It’s been a long three years for Orioles fans, who’ve watched their team win just 176 games—the second-fewest in baseball—since the start of the 2017 season. General manager Mike Elias didn’t take over until November 2018, but he’s further guided the team through a rebuild that’s continued into this offseason and reduced their chances of contending in 2020 to slim-to-none.
The Orioles have made two significant moves this winter and both have taken removed talent from their major-league roster rather than add it. Baltimore traded shortstop Jonathan Villar, who represented one of their best position players last season, to the Miami Marlins two days before sending starting pitcher Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels for four prospects.
It was frustrating for a fan base that hasn’t seen its team win just one playoff series over the last 22 seasons. In an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas, Elias stressed they were difficult decisions to make but also the right decisions that helped “put us in a better spot for when we’re ready to compete the way we want to compete.”
“When you trade somebody like Bundy or Jonathan Villar, you are taking away from the major-league team and the major-league team needs help right now,” Elias said. “But we have a goal and a vision in mind of getting our team back to a playoff caliber and being able to stay at that level and in order to do that we have to build the foundation of the organization first and that starts in the minor leagues.”
Elias said he’s heard the complaints from fans about how long the rebuild is taking but hopes they trust the team will be capable of sustained success once the process is complete.
“I think, on the whole, people understand that there is a necessity for our organization to reposition ourselves, reorganize ourselves, build our minor leagues to be elite,” Elias said. “Without that, we’re not going to be able to go very far for very long and that’s what fans want to see. I share their frustrations with how long something like this takes.”
For now, the Orioles’ sights are set toward the future.
“It will be worth it when we get through it and this is what we have to do right now,” Elias said.
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