Elias says he’s will­ing to lis­ten to any trades

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jon Me­oli

Orioles ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent/gen­eral man­ager Mike Elias set the stage Thurs­day in his ap­pear­ance on the team-spon­sored Hot Stove Ra­dio Show on 105.7 The Fan for an off­sea­son in which the team’s top ar­bi­tra­tion-el­i­gi­ble play­ers will face un­cer­tain fu­tures, be­gin­ning at next week’s gen­eral man­ager meet­ings.

Elias said the Orioles will be lis­ten­ing to of­fers on even play­ers they ex­pect to keep — and he counts right fielder Trey Mancini as some­one who he ex­pects to stay in Baltimore — in an ef­fort to keep the main fo­cus of try­ing to inject the mi­nor league prospect base with more tal­ent.

“If some­body calls and ex­presses in­ter­est in your play­ers, some guys are more avail­able than oth­ers,” Elias said. “But we def­i­nitely need to bring in tal­ent from all an­gles pos­si­ble, and if there are play­ers on this team — and there are — that other teams like and feel like they could help them, and we feel like what­ever’s com­ing back is go­ing to el­e­vate the tide of tal­ent in the or­ga­ni­za­tion, we’re go­ing to have to think about it.”

Chief among those play­ers who could be on the block are in­fielder Jonathan Vil­lar, re­liever My­chal Givens and even Mancini — all the big names the Orioles held onto at last July’s trade dead­line. Vil­lar, in par­tic­u­lar, is due an ar­bi­tra­tion raise to $10.4 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to MLB Trade Ru­mors’ pro­jec­tions. Dy­lan Bundy and Mancini are pro­jected to make $5.7 mil­lion, and Givens comes in next at $3.2 mil­lion. Hanser Al­berto, Richard Bleier and Miguel Cas­tro are also en­ter­ing their first year of ar­bi­tra­tion.

“We have a large ar­bi­tra­tion class,” Elias said. “There’s seven guys, and they’re good play­ers, but there is money in­volved. You’ve got to take it into con­sid­er­a­tion, and it may in­flu­ence the de­ci­sion whether or not to ten­der a con­tract in the first place, but also your thresh­old for trad­ing those guys if there’s in­ter­est else­where. That’s part of run­ning any busi­ness, and that’s part of re­al­ity. Money and bud­gets are a huge part of our busi­ness.”

Vil­lar’s par­tic­u­larly high price tag will be ex­ac­er­bated by the fact that he’s one year away from free agency, mean­ing the Orioles can only re­ally flip him for value in the off­sea­son be­fore he be­comes a July rental next sum­mer.

“We only have one more year of con­trol of him, whether he ends up stay­ing be­yond that, I don’t know,” Elias said. “But cer­tainly with where we’re at as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, we’ve got to en­ter­tain things with all these guys and take the long-term view of the club in mind.”

The pref­er­ence for these ar­bi­tra­tionel­i­gi­ble play­ers would be to get play­ers in re­turn for trades, pre­sum­ably, and that’s why Elias will go the gen­eral man­ager meet­ings start­ing Nov. 11 in Ari­zona with an open ear. Mancini seems to be safe, even if the rest aren’t.

“We love hav­ing him,” Elias said. “We ex­pect him to stay here. I think that he’s per­fect for what we’re try­ing to do, the type of player, the type of per­son that we want. He’s great for this town, but as I said, we have to lis­ten when peo­ple come our way with ideas.”

Should noth­ing come of those dis­cus­sions, then the team needs to take the pro­jected pay­outs into mind and de­cide whether to ten­der a con­tract or let a player be­come a free agent.

Asked if he ex­pected play­ers to be non-ten­dered, Elias said he “can’t say for cer­tain with that.”

“No. 1, they can af­fect one an­other,” Elias said. “If we feel that we’re go­ing to be keep­ing one player and we know — we don’t even know what these prices are right now. With­out get­ting into the bor­ing sub­ject of how ar­bi­tra­tion works, we don’t know ex­actly what these guys are go­ing to be com­mand­ing next year. You have to fac­tor in dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios and that could af­fect other guys in the arb class, or whether we end up trad­ing one of these play­ers might en­able us to pos­si­bly keep an­other. There’s been no spe­cific de­ter­mi­na­tion on any of them.”

The last day to ten­der a con­tract to a player is Dec. 2.

Cold stove com­ing

Re­it­er­at­ing what he said in his sea­so­nend­ing com­ments, Elias made it clear that the Orioles weren’t go­ing to be spend­ing big to im­prove their pitch­ing staff — or any part of the ros­ter — ahead of next year in free agency, at least in terms of help­ing the ma­jor league team.

“We need to have a deep pitch­ing staff in terms of op­tions. That doesn’t mean nec­es­sar­ily that we’re go­ing to be shop­ping at the top of the mar­ket by any sense, but we want to have more depth than we went into last year in the event that in­juries oc­cur, that we can pro­tect our young pitch­ing prospects who will be com­ing up. But we’re still in the mode of adding tal­ent to this or­ga­ni­za­tion, of pump­ing the mi­nor leagues full of tal­ent as we can. That’s go­ing to be the pri­mary goal. Even though we’re short pitch­ing, we’ve got to keep that in mind from a strate­gic stand­point and not lose sight of that, even if there’s some short-term cost.”

Elias did say, how­ever, that the team would try and add qual­ity ma­jor league de­fen­sive short­stop depth while ac­knowl­edg­ing that that’s also in de­mand and might be hard to se­cure.

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