BALTIMORE—Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias didn’t get specific about his plans for the offseason. He lamented that the team lost to the Texas Rangers in three games in the American League Division Series, and saluted the team’s players.
“Luckily, we’re going to be working with many, many, many of them going forward. We asked a lot of them, and they delivered,” Elias said at a news conference on Thursday. “Any shortcomings that anyone perceives with the 2023 campaign should be directed towards me.
“Those guys did absolutely everything asked of them, which was a lot. They’re a special group of guys, and they had a great season. Unfortunately, just didn’t have a good outcome in the Division Series.”
Elias was clearly tired and much more subdued than usual in his 30-minute session. While he was characteristically expansive, at times he gave unusually short answers to questions.
“Obviously we’re looking to get better,” Elias said “We have to also look to maintain. That’s part of the game, too. There’s areas where just maintaining takes effort, so we’re going to be doing all that. I am looking forward to doing it in a professional way and sitting down and analyzing and talking to people.
“One of the unwanted consolation prizes of getting eliminated early is you have a little bit more time to prepare for the offseason … I don’t have huge specific answers about what we’re going to be out there looking for, doing. Not ready for that yet. We’re going to start putting the thought and the work into those very important questions starting right now.”
Elias said that closer Félix Bautista, who had Tommy John surgery in Arlington, Texas on Tuesday, would be heading to Sarasota in the next few days.
Left-hander John Means, who missed the ALDS because of a sore elbow, “is in good shape,” Elias said. “We got him checked out. His elbow kind of barked at an unfortunate time for him. We’ve gotten it looked at and he’s going to be fine. He’ll be a full go in spring training. Nothing needed for treatment for him other than just time and rest.”
Elias has never talked about possible negotiations on long-term deals with some of the team’s top players.
“We are very focused on keeping this organization successful and healthy as possible within the constraints of reality,” he said. “Obviously, we have players here that we love and when you look at it right now, and you go, ‘I wish we had those guys under contract for longer than they currently are,’ and a big part of keeping this franchise healthy is pursuing, examining opportunities to possibly keep some of these guys longer.
“I’ve said it over and over. We quietly work on this in the background. I don’t want to be the one talking about it, but obviously that’s a part of our job as a front office to tackle that subject.”
The contract lengths of Elias and manager Brandon Hyde have never been disclosed, and Elias again refused to answer, but said that he and Hyde “are 100 percent in on this,” he said. “We’re giving our hearts and souls and our minds and quite a bit of experience to this. I hope that lasts forever.”
The Orioles made two acquisitions that they thought would fortify the pitching staff, trading for starter Jack Flaherty on August 1st, and adding reliever Shintaro Fujinami on July 19th.
Flaherty lost his spot in the rotation and pitched in relief late in the season and in the ALDS, and Fujinami wasn’t on the roster after lacking the ability to control his pitches. Neither is expected to return next season.
“I lament that our outcomes at the trade deadline, obviously didn’t propel us through the ALDS. We had all kinds of things going on at the trade deadline that just didn’t happen,” Elias said. “It’s absolutely something that we reflect on and want to do better … We had a great year. We fell short. Those are best directed at me. That’s the way I’m going to approach it this winter as we think about how we’re going to get better.”
Hyde still smarting from loss: Hyde spoke after Elias and said that he is still hurting after Texas completed its three-game sweep on Tuesday.
“The way it ended was awful, and it sucked,” Hyde said. “We’re wearing that still. It was a really successful season and overcoming so many odds and obstacles that are against us and so many people thinking that we weren’t going to be a playoff team and all of a sudden we win 101 games and win the American League East.”
He said he’ll be watching the rest of the postseason.
“I’ll watch. I’ll watch a little different this year,” he said. “I’ll watch a little irritated, to be honest with you. I’m still irritated, still frustrated, still pissed.”
Hyde said that the loss of Means was critical because he couldn’t use a starter in long relief. “Our bullpen became a bunch of short relievers,” he said.
While Elias and Hyde both declined to speculate on who might replace Bautista as the closer in 2024, Hyde spoke glowingly of left-hander DL Hall, who pitched well in September and against Texas in the ALDS.
“We haven’t discussed DL’s role next year,” Hyde said. “I’m excited about how he threw the ball in September and how he threw the ball on the national stage. Whatever we decide to do with him, he’s going to be a huge part of our team next year … He’s going to be a big impact for us going forward.”
Call for questions: Next week, I’ll be answering offseason Orioles questions. Please email yours to: [email protected].