LAS VEGAS -- Since being hired in mid-November, Mike Elias has made his top priority clear. The Orioles' new executive vice president and general manager has poured the bulk of his focus into filling the club's managerial vacancy.
Three weeks later, Elias leaves the Winter Meetings still without one, if only technically. The Orioles will spend the coming days finalizing a contract with their reported selection, Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde. Doing so would mark a vital first step in the organizational rebuild Elias has planned from the ground up.
"We're continuing to make progress, getting closer to a hire every day," Elias said.
Additionally, the club took initial steps in addressing its on-field depth, via two Rule 5 Draft acquisitions and the waiver claim of Rio Ruiz. But there is still much work left to do -- perhaps more than any other team in baseball.
BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS
1. Front-office hiring, organization
Next on the docket for Elias will be filling the holes in the O's baseball operations department, which has already seen significant turnover. The dismissals of Brian Graham and Gary Rajsich left the club without head executives on both the scouting and player-development sides, which Elias and new top lieutenant Sig Mejdal will look to stock with their own people. Their first hire, Chris Holt, followed Elias and Mejdal from Houston to serve as Minor League pitching coordinator. Baltimore is also looking to add substantially to its analytics and international-scouting initiatives.
Of the holdovers from the old regime, Brady Anderson (vice president of baseball operations), Tripp Norton (director of baseball operations) and Mike Snyder (director of Pacific Rim operations) were part of the O's contingency in Las Vegas, and they appear primed to stay, though they could be reassigned in some capacity.
2. Major League coaches
The new manager's first task will be filling his field staff, and he's expected to assume the job with a host of candidates already in mind. Hitting those targets may prove challenging, though, with many dugout positions already filled at this late date.
Behind closed doors, the Orioles spent time this week scouring the trade market for outfield help, and they're open to taking on a salary to acquire it. They're likely to continue testing those waters rather than engaging the free-agent market, at least until later in the offseason. Baltimore's outfield consists of Joey Rickard, Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini.
RULE 5 DRAFT
The Orioles selected shortstop Richie Martin with the No. 1 overall pick, and they acquired utility infielder Drew Jackson from the Phillies for international slot money. They also selected right-hander Taylor Grover in the Minor League phase of the draft.
Baltimore did not lose prospects in the Major League phase of the draft, though they lost four in the Minors phase: right-hander Jeffeson Medina (selected by the Rangers), second baseman Corban Joseph (A's), first baseman Wilson Garcia (Indians) and outfielder Randolph Gassaway (Pirates).
GM'S BOTTOM LINE
"We have to prioritize things with where we are in the calendar cycle and everything we have going on," Elias said. "I've got to complete the [manager] hire first, frankly. I'm trying to do this as fast as possible. We have to hire a lot of coaches, we have a lot of things to do. This is a really important hire, not just for the present but for the future of this franchise. The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned." -- Elias