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. After covering the best moves, let's look at the worst.
The 5 worst 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 chosen 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 releases. Without further ado, the worst moves by Mike Elias.
*2020 shorthanded season
5. Not protected
In the blockbuster trade with Dodgers that sent Manny Machado to Los Angeles, Baltimore received five prospects in the deal. One of them was Zach Pop, a reliever with a great career in the minor leagues. In 2019, he finished with a 0.84 ERA for Bowie. He then ended up needed Tommy John surgery and with the 2020 pandemic, he didn't play until 2021.
But, in December 2020, in the Rule 5 draft, Elias didn't protect this player and Arizona took him with the fifth overall pick and immediately dealt him to Miami. His MLB debut was in 2021 for the Marlins and he played one-and-a-half seasons before he was traded to Toronto. He finished his 2022 campaign with a 1.89 ERA in 17 games. Even with a down year in 2023, we would've loved to see him suceed in the Orioles' bullpen.
4. Not ideal
During the 2020 season, Baltimore made two trades that dealt two relievers from Dan Duquette era. One of them its back in 2023 (Mychal Givens), but the other, Miguel Castro, had a different story. The sinkerballer was traded to the New York Mets for LHP Kevin Smith, a top 30 prospect from NY, and IF Victor Gonzalez. Castro bounced to the Bronx and nowadays he's the Arizona Diamondbacks' closer.
The Orioles didn't hit a Home Run here. Gonzalez had a slow start in Rookie Ball and he's on Delmarva's roster without great numbers. The worst happened with Smith. He had a glimpse of hope to be a pitcher for the next great Orioles team. But since he was promoted to Norfolk, he struggled with walks. In 2022, the Orioles removed him from the 40-man roster and nobody claimed. He's no longer in the organization.
3. Another bullpen piece
When Kevin Gausman and Darren O'Day were traded to Atlanta in 2018, one of the prospects who come to Baltimore was Evan Phillips. A righty who made his MLB debut that year was a presence in the Orioles bullpen from 2018 to 2020. The team wasn't built to be a contender, but Phillips wasn't the worst pitcher on MLB level. He was released after 2020.
Since then, he played for Tampa Bay and two weeks later, the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed from waivers. He blossomed in the Dodgers bullpen and after Kenley Jansen's departure, he took the closer role. He's better than Voth, amirite?
2. What if?
A 14th-round-pick in 2013 draft, Mike Yastrzemski was a solid outfielder who had a chance to play in the majors for the Orioles with the new regime. His counterparts were Dwight Smith Jr, Stevie Wilkerson, Trey Mancini (one of his best friends), Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart, Joey Rickard, Keon Broxton, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Mason Williams and Drew Jackson. At that time, only Mancini was a solid player.
Mike Elias decided to trade Yaz to San Francisco Giants for Tyler Herb. The righty didn't reach the majors in his career and he was released after 2020. He's on the Milwaukee Brewers Triple A team, the Nashville Sounds. For Yaz, the founded a home in another black and orange uniform. What if he continued in Orioles colors?
1. That hurts
The big free agent in 2018 offseason, Alex Cobb was the best acquisition to keep the Orioles' playoff window, open for a little longer. For the record, Cobb is the last player who Baltimore gave a multi-year deal to. In three seasons, Cobb didn't live the expectations and had a strange stat: all his Orioles' wins were on the road.
For salary dump reasons, he was traded for the Elias' favorite trade partner, the Los Angeles Angels, for Jahmai Jones. The infielder brought a lot discussion if Baltimore didn't promote him to majors in 2021, but he didn't play well. He underwent Tommy John surgery and Baltimore released him. He's in the Dodgers organization now. For Cobb, he regained confidence and his best baseball was back with Joe Maddon and the Halos. He signed a 2 year/$20 million deal with SF on 2021 with a team option for 2024.