Six weeks after the Orioles dismissed Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, reports indicate that the team could be naming Houston Astros assistant general manager Mike Elias as his successor.
Elias, who succeeded David Stearns as Astros GM Jeff Luhnow’s chief assistant three years ago when Stearns went to Milwaukee as the Brewers GM, has emerged as the favorite, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted that Sig Mejdal, a former NASA engineer who recently left the Astros’ organization after six years as an analytics guru, could be joining Elias with the Orioles.
Houston’s organization is considered the brainiest in baseball, and Elias, a former scouting director for the team, supervised the draft when the Astros selected Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers, all key contributors to the team that won the World Series in 2017 and captured the NL West in 2018.
If Elias is named as Duquette’s successor, he’ll have to find a new manager. Buck Showalter was also dismissed on Oct. 3. The Orioles will have no competition in their managerial search since all five teams that were in the market for a new manager have already filled their vacancies.
One name that could surface is Joe Espada, Houston’s bench coach, who interviewed for the job with the Texas Rangers and was also eyed by the Los Angeles Angels.
The Orioles’ search, headed by John and Louis Angelos, was wide-ranging with at least five other candidates interviewed.
Former Boston GM Ben Cherington, who’s an assistant GM in Toronto, Ned Colletti, former Los Angeles Dodgers GM, MLB officials Tyrone Brooks and Peter Woodfork, and Ned Rice, a longtime Orioles front office employee who’s an assistant GM in Philadelphia, were also reportedly interviewed.
Woodfork’s name, which first surfaced in a report last week by The Athletic, was an interesting one because there was some thought that he could help ease tensions between the Orioles and MLB.
The Orioles are engaged in a long-running dispute over television rights fees with the Washington Nationals and the MASN case is nearing arbitration. A panel of three owners will decide the case, and the years long battle has badly soured relations between MLB and the Orioles.
Commissioner Rob Manfred angrily denied at the All-Star Game in Washington that the Orioles were being penalized by MLB for prolonging the case.
However, it seems obvious that Camden Yards, which drew national acclaim as the site of the 1993 All-Star Game, is being intentionally bypassed by MLB.
Four National League stadiums, including Nationals Park, were chosen to host the games from 2015-18, and Cleveland, the site of the 1997 game, was picked for the 2019 game.
With no other team looking for a manager, the new head of baseball operations, if it’s indeed Elias, should have no trouble attracting a qualified manager to Baltimore — even though the job is likely to be a difficult one in 2019 and perhaps beyond.