BALTIMORE -- With the end of the offseason less than three weeks away, the Orioles are the lone American League club yet to sign a free agent to Major League deal. This in itself is not necessarily a surprise. The O's are in full rebuilding mode, and executive vice president
BALTIMORE -- With the end of the offseason less than three weeks away, the Orioles are the lone American League club yet to sign a free agent to Major League deal. This in itself is not necessarily a surprise. The O's are in full rebuilding mode, and executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has stated since the Winter Meetings that he plans to be "opportunistic" in regards to the free-agent market. With a bevy of players still available, time still remains to do so.
But it didn't take long at the club's annual FanFest event on Saturday for Elias, in his first chance to personally interact with fans since assuming the job in November, to be asked about one free agent in particular. That is Adam Jones, who remains unsigned following an 11-year stint as perhaps Baltimore's most productive and popular player.
Elias was noncommittal when asked about Jones during a Q&A session with season-ticket holders, both downplaying the possibility of a reunion while also leaving the door open.
"I don't think anything is a dead issue," Elias later told reporters. "We still have a lot of time left. The market in general has been moving kind of slow the last couple of years. We're monitoring everything. We have some ideas in mind for what might make sense for what we're trying to do to improve the club this year and advancing some of our longer-term strategic goals."
Though Jones remains beloved in Baltimore, the reality is, free agents of his ilk figure to help the Orioles little in that latter initiative. Now 33, Jones still possesses the 10-and-5 rights he used to veto a trade last summer, and he would have the ability to do so again wherever he signs. Jones is also on record saying he's seeking a multi-year contract.
Given the early stage of their rebuild, the Orioles are much more likely to target veterans on short-term deals, with the hope of dealing them for prospects midseason. Elias even hinted at eschewing the market all together, saying "if a group close to what we have now shows up in Spring Training, we're going to have what we need to work with in terms of putting together a team, and putting together competition for spots that we want."
Still, Elias made sure to note the imprint Jones left in Baltimore wasn't lost on the new regime.
"When you hear good things about somebody, it makes you feel better," Elias said. "If somebody was not well liked, or appreciated by their teammates or the city, that would certainly be a disincentive to bring him back. Our focus is on elevating the capabilities of this organization and the talent level in this organization, and I've got to keep sight of that. But we're looking to be opportunistic and shrewd with the players who remain unsigned."
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.