Now that Mike Elias is in his job, his first big decision, and the one that is most eagerly awaited, is his choice for Orioles manager. On Monday, Elias said that he won’t be rushed into making a choice even if the Winter Meetings begin in less than three weeks.
Elias has one clear advantage. The Orioles aren’t competing with any other team, and for perhaps the only time in their history, they can afford to be deliberate about their managerial choice.
“It’s always a long list,’’ Elias said. “I’m not down to a short list. There are a lot of really good names. There are people who are currently on major league staffs, former managers who are not on a major league staff right now, and then also people in front offices, recently retired players. It’s all walks of life.
“It’s a large list right now and I’m going to whittle it down deliberately.”
Who could be on Elias’ list?
When he was hired from the Houston Astros, the immediate speculation was that Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who was interviewed for four of the other five open jobs this fall, would get serious consideration.
Espada, who’s also coached with the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees, replaced Alex Cora when he left for Boston.
If Elias wants to look at candidates with Orioles ties, he could consider Mike Bordick, longtime Orioles shortstop and MASN broadcaster. Bowie manager Gary Kendall might also merit consideration. So could Brian Graham, who served as interim GM during the six-week search. Graham has been the team’s director of player development.
“I do not think that is a requisite, but obviously experience, especially good experience, is always attractive in any hiring process,’’ Elias said. “This is ultimately going to be a menu of people, so I’m not going to pigeonhole a job description at this point and then try to find somebody who fits that perfectly.”
Elias has said he’s going to talk to his contacts around the game. If he’s looking for an accomplished manager with whom he’s familiar, perhaps Mike Matheny, who managed the St. Louis Cardinals for 6 ½ seasons, is a possibility. Matheny worked in the Cardinals’ organization while Elias was there before he succeeded Tony LaRussa for the 2012 season.
Another former manager with an excellent resume is John Farrell, who has extensive experience in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.
Matheny, who was let go by St. Louis at the All-Star break, is currently out of baseball. Farrell worked in the Cincinnati front office last season.
Terry Collins, who adeptly guided the New York Mets during a rebuilding and stayed as they made it to the World Series in 2015, could be a long-shot possibility. Collins, who has great energy, is 69 and would be by far the oldest manager in major league baseball.
Former major league managers Jim Riggleman and Walt Weiss were mentioned in The Athletic last weekend. The 65-year-old Riggleman has managed five different major league teams. He grew up in suburban Washington, and managed the Nationals until abruptly resigning in June 2011.
Riggleman was the interim manager of the Reds in 2018, but wasn’t hired for the full-time job.
Weiss managed the Colorado Rockies for four seasons, ending in 2016, and is Atlanta’s bench coach.
In the off-season, four of the five open jobs went to first-time managers. Rocco Baldelli (Minnesota), David Bell (Cincinnati), Charlie Montoya (Toronto) and Chris Woodward (Texas) are all new to big league managing. Only Brad Ausmus (Los Angeles Angels) has managed before.
Paul Molitor, who was replaced by Baldelli as Twins manager after the season, is another possibility, and former players who have yet to coach or manage such as Carlos Beltran, Mark DeRosa, Jerry Hairston, Raul Ibanez and David Ross could get consideration.
Beltran concluded his storied career with the Astros in 2017. DeRosa, a contender for the New York Mets job last year, withdrew from consideration for jobs this offseason. Hairston is a former Oriole who has worked on Los Angeles Dodgers telecasts in recent years. Ibanez and Ross have both worked for ESPN since retiring.
“We’re going to look at the best available and we will choose from among them the right fit for this team, this situation, this front office group,” Elias said.
Tate added to 40-man
The Orioles decided to add right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate to the 40-man roster. Tate was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Zach Britton to the New York Yankees.
To make room for Tate, the Orioles designated infielder Engelb Vielma for assignment.
The Orioles decided not to protect catcher Martin Cervenka and left-handed reliever Luis Gonzalez. Both could be selected by other teams in next month’s Rule 5 draft.