BALTIMORE -- The holidays are here and with them, the Orioles' busy winter has slowed a bit, at least for the time being. What better time to tackle some burning questions in an offseason-themed inbox?
Who is Brandon Hyde tied to that could be pitching coach and bench coach? Is he known for developing a particular area? -- @markgouge
More than anything, Hyde is known for his blend of experience and leadership abilities, which are lauded across the game. Rather than a one-area guru, Hyde is seen in the industry as someone with a wide-ranging and transferable skillset -- which explains why he was up for jobs in a variety of situations this winter: From the rebuilding Rangers and O's to the Twins, postseason contenders just two seasons ago, and the Angels, who could be a dark-horse contenders in 2019.
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One rival executive who interviewed Hyde summarized him thusly: "Brandon marries tremendous baseball intelligence with exceptional experience and great relationship building skills. Brandon's experience as a player, Minor League coach, manager, Minor League coordinator, farm director and bench coach uniquely position him to be an extremely successful manager."
Time will tell who joins Hyde on staff, where he said he's looking for "player development people" to help spearhead Baltimore's rebuild at the field level. It's also possible the O's dip back into their managerial field to fill some of these positions. General manager Mike Elias met with D-backs vice president of player development Mike Bell personally in Las Vegas, and interviewed Pedro Grifol for a bench coach position years before roping Grifol into his managerial search in Baltimore. Another interesting name is Jim Hickey, who worked alongside Hyde with the Cubs before resigning in October. Hickey is considered one of the game's most talented pitching coaches.
How much control will Hyde have choosing his staff? Will Elias pick himself or is that all Hyde? -- @RipkenRanger32
Elias has repeatedly said he'll defer heavily to his manager in this regard, but Elias would certainly have final say. Hyde submitted a rough list of coaching candidates during his interview, so both sides have at least a rough idea of the types of people they'll target for their on-field staff. Actually filling out that staff could serve as a litmus test for how collaborative their relationship ends up being.
Several have asked about holdovers from last year's Orioles coaching staff, and this seems like as good a place to cover that. So far, none been retained. Here is a breakdown of where the 2018 staff stands now:
• Roger McDownell, pitching coach -- contract with O's expired, remains unsigned
• Scott Coolbaugh, hitting coach -- hired by Dodgers in December to coach at Triple-A Oklahoma City
• John Russell, bench coach -- contract with O's expired, remains unsigned
• Howie Clark, assistant hitting coach -- signed Minor League deal to remain in organization, role TBD
• Wayne Kirby, first-base coach -- contract with O's expired, remains unsigned
• Alan Mills, bullpen coach -- signed Minor League deal to remain in organization, role TBD
• Bobby Dickerson, third-base coach -- contract with O's expired, remains unsigned
• Einar Diaz, coach -- hired by Braves to coach at Triple-A Gwinnett
Would the Orioles look for a free agent lacking a strong market on a one-year-show-me type deal? -- @BookieSmalz
These are the types of deals Elias was talking about when he said he plans to be "opportunistic" later in the winter, and he could end up striking a few of them, especially on the pitching side. Hector Santiago, Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano and Bartolo Colon fit the mold, and even signing two of them would leave plenty of innings for Dillon Tate, Hunter Harvey and other prospects. On the position-player side, Austin Jackson, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and John Forsythe are just a few of the low-risk free-agent veterans who'll likely still to be available deep into the offseason.
The O's have money to spend and plenty of roster holes -- shoring them up in this fashion would benefit the 2019 team without saddling the organization with long-term commitments.
Is there any interest for Adam Jones? -- @RomeoBaltimore
This ties into the previous question, and the short answer is that it depends on how Jones' market develops. Though they're not going to make any major acquisition splashes this winter, the O's are perhaps even as unlikely to open 2019 with their current outfield alignment. Changes of some sort are coming to a unit that currently consists of Joey Rickard, Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini, with Mark Trumbo looking more like an everyday designated hitter following knee surgery. Baltimore has already explored avenues to upgrade its outfield defense via the trade market. The O's don't plan to engage the free-agent market until later in the offseason.
Whether or not Jones would be an option then remains an open question. Jones was on the scene in Las Vegas to meet with teams during the Winter Meetings, and is on record saying he's seeking two things the Orioles are unlikely to provide: a deal of at least four years and a winning environment. But at age 33 and coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, it's generous to consider Jones as in a position to dictate his market.
At this point, he's nearly sure to garner a lesser deal than the three-year, $50 million contract Andrew McCutchen signed with the Phillies. In doing so, McCutchen all but set a market for early-30s, now-corner outfielders, a group that also includes Carlos Gonzalez. A.J. Pollock and Marwin Gonzalez are also out there as younger, most versatile -- and valuable -- options.
So, is there a chance Jones and Baltimore circle back to each other? It's not impossible, and Elias has left the door open in his public comments. It's no secret that bringing Jones back would excite a fan base expecting to endure another rebuilding season in 2019. But Jones would likely have to do so on Elias' terms.