LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles are responsible for a series of unusual scheduling gaps at this year's Winter Meetings that typically include active public itineraries for the manager of each club. For skippers, the week consists of hours huddling in executive suites, conducting media interviews and attending luncheons organized with
LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles are responsible for a series of unusual scheduling gaps at this year's Winter Meetings that typically include active public itineraries for the manager of each club. For skippers, the week consists of hours huddling in executive suites, conducting media interviews and attending luncheons organized with them in mind.
That Baltimore still doesn't have a manager on this, the second week of December, underscores just how early its rebuild is along and the amount of work executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias still needs to do at this early stage. Elias arrived in Las Vegas on Monday with a skeleton crew, and shortly after admitted "there is something missing" without a manager in tow. Though he'll likely fly back east without one, that's set to change shortly now that the interview phase of the O's managerial search is complete.
Elias confirmed Monday he conducted in-person interviews with six candidates over the past two weeks in Baltimore. Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol and D-backs vice president of player development Mike Bell are among the hopefuls, as well as Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde, Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond and Mariners bench coach Manny Acta, per reports.
Of the group, Redmond, Acta and Hale have MLB managing experience, and Hyde, Grifol and Bell would be first-time skippers. Elias does not plan on interviewing any additional candidates.
"I'm very confident that our manager will come from the list of candidates we've interviewed so far," Elias said. "We spent a lot of time with these people."
The question now is when. While Elias said he's currently "in the process of doing that deeper background work on the candidates," he remains "cognizant that we are a little pressed for time." He broadly earmarked a decision for before the new year.
Waiting any longer would give the Orioles less than six weeks to fill out their Major League coaching staff and finalize Minor League coaching assignments. The club still has important front office hires to make, considerable roster holes to address and plans to significantly beef up its analytics and international scouting operations.
Though most of their activity this week is expected to come on the business side, the Orioles opened the Winter Meetings with a player transaction Monday, claiming infielder Rio Ruiz on waivers from the Braves.
Right-hander Ryan Meisinger was lost to the Cardinals on a waiver claim in a corresponding move, leaving the O's 40-man roster with two vacant spots prior to Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. A Prince Frederick, Md., native, Meisinger pitched to a 6.43 ERA in 18 appearances as a rookie in 2018. He was originally an 11th-round selection by the O's in 2015.
A 24-year-old who played five positions in Atlanta's system last season, Ruiz gives Baltimore a versatile option on a roster with significant holes. Though he's played almost exclusively third base at the Major League level, Ruiz also saw time at first base and both corner outfield positions last season, when he slashed .269/.322/.390 for Triple-A Gwinnett. He is a career .189 hitter across 195 big league plate appearances, all for the Braves from 2016-18.
The move qualifies as a reunion of sorts for Ruiz and Elias, who was Houston's director of amateur scouting when the Astros drafted Ruiz in the fourth round in 2012. Ruiz was traded to Atlanta along with Mike Foltynewicz in the '15 deal that brought Evan Gattis to the Astros. Ruiz figures to be in the mix this spring for reps at third base with Renato Nunez, or at the very least will compete against other utility types Breyvic Valera and Steve Wilkerson for a bench role.
Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.