Hyde, Orioles building roster in 'winning mode'

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- When Orioles players report to Spring Training in February, they’ll look to carry over the positive momentum they built in the second half of the 2022 season. What will manager Brandon Hyde’s message to the team be in order to make that happen?

“I’m still working on that,” Hyde said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. “I’ve got some time to think about it.”

Hyde may not have shared what his pre-camp address in two months could feature, but it’s clear he’s not getting complacent after an encouraging 83-win year for Baltimore. The skipper will be expecting more progress during his fifth season at the helm.

“It’s a new year, there’s no doubt,” Hyde said. “The teams in our division are only going to get better. We’re going to improve also, and we’re going to sign some players and give guys opportunity. But just because we’ve grown in talent and we’re a little more exciting to watch -- I think that we still have a lot to prove. We haven’t been to the postseason yet. The day is coming, but we still have a lot of work to do to get there.”

Some of that work has been taking place this week at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, where baseball executives, managers and more have converged for the annual Winter Meetings. Even though the O’s have made only one Major League signing (right-hander to a one-year deal finalized Monday), they’ve been in contact with free-agent starters, giving them their best sales pitch.

On Monday, general manager Mike Elias said the club’s leaders have had “eight or so” Zoom calls with free-agent starting pitchers. The Orioles plan to hold more meetings, but the market continued to move fast Tuesday, with right-hander Taijuan Walker agreeing to a four-year deal with the Phillies and left-hander Andrew Heaney agreeing to a two-year deal with the Rangers.

Hyde is excited about adding Gibson’s veteran presence and experience (10 big league seasons) to his pitching staff, which is mostly filled with young players. But the manager is open to bringing another starter into the fold.

“I feel good about our guys,” Hyde said. “Now if we’re going to add more, that’s great. The more depth, the better; the more experience, the better. So we’ll see what happens.”

This offseason has been a bit busier for Hyde than previous ones. With the O’s in a better position to sign big league-caliber free agents, he’s been on calls with players trying to convince them to come to Baltimore.

It shouldn’t be nearly as much of a challenge as it could have been the past few years.

“What we did last year, how we can build off last year, the talent that we have on our team, the talent that we have coming,” Hyde said. “It’s an attractive place to play.”

The Orioles may or may not make another Major League signing before leaving San Diego later this week. On Tuesday, Elias said he “can’t handicap it.”

But Baltimore continues to lay the groundwork for more additions. Elias added that the team has even "brainstormed" trade possibilities with other teams that would feature Major League players going each way as a potential avenue to add a starting pitcher.

Elias also shared that the Orioles are having face-to-face meetings with representatives from every major agency in attendance at the Winter Meetings. That includes Scott Boras, who said Baltimore has been “very aggressive” and that Elias has been in “constant contact.”

“The Orioles are in a different place, and Mike’s made all of us very aware of that,” Boras said.

The O’s have time -- just like Hyde does to figure out what he’ll say on the first day of Spring Training. Between now and then, the club’s approach to the offseason isn’t changing.

“We’re proud of turning the corner of what we went through the last few years, and now we’re in a different mode,” Hyde said. “Now, it’s a winning mode, and we’re trying to add guys that can help us win.”