BALTIMORE—After talking to Orioles season-ticket holders at FanFest on Saturday, general manager Mike Elias still had a lot of questions to answer.
With spring training just over two weeks away, the Orioles have not signed a major league free agent, and Elias won’t say if he’ll sign any free agents.
“We still have a lot of time left,” Elias said. “As you can see, the market in general is moving kind of slow the last couple of years. It’s just the way things are. I don’t really have an answer for why that is. We’re monitoring everything. We’ve got some ideas in mind for what makes sense for what we’re trying.”
Elias has added four infielders to the 40-man roster: Hanser Alberto, Drew Jackson, Richie Martin and Rio Ruiz and a reliever, Austin Brice, and said that he’ll be looking to add some additional pitchers.
“Pitching is always something that you want to make sure you have enough of,” Elias said.
If he signs a free agent, it most likely will not be for more than one year.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Elias said. “We’ll see what happens. Certainly if the group that we have now or a group close to this group shows up in spring training, we’re going to have what we need to work with in terms of putting together a team and putting together competition for spots that we want. We’re certainly watching and hoping something happens.”
With the season just over two months away, Elias said that he and manager Brandon Hyde don’t want to set specific goals in the rebuilding process.
“Brandon went through this with the Cubs, and I went through this with the Astros, and both of those rebuilding processes went incredibly fast,” Elias said.
“I can’t say that that’s always going to be the case with these things. There’s circumstantial factors that might affect the speed with which a team revisits the playoffs. I’m hopeful that we can do it. I know what we need to do in order to get there. There’s going to be a lot of things happening here. It’s dependent on who we draft, how well they do, how well they progress, how well the players here progress, who’s in the minor league system right now.”
During Elias’ session with the season-ticket holders, he was asked about former Oriole outfielder Adam Jones, who has yet to sign with any team.
“I don’t think anything is a dead issue,” Elias said. “The free-agent market is ongoing. There’s a lot of unsigned players left. We’re just going to have to see how things play out.”
Jones remains popular among the fans. When his name was raised, fans began to applaud and cheer.
“When you hear good things about somebody, it makes you feel better about somebody, it makes you feel better about bringing them back,” Elias said.
“If somebody was not well liked or appreciated by their teammates or the city, it would certainly be a disincentive to bring them back. Our focus is on elevating the capability for this organization and the talent level in this organization. I’ve got to keep sight of that, but we’re looking for ways to be opportunistic and true with the players that are left unsigned right now.”
Hyde’s coaching staff was announced this week. Earlier this month, Elias hired Koby Perez to head international scouting. The minor league staffs should be announced in the next several days. But Elias has not hired replacements for departed minor league director Brian Graham and scouting director Gary Rajsich.
“We’re being very patient and strategic with those hires,” Elias said.
“Some of these are huge hires, and they’re going to dictate and make or break what we do here over the next couple of years. I got my job in November — it’s a difficult part of the hiring cycle in terms of getting permission on people, interviewing a full slate of candidates.
“The last thing I wanted to do is make hires of that magnitude with one hand tied behind my back. We’re going to be adding piecemeal throughout the year, especially in the analytics department and the scouting department. We’ve got some stuff going on behind the scenes right now. As we get into the hiring season next year, I think there will be a wave of additions. But this is going to be a little more gradual process over the next couple of years.”