LAS VEGAS -- A funny thing happened to new Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias Dec. 11 while he was trying to convince a roomful of reporters that he had not yet finalized a decision on a manager.
A television on the opposite wall was busy scrolling the news across the bottom of the screen: "Orioles will announce Brandon Hyde as new manager."
Elias was practically mid-sentence when the message was drawn to his attention. "It's a premature report," he said, without elaborating, but likewise not denying.
Hyde's hiring had been widely speculated during the second day of baseball's annual winter meetings, but when asked at the start of his briefing session if he had hired a manager, Elias replied firmly: "No."
He said the search had been narrowed from a list of six, but he didn't anticipate a hiring before the meetings concluded. Asked if he thought there was an advantage to keeping his search "close to the vest," Elias replied: "I don't see any advantage to not keeping it close to the vest."
Eventually the message being told by the television on the wall took over the conversation, leading Elias to quip, "I guess next time we better turn off the television."
Elias did not waver from his earlier declaration that a deal had not been done, and he wouldn't comment on whether he had talked to Hyde during the day and stuck to his statement that "it was a premature report," which of course did little to curtail any speculation. He also reiterated that it was highly unlikely a deal would be completed before the Orioles' contingent leaves Las Vegas Dec. 14.
Though his major league experience is limited to one game as an interim manager (a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays while working for the Florida Marlins in 2011), the 45-year old Hyde seems to fit just about all of Elias' requirements. He most recently served as first base coach (2015-2017) and bench coach (2014 and 2018) for the Chicago Cubs.
Before his most recent coaching stint, Hyde served as the director of player development for the Cubs from 2012-2013. He had been considered this year for the managing job by the Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins after reportedly turning down a coaching offer from the Mets after the 2017 season, when the Cubs promoted him from first base to bench coach.
Should Hyde end up with the Orioles it will be the second straight year Cubs manager Joe Maddon lost his bench coach -- and both would be working on opposite ends of the 295 corridor. Dave Martinez left to become manager of the Washington Nationals last year.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox