Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said he’s thankful for his players’ health during a season that was shortened by Covid-19, but that he isn’t satisfied with what he saw on the field.
“It’s very difficult for me to label any season a success where we have a losing record and don’t make the playoffs,” Elias said during a video conference call on Saturday. “I see enough positive things where we can feel good that this year was far from wasted, and there was progress made toward our ultimate goals.”
Entering Saturday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo, the Orioles have a 24-34 record with two games to play. They were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday.
Elias and manager Brandon Hyde are completing their second season with the team. Elias had praise for Hyde’s work.
“It’s been an extremely difficult year to be a major league manager,” Elias said. “Which is one of the hardest jobs in sports to begin with, and everything that’s he’s had to deal with on a day-in and day-out basis, it’s been crazy. He’s handled it with grace and humanity, and he also continues to be a be a good baseball coach.
“I think everyone’s impressed with the work that he’s done. It’s exciting having him as part of the organization.”
When asked about players, Elias said that he expects that the Orioles will continue to hold on to first baseman Chris Davis, who ends the season on the injured list because of a knee injury. Davis, who will have two years left on his seven-year, $161 million contract, hit just .115 in 16 games after hitting .168 in 2018 and .179 last season.
“It was not a successful year for Chris on a number of fronts,” Elias said. “It’s a tough situation for everyone involved, and that includes him.
“He is under contract with this team. There’s a lot that goes into it, and we do not have plans to alter that fact.”
Elias expects Trey Mancini, who underwent his final scheduled chemotherapy session this week after colon cancer surgery, to be with the team next season.
“We’re very much hopeful and excited that he can come back and help us,” Elias said. “He fits in well with us. He was everything for us last year, and to add him back next year, I just think gets everyone excited.
“He just went through a lot. It just ended. He’s going to have to get his strength and his baseball activities back. There’s still going to be some work and some processes going through that this winter. He’s such a strong, dedicated, mentally strong kid and person that we have nothing but confidence that he’s going to do it over this offseason and have a great year next year.”
Elias didn’t say whether the Orioles would pick up the $3.5 million option on shortstop José Iglesias’ contract for 2021.
“His impact on the team has been plain to see this year,” Elias said. “He’s really helped us, and we love having him. That goes for a lot of guys here.”
Michael Baumann, a top minor league pitching prospect suffered an elbow injury, a flexor mass strain. His season ended early, and Elias said that the Orioles will start him throwing a little earlier than usual and expect him to be healthy for spring training.
Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, a top minor league prospect, was not called up during the season.
“I continue to be a big believer in him,” Elias said. “He looked good in Bowie. He drew a lot of walks. He hit a lot of homers. His defense looked great.
“He’s somebody that’s going to be able to help us in all three outfield spots, and he could have and probably would have come up and debuted this season or been ready to, but we had so many outfielders in the second half that we wanted to give long looks to, mostly [Ryan] Mountcastle and DJ Stewart, that it was really just their turn.”
Elias declined to say whether there would be changes on Hyde’s coaching staff.
“This has been a really good group, worked well together, had a lot of success and we’re certainly mindful of that, but you always react to each year’s circumstances and think about the future,” Elias said.
“We’ll take a look at all that at the right time, but there’s so much uncertainty right now with the season and just everything. It’s a little different process and timing than in a normal year.”
Elias said that it’s impossible to accurately plan financially for the offseason and 2021.
“We’re going into a very uncertain offseason from a number of angles,” he said. “There’s been a lack of ability to plan that I expect will persist through this winter, and we’ll just take it as it comes and navigate it as well as we possibly can.”