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Birdland Caravan: Orioles GM Mike Elias on free agents, infield prospects, Grayson Rodriguez and more

After three years off because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Orioles kicked off their first Birdland Caravan, a replacement for FanFest, since 2020 on Thursday with a fan rally at Bel Air High School.

During the question and answer segment with fans, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said that the Orioles are still in the market to add to their major league roster before or during spring training. So far this offseason, Elias has added starting pitchers Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin, reliever Mychal Givens, catcher James McCann and second baseman Adam Frazier.

“We’re still working on stuff. I can’t predict, and there’s not a ton of free agents left, especially premier ones,” Elias said. “It’s very possible that we sign another major league free agent before we head to camp. We also might do things during camp.”

Elias and manager Brandon Hyde took several questions from fans during the kickoff event on topics ranging from the team’s top-ranked farm system to pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez to the league’s new balanced schedule.

Here are the most interesting topics Elias and Hyde discussed during Thursday’s Q&A:

Infield prospects

Elias was asked about the Orioles’ stockpile of middle infield prospects, and he said the team having “too many shortstops” is the “least of his worries.”

“I think we’ve got three great middle infield prospects right now in Triple-A: Connor Norby, who’s primarily a second baseman; Jordan Westburg, who could play really all of the spots; and Joey Ortiz, who is a defensive wizard kind of shortstop,” Elias said. “We’re really excited about all of them. It’s a great problem to have too many shortstops or too many middle infielders.”

In January, the Orioles traded from that infield depth in the farm system to acquire left-handed starting pitcher Cole Irvin from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for 21-year-old shortstop prospect Darell Hernaiz.

Grayson Rodriguez

Elias has said several times this offseason that he expects Rodriguez to break camp in the Orioles’ starting rotation, and he reiterated that sentiment Thursday.

“We can’t wait to see him in spring training,” Elias said. “… It will be really exciting for us to see him out there in Sarasota. I’m really pulling for him to be in the rotation when we break camp.”

But could the team’s top pitching prospect start the Orioles’ first game of the season on March 30 against the Red Sox?

“Will Grayson be our opening day starter? We’ll have to wait and see,” Hyde said. “It’s nice with this year we have a lot of guys to choose from. We have some veteran guys, Dean Kremer had a nice year last year, [Kyle] Bradish has really good stuff, Tyler Wells pitched extremely well. I think we’re going to let Grayson kind of pitch in spring training, and we’re going to make the decision with what we’re going to do with him when camp breaks.”

Trevor Bauer

A fan asked Elias whether the team was considering signing starting pitcher Trevor Bauer.

Bauer, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since June 2021, is a free agent after being reinstated by the league’s independent arbitrator this offseason. The 32-year-old right-hander was put on administrative leave for the last half of the 2021 season and then suspended for all of 2022 for violating the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy after a San Diego woman accused him of sexually abusing her. Bauer has denied the allegation.

“You know, I’m actually not able to answer that,” Elias said. “It’s against major league rules to talk about whether or not we’re interested in any free agent, and he’s no different. So I can’t answer.”

Balanced schedule

The Orioles will play fewer games against American League East opponents in 2023 thanks to the league’s new balanced schedule. All 30 teams will play each other this season, meaning the Orioles will play only 52 games against the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays instead of the 76 times they played those teams in previous seasons.

Does Hyde like the change?

“I think we’re excited to have that balanced schedule,” Hyde said. “Our division is extremely challenging, four really good other clubs that are extremely talented. But to be able to play everybody, I’m really looking forward to that. To be able to see everybody, I think it’s going to be valuable for fans as well as for us.”

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Source: Berkshire mont

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