Orioles take care of the minor business before they get into the big business


Yesterday, a change to the 40-man roster felt like a palate cleansing before the main course. Probably the first and only time Anthony Bemboom is compared to a sorbet.

The Orioles can’t really deal with their offseason until the World Series is over. The free agent market is opening up. Executives discuss potential occupations. Decisions are made about which players are eligible for arbitration and who are protected in proposed Rule 5.

Bemboom had his contract selected yesterday from Triple-A Norfolk, preventing or delaying his dive into minor league free agency, depending on whether he remains on a currently full 40-man roster.

Pending free agents Robinson Chirinos, Rougned Odor and Jesús Aguilar will drop out of the 40-man squad, and Jordan Lyles would join them if the Orioles don’t pick up his $11 million option. John Means and Chris Ellis are to be added to the 60-day injured list, although the latter is not guaranteed to stay.

The Orioles could nominate Ellis for an assignment and try to re-sign him to a minor league deal or cut ties.

Grayson Rodriguez will headline prospects who must go 40-man or be exposed to Rule 5. Drew Rom and Joey Ortiz are also on the list.

It’s going to be one of the most exciting offseasons in many years, with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias raising expectations again this week. The team will spend, but how much is unclear. We don’t know if it’s on a smaller market scale and if the cart will be pushed through market aisles that were previously ignored.

The annual end-of-season discussion Wednesday morning in the auxiliary clubhouse confirmed that the Orioles will attempt to update the roster, which leads to a higher payroll, via signings and trades. There’s more than one way to do it, and the club is ready to inherit a bigger contract, like the Astros did when they moved past the rebuilding stage.

But again, what is the size? We don’t have an answer.

“We’re going to look at all the ways to improve our chances of making the playoffs,” Elias said, “within the budget that we’re going to be working with.”

This last part can raise hopes or eyebrows. But either way, the Orioles sound like a team that’s going to be a lot more aggressive this winter.

Elias is cautious in his responses, never wanting to put all his cards on the table for everyone to see – that can only hurt his negotiations – but this phrase stood out in a close media session. 25 minutes with manager Brandon Hyde:

“Now is the time to start making bigger investments in the major league payroll.”

The Orioles have reached a point in the rebuild where young talent is flocking to higher affiliates and spilling onto the major league roster. I’m sure that’s what it looked like on Elias’ PowerPoint presentation when he interviewed for the job. The front office must combine prospects with leftovers and external acquisitions. Determine which are gatekeepers and which could be packaged into trades.

Elias has to give up something to get the starter or big bat he desires if he strays away from free agency. Rival leaders are aware of the farming system rankings and which players might be blocked. They will want to poach.

As Elias said on Wednesday, “I think we’re going to have to (trade outlook) if we want to import trade players. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do that without sending leads.

The trick, of course, is to pick the right ones. Don’t give too much away and walk away with Glenn Davis.

Signing players only costs money, and the Orioles feel like they have more to offer beyond money. Their reputation seems repaired. They have become more desirable.

“I think it’s a very attractive free agent destination now,” Elias said. “We’re hearing great compliments from our players about the clubhouse environment that Brandon has built, how our players are improving here and have really highlighted that this year. It’s a great city, it’s is a great baseball field, it’s now a great place to pitch, and I think we’re going to have a lot of players who want to join this team.

“It was a really fun vibe all year round. The whole world got to see it. It’s the college division. You play on national TV with the lights on, and it’s also engaging, even if the competition is tough. So I think we’re going to have a lot of interest for guys who want to join this group.

The Orioles are already working out their plans through meetings that took place last month. This includes evaluating Triple-A and Double-A players who, as Elias put it, “are on the radar screen for 2023.”

“I think if you’re looking for a drastic statement on that, I don’t think we want to put ourselves in a position where we take anything for granted, and you have to be prepared for the reality that a lot of players struggle during their first major league introduction, although Adley (Rutschman) and Gunnar (Henderson) and Kyle (Stowers) have done pretty well this year,” Elias said.

“We like the fact that we have internal depth and internal options coming up, but I think it’s always helpful to have insurance not just against developmental or performance stages, but maybe against injury. .”

So here we are, following the little things as the playoffs begin tonight and waiting for the business doors to open. The Orioles will talk trade, they’ll negotiate with agents, and they’ll try to figure out which prospects are on board for liftoff.

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