BALTIMORE — Speaking on a Zoom call from Sarasota, Fla. on the eve of his team's season opener, Mike Elias said he views this upcoming season as one of importance, aspiration and hope.
The Orioles general manager thinks his club is on the cusp.
"This is a team that I believe is very close to getting back in the fight," he said.
Not many others around baseball believe the same.
The O’s are the favorite to finish with the worst record in the majors. Elias realizes it’s an uphill climb for the Birds.
"We recognize what we’re up against to sneak into a playoff spot this year. That is going to be very challenging," he said.
That's because their opening day roster, finalized on Thursday, lacks the depth needed to compete in the bigs, not to mention the American League east division.
For Elias, entering his fourth season with the O’s, it has never been entirely about immediate big league wins. It has always been about rebuilding with prospects on the farm to compete long-term.
Your 2022 Opening Day roster ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/zLiB1x9eGv— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 7, 2022
"Now we’re in a position, despite the struggles we’ve been through at the major league level, despite the youth and lack of established players on our roster, that we have a talented major league roster with a lot of players that have their careers in front of them and we’re sitting on top of the best minor league system in baseball and those players are getting closer and closer to joining Camden Yards," said Elias.
One of those players is catcher Adley Rutschman. He is still rehabbing a strained triceps. Elias said the O’s top prospect is continuing on a quote “smooth, upward path."
Elias added that the team is working on a minor league deal with pitcher Matt Harvey, who led Baltimore with 28 starts last season. The 33-year-old had some off-field drama in February. He was a witness in the trial of Eric Kay, the former Angels employee convicted of distributing opioids to pitcher Tyler Skaggs which led to his overdose death in 2019. Harvey admitted to also giving Percocet pills to Skaggs when they were teammates that year.
Elias said it’s a “very unique situation” with Harvey right now but one that shouldn’t prevent him from having another chance with the organization.