BALTIMORE (AP) — With a good deal of caution, Mike Elias indicated that yes, the Baltimore Orioles would like to pursue contract extensions for some of their top young players.
Whether the general manager can pull that off is just one lingering question as the AL East champions head into the offseason.
“We are very focused on keeping this organization as successful and healthy as possible, within the constraints of reality,” Elias said. “Obviously, we have players here that we love … and part of the calculus of keeping this franchise healthy is pursuing or examining opportunities to possibly keep some of these guys longer.”
Elias and manager Brandon Hyde met with reporters Thursday, two days after Baltimore was eliminated by Texas in the AL Division Series. The 101-win Orioles have a roster full of talented young players with plenty of team control, but they can try to be proactive about extensions for standouts like second-year catcher Adley Rutschman and rookie shortstop Gunnar Henderson.
It’s not uncommon for teams to reach long-term deals with players well before they hit free agency, in a way that offers financial security for the player and cost certainty — plus a longer contract term — for the team.
“We quietly work on this in the background,” Elias said. “I don’t want to be the one now talking about it, but obviously that’s a part of our job as a front office.”
The question is of particular significance because the Orioles rank 29th in payroll, and in an August piece in the New York Times, Orioles chairman John Angelos seemed to raise doubts about keeping the team’s young core together.
“When people talk about giving this player $200 million, that player $150 million, we would be so financially underwater that you’d have to raise the prices massively,” Angelos was quoted as saying.
Since then, Baltimore won its division and announced a deal with the state keeping the Orioles at Camden Yards another 30 years. On Thursday, Elias was asked about Angelos’ comments as they relate to extensions for young stars.
“Speaking from personal experience, I think sometimes when you stand somewhere and talk to the media and try to say things and have them be interesting for 40 minutes, things don’t come out exactly how you meant them,” Elias said. “Especially little snippets of what you said.”
Elias was very reticent about specific players and team needs going forward, preferring to look more at the season that just ended. He does seem aware that the Orioles might have a surplus of young players who can’t all play at once.
“It’s all I think about every day of my life,” Elias said, drawing a laugh. “I’m not wanting to talk about it. I think I want to reflect on 2023, promise everybody and the fans that we’re keeping our foot on the gas pedal for keeping Baltimore baseball great and having an even better season next year. Especially in the postseason, to whatever degree we can control that.”
Although star closer Félix Bautista will be out for a while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Elias said he’s not aware of any other significant new injury concerns for the offseason. Left-hander John Means is apparently OK after he was left off the ALDS roster.
“His elbow just kind of barked at an unfortunate time for him, but we’ve gotten it looked at,” Elias said. “He’s going to be fine.”
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