In this two-part series, I'll write about the best and the worst moves made by Orioles GM/VP Mike Elias since he took the reins in Baltimore on November 2018. Let's start off with the best.
The 5 best moves made by Orioles GM Mike Elias in his tenure in Baltimore
After a dismal 47-115 campaign in 2018, the Orioles need a new direction. GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were gone and a long rebuild looming for the new man in charge. Mike Elias, an assistant GM from Houston Astros, was chosed to kickstart this plan.
Five years later and the Orioles, coming from 108, 35* and 110-loss seasons, the rebuild came to frution last year. In 2023, Baltimore had the third-best record in MLB on June 10.
For this record, I don't put the draft choices. I only consider trades and waiver claims. Without further ado, the best moves by Mike Elias.
*2020 shortened season
5. "I'm no longer an Orioles fan"
On July 13th, 2019, the Orioles traded Andrew Cashner to the division rival Boston Red Sox. The big righty was a bright spot (9-3, 3.83 ERA, 66 K, 123 ERA+, 4.26 FIP) after a rough 2018 and after this trade, a meme was born on Orioles Twitter. Unfortunately for Cashner, he didn't play well for the Red Sox and after a 6.20 ERA plus a bullpen demotion, his MLB career was over. It's the last big league time Cashner has had.
For Baltimore, they got two 17-year-old guys from the Sox farm system: OF Elio Prado and IF Noelberth Romero. Nowadays, Prado plays for Delmarva and has had a good year in 2023 (.252/.358/.393/.750, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 33 R, 5 SB, 25:23 K:BB ratio). For Romero, he played in three levels this season and currently plays alongside Prado. Both are 21 years old now.
4. Trade partners
After the 2020 pandemic season, the Orioles made another trade with the Angels. SS Jose Iglesias, one of newcomers, went to the Halos for two pitching prospects: Jean Pinto and Garrett Stallings. Iglesias bounced to Los Angeles, Boston and Colorado. Currently, he's on a minor-league deal with San Diego.
For Baltimore, they possibly found a diamond in Pinto. The 22-year-old Venezuelan has had a great 2023 campaign (1-1, 2.78 ERA, 45.1 IP, 66 K, 1.147) after a rough 2022 season. In Birdland (and in the weekly recap posts), we all wonder when Pinto will be promoted to Double A. Stallings, the Tennessee product, has played for Bowie since 2021. He has 187 strikeouts for Baysox.
3. Massive deal
On 2019 offseason, Birdland was surprised with Elias pulled the trigger in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels. He sent Dylan Bundy to the Halos and LA sent back four minor-league pitchers: Isaac Mattson, Kyle Brnovich, Zach Peek and Kyle Bradish. Bundy, who had ups and downs in his Orioles' career, had a good 2020 campaign. After that, he didn't repeat his performances. Today, he plays for the Syracuse Mets, the Triple A team for the New York Mets.
Baltimore received a bunch of players, but this deal is third best because the best name of this group at that time, Mattson, didn't live up his Top 30 prospect status and has recently played in Indy Ball. Brnovich underwent Tommy John surgery last year. Peek had a solid track at Double A (0-3, 3.57 ERA, 45.1 IP, 40 K, 1.191 WHIP). The best player has been Bradish by a country mile, who excelled in the minors and was promoted to the majors last year, where he has remained.
2. When the opportunity came
The San Diego Padres had a crowded infield in 2021. Names like our old friend Manny Machado, the phenom Fernando Tatis Jr, the Korean star Ha-Seong Kim and the utility infielder Jake Cronenworth made the life of Jorge Mateo pretty hard. He was designated for assignment and claimed by Orioles on August 5th, 2021.
Mateo then became a sparky player who brought energy for a team who needed new faces to build a competitive team for years to come. In his Orioles' debut, he went 2-4 with a triple and played third base. Mateo finished with a .280 batting average, two Home Runs and five stolen bases. In 2022, his glove was his calling card and he won the Fielding Bible Award for the best defender in baseball. Somehow, the MLB managers didn't notice his fielding abilities. This season, he's been a mainstay at shortstop and a reliable player, especially with his gold/platinum glove.
1. On buzzer beater
The 2022 season was a turnaround after Adley's debut in May. The team was on the rising, a 10-win streak, great vibes elsewhere. At the trade deadline, Mike Elias traded one of the best players on the roster, Jorge Lopez, recently an AL All-Star, to Minnesota Twins for Cade Povich, Juan Nunez, Juan Rojas and Yennier Cano. Lopez maintained his status for high-leverage reliver in Twin Cities, but not in the closer role.
For Baltimore, Rojas is playing at Rookie Ball. Nunez was promoted to Delmarva in 2023 and he's a strikeout machine (58, 11.1 K/9). Povich had similar numbers on that category (69, 13.2 K/9) and the best so far has been Cano. The Cuban, who discovered he was traded after his wife announced a pregnancy hours before, brought the 'Dad strength' for 2023, breaking a record for consecutive batters eliminated to start a season for Baltimore. He's the guy in the eighth, because Felix Bautista take the reins in the ninth to replace... Lopez.