BALTIMORE—Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said the team will look outside the organization for pitching help after another season in which their starters and relievers struggled.
“I think it would be very overly optimistic of us to assume that we have enough pitching to compete in our division just by bringing back returning players,” Elias said on Thursday in his annual season-end wrapup.
“We are very interested, still, and very encouraged by a lot of the guys that are on this 40-man roster even though a lot of them had a lot of rough stretches in the middle of the summer. We’ve seen some encouraging finishes for some of these guys in September, whether that’s in the minors or in the majors.
“This group, by and large, is part of our future plans and there’s a lot of talent there. It’s not surprising when guys have struggles pitching in the American League East in their first year or two in the big leagues … We need to get more talented in a lot of areas, and pitching is at the top of the list, and we’re going to be seeking reinforcements, for sure.”
Elias said he wouldn’t be opposed to adding pitchers on major league contracts—unlike the three he signed just before spring training: Wade LeBlanc, Matt Harvey and Felix Hernández — and he would consider multi-year agreements.
“That may be assured of getting something that we like, and I’m not going to artificially force something like that, just to be able to say that we did that,” Elias said. “We do have a lot of internal, talented pitchers that we want to keep pitching. We’re also going to need pitchers from outside the organization to help share the load.”
Elias said that he has the support of Orioles’ ownership in pursuing free agents.
“I think that we will continue to have full financial support for executing our strategy of getting this team back to the playoffs in a realistic, viable, sustainable way and to the degree that comes with kind of fortifying our roster with free-agent investments that we want because they’re strategic, that will be there.”
Elias also said that 2020’s top draft choice, outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who hasn’t played because of myocarditis, an enlargement of the heart, is expected to participate in the Instructional League in Sarasota, Florida next month. Kjerstad recently tweeted a video of himself taking batting practice. Elias said he expected Kjerstad to play for a full-season affiliate next season.
“I’m not posting any goals given how long this has played out,” Elias said.
With the Orioles currently holding the second-worst record in baseball, one game better than the Arizona Diamondbacks, Elias said he wasn’t aiming to draft No. 1 in 2022.
“I don’t worry about that at all,” Elias said. “You don’t know what’s out there. Crazy stuff happens. I want to finish as strong as we can possibly finish. I think we take a lot of pride in giving a lot of these teams fits down the stretch.
“It’s good for the team and the players and that’s our focus right now. We’re going to have a high pick.”
Elias said he expected any changes to the coaching staff to be made shortly after the season ends.