In his first press availability of 2020, the approach of Orioles general manager Mike Elias seemed to change somewhat. Speaking along with newly signed shortstop José Iglesias, Elias emphasized that the one-year contract with an option year was a two-year commitment.
“I look at it like we need a starting shortstop,” Elias said in a Tuesday conference call. “Even if we’re not winning the division this year, I feel that his presence and bringing him into the organization now and into the future will further our rebuilding objectives.”
Elias’ aim isn’t to trade Iglesias at midyear, because he acknowledged the Orioles don’t have major league ready infielders in the minors.
“Not everything is going to come from within,” Elias said. “There are certain jobs that need to be done really well.”
In order to help develop the pitchers that Elias expects to bring up from the minor leagues this season and next, the Orioles need to have superior defenders at shortstop, catcher and in center field.
There are catchers and prospective centerfielders on the major league roster, but no major league shortstops.
“I think he’s going to help us in a lot of ways,” Elias said of Iglesias. “On the field, he’s going to make everyone better around him.”
Elias made two deals within three days last month, trading infielder Jonathan Villar to the Miami Marlins and starting pitcher Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels for a net of five young pitchers.
The Orioles will continue to accumulate young talent.
“That does not rule us out from trying to bring in veteran talent that makes sense for us,” Elias said. “That helps the team, that fits a need, that will radiate out to the rest of the club, which is exactly what we think that position needs.
“We’re still mindful of development, the core that we’re building internally for the future, but we are cognizant of that we want a stable product on the field. We want a good defense behind our pitching staff.
“… Even though we’re eying the future, [and] we’re doing a lot in the draft and internationally in player development, and that’s where our focus is, building the organization. We’re keeping our eye on the major league talent market as well.”
Elias said that he continues to monitor the trade market. There’s been chatter about reliever Mychal Givens and to some extent outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini.
“I think it’s the same status that it has been,” Elias said. “We’re going to talk on a daily basis with other teams. We’ll hear what’s going on, we’ll hear what’s out there. If something comes along that we feel makes us more talented over the long haul, we’re going to listen to it …
“As the clock winds down in the offseason, the odds obviously lean towards the status quo, but we’re still out there working. We’re having trade discussions, and we’re also talking to free agents and potentially signing more players. There’s still a lot going on. We’re monitoring everything as we always do even as the season’s getting closer.”
NOTE: To make room for Iglesias on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Eric Hanhold was designated for assignment. Hanhold was claimed on waivers from the New York Mets on September 16, but was not activated.