Elias says Orioles don't have a 'sense of urgency' to make deal at Winter Meetings - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Winter Meetings Coverage

Elias says Orioles don’t have a ‘sense of urgency’ to make deal at Winter Meetings

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer USA TODAY Sports

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NASHVILLE—As the first day of the Winter Meetings concluded, Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said there was “definitely no sense of urgency” to make a deal while he and his front office are in town.

The Winter Meetings end Wednesday afternoon, and while the market has been slow, Elias doesn’t think he’s going to rush the process.

“I’ve never been one to view these meetings as some type of compressed time frame where you’ve got to do something,” Elias said. “We’re not worried about making any deals while we’re here. I think it’s possible that something happens or you hear something. In no sense are we feeling any pressure just from the event.”

The Orioles haven’t made a trade at the Winter Meetings since Elias took over in November 2018 and other than confirming pitcher Kyle Gibson’s signing last year, there hasn’t been any Orioles free-agent news at the Winter Meetings.

“I don’t have a big opinion on whether this is a deep or a shallow pitching free-agent class,” Elias said. “It seems fine. There are some top-end guys. At least a couple of them have already signed. It seems like a pretty standard, normal year.

“When it comes to the trade market, I think my observation is that there aren’t many teams right now that are openly rebuilding. All but a handful of teams seemed to be talking openly about trying to make the playoffs [in 2024], so there’s not a huge glut of sellers right now.”

The big question is whether the Orioles will sign a free-agent starter or trade for one. They’re also interested in relievers.

“We have a lot of ongoing conversations with teams that are going for it and just seeing if we match up parts and some of that is on the starting pitcher side, but a lot of it’s been on the bullpen side, too. We’re exploring a bullpen addition. A lot of those conversations have picked up on the trade front recently, but we’ll just have to see what happens.”

The Orioles have the consensus top minor league system in baseball, but Elias hasn’t dipped heavily into his players for deals.

“We’re as well-equipped as any team to rattle off prospect packages for any player,” Elias said. “That doesn’t mean that we want to do that just because we have the No. 1 farm system. We could theoretically outbid any team. At some point, it becomes a trade you don’t want to do regardless of who’s bidding on it.

“It’s nice because it equips us to get involved in any conversation. There’s more to making trades than being the high bidder. The trade’s got to make sense, and I think another thing is a lot of our prospects are so close to the majors … these are guys that could help the 2024 Orioles, too. We’re having those conversations as well as talking to agents.”

The Orioles are coming off a year when they won 101 games, their most since 1979 and won the American League East for the first time since 2014.

“We want to make the team better,” Elias said. “I think it’s pretty clear that there’s probably a little more avenue for that on the pitching side just because our position player group is almost entirely returning, and we have more on the way. I think it can be foolish to speak about what your goals and priorities are without getting a sense of what the market looks like.”

Elias said he’s not reluctant to move  prospects to get the pitching he thinks the Orioles need.

“We’re definitely prepared to,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations dating back to the trade deadline where we made some of our more famous prospects available. I think what I would stress is just because we have this wonderful farm system and we theoretically would have the ability to match or top people’s trade offers, we also have to worry about the balance of the trade itself, not just who we’re outbidding.

“These are guys who have tools, are performing in Triple-A, are consensus top 50 prospects in baseball in every third party you look at. We’ve got teams asking about them left and right. You don’t just throw those guys into trades and write it off. Those are players that are not only going to be helping soon but helping for a long time.”

With a number of infield and outfield prospects, it seems there isn’t room for all of them.

“I think it’s fun for us to be in a position where we can get into every trade conversation, but I think this perception that we have too many prospects and we need to get rid of some of them, that doesn’t register with me,” Elias said.

“We want to have a very talented organization. We need to make good trades. We don’t need to jettison players so that’s what we’re focusing on doing, but I think we’re very open to and very realistic about making our prospects available because there are some impact players out there, possibly on the trade market, and you’ve got to give something to get something.”

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