Elias named Executive of the Year after O's 101-win season

November 8th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- On Feb. 3, Mike Elias stood on the sixth floor of the warehouse at Camden Yards in front of a contingent of local media. The Orioles’ general manager, who was preparing to enter his fifth season at the helm, made a proclamation at his news conference that day.

A new era of Baltimore baseball was beginning.

“I believe that our rebuild is behind us,” Elias said at the time. “We’ve got an incredible chance to be a very, very competitive team for years.”

Elias was right -- the post-rebuild Orioles won 101 games during the 2023 season, capturing their first American League East title since ‘14. The 40-year-old GM has the club positioned for long-term success, too. And for all of that, he has been given a distinguished honor.

At the General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday, Elias was named the recipient of MLB’s 2023 Executive of the Year Award. Each of the 30 clubs cast a vote prior to the start of the postseason, which featured Baltimore for the first time since ‘16.

Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos was the runner-up, while D-backs GM Mike Hazen finished third. Elias is the first O’s executive to receive the honor, which was first awarded at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

"It's a huge compliment. It's a very talented, accomplished, intelligent group of people, so to be recognized by them and amongst them is really meaningful," Elias told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand at the GM Meetings on Tuesday. "I think it's nice for our front office and our Orioles organization to get that recognition, because we weren't relevant for a few years there. So it's really cool for our team to get all this positive attention right now."

When Elias was hired as the Orioles' general manager on Nov. 16, 2018 -- and then brought on Brandon Hyde as manager about a month later -- he knew there was a lot of work to do. The team was coming off an ‘18 campaign in which it went 47-115, and the farm system didn’t have a ton of top-level talent coming through the pipeline.

It would be a tall task for Elias, a native of Alexandria, Va., who had never previously served as a GM. He had worked in the Astros’ front office from 2012-18, which included a stint as assistant general manager from 2016-18. Elias also won a World Series title with Houston in ‘17.

Baltimore struggled at the big league level over Elias’ first three years, going 131-253 from 2019-21. But he and his front-office staff -- which includes assistant GMs Sig Mejdal and Eve Rosenbaum -- excelled at replenishing the organization’s farm system.

In Elias’ first MLB Draft at the helm in 2019, he took catcher with the No. 1 overall pick. The Orioles also came away with infielder , who was selected at No. 42 in the second round. Both have played instrumental roles in Baltimore’s turnaround the past two years.

After a 52-110 showing in 2021, the Orioles went 83-79 in ‘22, Rutschman’s rookie season and a year that also featured Henderson’s debut. With the two youngsters having arrived in the big leagues -- and with a burgeoning core around them -- Baltimore entered ‘23 with high expectations.

This year, the O’s ended up with the top record in the AL for the first time since 1997, posting a 101-61 regular-season mark that ranked as the fifth best in team history. Baltimore was the top seed in the AL for the postseason and advanced directly to the AL Division Series, where it was swept in three games by eventual World Series champion Texas.

The future could be even brighter for Elias’ Orioles. Their farm system continues to be regarded among the best in baseball, and 19-year-old shortstop Jackson Holliday -- the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft -- is waiting in the wings.

Holliday has joined Rutschman and Henderson as prospects to be ranked No. 1 overall by MLB Pipeline during Elias’ tenure.

While having success in the amateur Draft, Elias has also helped Baltimore become more established in the international market. The Orioles are getting closer to opening a new state-of-the-art training academy in Guerra, Dominican Republic. Also, the club’s No. 5 prospect, catcher Samuel Basallo, was signed out of the D.R. in January 2021.

Baltimore has made tremendous growth under Elias, but his primary objective remains leading the O’s to a World Series championship. Their next title would be the fourth in franchise history and the first since 1983.