In the late fall of 2018, Mike Elias arrived in Baltimore to take over as general manager for a team that had just lost a franchise-high 115 games. His pickings were slim, the team having traded or not re-signed its notable stars.
Five years later, the team he carefully put together won 101 games, the best record in the American League. On Tuesday, Elias was honored for his efforts, winning MLB Executive of the Year, an award voted on by all 30 clubs before the start of the postseason.
Elias was also named Sporting News 2023 MLB Executive of the Year.
It took great patience from Elias, and the team, to get to this point. With his scouting background, Elias built this team by relying heavily on the draft. In 2019, his first season as general manager, Elias selected Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. The two are now the cornerstones of the franchise. A year later, Elias took Jordan Westburg and Heston Kjerstad, who both made the playoff roster in their rookie seasons.
The Orioles also had the No. 1 farm system in 2022 and 2023 and currently have the top prospect in baseball in Jackson Holliday.
Elias also used trades both big and small to build the team, from a five-player exchange in 2019 that brought back No. 1 starter Kyle Bradish to a seemingly minor move in early 2023 to acquire Ryan O’Hearn for cash considerations. O’Hearn went on to have a breakout season and became a fixture in the Orioles’ lineup.
Behind the scenes, Elias also expanded the Orioles’ analytics department and helped launch the franchise’s Dominican Academy, which is expected to open in 2024.
This could be the start of a busy award season for the Orioles, as infielder Henderson and manager Brandon Hyde are finalists for AL Rookie of the Year and AL Manager of the Year. They will be announced on Nov. 13 and 14. The Orioles also have three Silver Slugger finalists: Rutschman, Anthony Santander and Henderson. That award, which recognizes the best offensive player at each position, will be announced on Thursday.