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Inbox: What new faces will join Orioles?

Beat reporter Joe Trezza answers Baltimore fans' questions
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

Hello, Birdland! This is Joe Trezza, your new Orioles beat writer for MLB.com.

If you haven't heard, I'll be on the beat going forward in place of Brittany Ghiroli, who did a great job covering the team over the past nine seasons. Thank you for all who reached out and were so welcoming on social media this past week. I look forward to getting to know as many of you as possible in the months to come, whether it's online, at FanFest, at the ballpark, wherever.

Hello, Birdland! This is Joe Trezza, your new Orioles beat writer for MLB.com.

If you haven't heard, I'll be on the beat going forward in place of Brittany Ghiroli, who did a great job covering the team over the past nine seasons. Thank you for all who reached out and were so welcoming on social media this past week. I look forward to getting to know as many of you as possible in the months to come, whether it's online, at FanFest, at the ballpark, wherever.

You fans are the reason the O's, my job and this Inbox even exist, and your reputation precedes you as some of the best fans in baseball. My goal is to be a constant resource for you, and to keep Orioles.com as your premier place for all things bird-related. There will be lots of new faces in Baltimore this year, and I'm terribly excited to be one of them.

Submit a question to the Inbox

Now, on to this transition-themed Inbox, timed with next week's Winter Meetings in mind.

What's the buzz about the hiring of our new manager? Any names?
-- Chuck McElhose, @Rev17CS

Earlier this week, I outlined what we know so far about the Orioles' managerial search, which they're keeping as secret as possible. The O's are reportedly planning to interview at least six candidates, with varying levels of experience and a range of backgrounds.

Nats bench coach Chip Hale and Royals catching/quality control coach Pedro Grifol were expected to get first-round interviews this week, according to sources, while reports have also linked D-backs executive Mike Bell and Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde to the opening. Given the search's early stages, there is an expectation around the club that the team's brass will likely land in Las Vegas on Sunday without a manager yet in place.

The front-runner is also unclear at this point. Though the Orioles are rumored to prefer a candidate with some big league managing experience, that's not considered a deal breaker in their decision-making. It's important to remember where new GM Mike Elias and his top lieutenant Sig Mejdal come from: both were groomed in the ultra-progressive Astros front office, which did daring things like try Mejdal, a top data analyst, in a Minor League dugout role last season. I wouldn't be surprised to see them ultimately take a risk here, maybe on a young, analytically-minded skipper they believe can develop with the club's on-field talent, like the Rays did with Kevin Cash in 2015.

Video: Elias on past mistakes making him a better O's GM

What players could the O's be targeting with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft?
-- Robbie, @robbiejames23

We'll have a more comprehensive rundown of the club's possible targets closer to the Rule 5 Draft, which will close out the Winter Meetings on Dec. 13. But expect the Orioles to be active.

There is simply little reason for them not to use their No. 1 Rule 5 Draft pick at this point. Add in the fact that the number of high-upside prospects typically exceeds the number that can be protected each year, it's likely the O's could see value in committing to a few for 2019.

Video: Mike Elias discusses coaching staff, Rule 5 Draft

I'm just speculating here, but keep an eye out for Twins lefty Tyler Jay (Minnesota's No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline), Astros righty Riley Ferrell (No. 17 on Houston's list) and Cardinals righty Junior Fernandez (St. Louis' No. 14 prospect). On the position player side, Rays second baseman Kean Wong and Brewers first baseman Jake Gatewood are available and considered big league ready.

What are the chances Chris Davis returns to form?
-- Danny Kamen, @Chevrolet_Z28

Depends on your definition of "returns to form." Are you hoping Davis revives into the 4.2 Wins Above Replacement player he was, on average, from 2013-16? Or the American League MVP Award candidate he was at his '13 peak? Because those days are likely gone.

That said, I do think it's inevitable Davis will improve on his 2018 season, when there was clearly something systemically wrong with the former slugger. He didn't only become unplayable offensively, his speed (per Statcast™) and defensive metrics regressed considerably. Sometimes, these types of statistical collapses come with a psychological component, and last season clearly weighed on Davis mentally. Though his best days are behind him, '19 should provide something of a fresh start. New rules limiting defensive shifts -- which the league is rumored to be considering -- would help, too.

Video: Chris Davis on his preparation for 2019 season

Welcome to the Charm City! Is it possible that for the right price the O's would consider re-signing Jonathan Schoop?
-- Frank Hart, @FrankAH3

Thanks, Frank! That "right price" part is the important. The Orioles were unwilling to give Tim Beckham a raise through arbitration, and Schoop would also have likely earned a raise on his $8.5 million salary. Schoop's leverage is gone now after being non-tendered, so it's possible he could come back to Baltimore on a short-term deal with the hopes of reclaiming some earning power.

The second-base market is flooded, and if they feel comfortable moving Jonathan Villar to short, I expect the O's to target a veteran-type on the lower end of it. That could mean eyeing Schoop, Ian Kinsler, Logan Forsythe or someone else in that mold.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop