pitchers.

    Why did all the playoff teams seem to have bullpens full of guys throwing close to 100 and the O’s only produced Tanner Scott (although they picked up 1 or 2 in the summer trades)?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2018 at 10:39 am

      Victor, I think the draft could be better. The higher round picks haven’t turned out well, but the lower round picks have done better, and I think the minor Ieague staff has done well.

  4. bmorebirds

    November 5, 2018 at 10:37 am

    The O’s love to do things at a glacial pace and for once that’s probably the perfect approach to follow. I’m betting there’s more than one young Theo Epstein out there, and now is a good time to carefully ID that individual and glom onto him, or her.

    With Texas being our only competitor, why not conduct a super thorough search? We won’t be making a splash at the winter meetings — there’s no rush! Having said that, the Orioles absolutely need to nail this selection.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Bmorebirds, Texas has a GM and just named a new manager. The San Francisco Giants are the only other team without a GM, and the Orioles the only one without a manager.

      • bmorebirds

        November 5, 2018 at 1:12 pm

        Thanks Rich, I stand corrected. With SF being our only GM competitor, not Texas, I still believe a deliberate, unhurried pace is the way to go in terms of executing a GM search.

  5. PA Bird Lover

    November 5, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I’ve been wondering, while at the start of the GM meetings would the Angelo boys be talking to a few desirable assistant GM’s.

  6. willmiranda

    November 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for the Roenicke reminder. Gary and Lowenstein were a very successful platoon. And somewhat entertaining off the field, especially Lowie. Question: Are the GM meetings mostly a junket to put on the expense account?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Will, the GM Meetings are not a junket. Rules changes are discussed, agents meet with teams and GMs discuss possible trades. It’s a quieter version of the Winter Meetings.

  7. Birdman

    November 5, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Maybe the delay is because the Orioles are just so much more thorough than all those other teams that have already completed their GM and manager searches, but somehow I doubt it … more likely, its simply the glacial decision making process and organizational dysfunction that has characterized the team in the past.

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