Breaking down the O's front-office changes
Last week's hiring of Koby Perez to lead the Orioles' international scouting department marked an important point in this offseason of overhaul in Baltimore. The months to come will be filled with more additions, mostly of the behind-the-scenes variety, with the club planning to reel hordes of analysts, scouts and other staffers into its growing operation.
But three months after the contracts of Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter were not renewed, the turnover in the executive ranks, at least for the time being, appears to be complete. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias confirmed as much last week, characterizing the front office as "fully operational" with six weeks to go until Spring Training. In all, nearly a dozen officials employed at the start of last spring are no longer with the club.
So who's left? And who's new?
To start, Elias doesn't plan on immediately targeting outside talent to replace Brian Graham or Gary Rajsich atop the club's scouting and player development departments. Graham had been with the organization for 11 years, and handled day-to-day operations on an interim basis following Duquette's exit before Elias' hiring in November, while Rajsich had served as scouting director since 2011. Both were dismissed late last year.
• Orioles' front office
At that time, Brad Ciolek and Kent Qualls were quietly promoted to head those departments on an interim basis. They'll continue to do so until further notice while reporting directly to Elias, who's pledged to have "an extra level of personal involvement this year" in those areas.
"We were brought here [from the Astros] primarily for scouting and player development purposes," Elias said during the Winter Meetings. "I think we have among the best track records in the industry in this regard. We are here to implement a lot of the processes and techniques that brought us that success, and import these practices to the Orioles."
Translation: Ciolek becomes Elias' point man to run the Draft, while Qualls supervises the Orioles' farm system. Though the 36-year-old Elias would ultimately be responsible for overseeing it all anyway, he'll utilize a particularly hands-on approach given the O's transitional state.
Not only does the arrangement give the first-year general manager as much responsibility as perhaps any executive in the sport, it means the Orioles will embark on their rebuild behind one of the most skeletal -- and inexperienced -- front offices in baseball. This is the first time any of the top three ranking members in the O's leadership structure -- Elias, assistant GM of analytics Sig Mejdal and manager Brandon Hyde -- have held such elevated posts in their careers.
Mejdal followed Elias from Houston to build the club's data department, but numbers won't be his only focus. Mejdal will be responsible for adding manpower and infrastructure in the analytics sphere, he'll be heavily involved in the Draft, and he'll carry significant long-term decision-making influence. Effectively, Mejdal will function as Elias' second in command.
Hyde, that pair's first hire, emerged from a field of six managerial candidates, largely because of his extensive background in player development. He'll work closely with Elias to apply that experience at the big league level, and his voice will carry significant weight when it comes to the day-to-day personnel decisions. Hyde will also work closely with the Triple-A manager, once one is hired/assigned.
Perez is the only addition to the scouting department thus far, and he'll report directly to Elias. Chris Holt was imported from Houston to serve as Minor League pitching coordinator.
As for other holdovers, fans often inquire about Brady Anderson's status with the team. He remains employed, though he's unlikely to hold as influential a role as he did under the previous regime. Anderson's title -- vice president of baseball operations -- is subject to change, and his exact duties are to be determined.
Elias has indicated that Mike Snyder (director of Pacific Rim operations and baseball development) will assume more exalted roles in the scouting department, while director of baseball operations Tripp Norton already has in baseball ops. Norton and Qualls handled the Major and Minor League portions of the Rule 5 Draft in December.