When the Orioles hired Brandon Hyde to replace Buck Showalter as manager in December 2018, the team never released the terms of Hyde’s contract. It never leaked to the press, and over 2 1/2 years into his tenure, it remains publicly unknown.
That lack of clarity figures to lead to speculation as the summer progresses, given the Orioles’ record and the relative rarity of rookie managers receiving longer than three-year deals. It is widely speculated that Hyde received a three-year contract with a fourth-year option, which would mean Hyde is currently managing on the last year of his guaranteed deal.
But for now, it’s information the Orioles prefer to keep under wraps. That’s the way it’s going to remain, at least in the short term.
“I’m not going to be the one to spill anyone’s contractual status in baseball ops,” general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias said Wednesday, when asked directly if Hyde remains under contract for 2022. “If and when it gets out, maybe I’ll comment or no comment about that. But I don’t see any benefit to me revealing the contractual status of the employees in baseball ops.”
From the time they were both hired, just several weeks apart, Elias and Hyde have been transparent about embarking on a long-term rebuild and the struggles such a strategy is bound to bring. The Orioles finished with baseball’s second-worst record in 2019, its fifth-worst in 2020 and own baseball’s second-worst record through 67 games this season. All told, Hyde is 101-188 at the helm.
“I will say that I hired Brandon,” Elias said. “We handpicked him for this job because of his skills, because of the relationship, because of his references, because of his broad perspective across baseball operations, from the dugout all the way to the Gulf Coast League and everything in between. He is a partner with us in this multi-year project. We all knew this would be a multi-year project. We knew there were going to be some rough years.
“He is not being judged on where we are in the standings in 2021. He's got a lot of interaction between staff and a lot of interaction with a lot of corners of our baseball operations departments. All of that, I couldn't be happier with. So I'm looking forward to getting back to the playoffs. And, you know, hopefully, all of us are still here together for that.”
Hyde’s experience with rebuilds -- he oversaw the Cubs’ Minor Leagues in the early 2010s, later joined the big league staff and won a World Series ring in 2016 -- was part of why he was hired to lead the rebuild in Baltimore. But if you draw the same parallel, another trend emerges. In both the Cubs and Astros’ rebuilds (which Elias helped architect), the managers that oversaw the lean years were replaced by more established skippers (A.J. Hinch in Houston, Joe Maddon in Chicago) once the big league teams grew competitive. It remains to be seen if a similar dynamic will play out in Baltimore.
“It’s hard. There is no doubt about it,” Hyde said of the losing. “I’d come from a team that was in the postseason four years in a row, and was very fortunate to be part of a winning team. I understood what this was going to be because I’ve been through that before also. It doesn’t make it any easier, though. Losing is hard. You try to think big picture as much as you possibly can, even though in the moment it’s hard to go through.
“The front office is very, very supportive. They are very aware of what we’re going through. This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to take a while, and we knew it was going to take a while. But our Minor League system is continuing to get better and some of our impact players, hopefully, are inching closer to the big leagues. That’s what it’s going to take.”