When the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel, they crossed off half of their winter to-do list.

Nashville, Tennessee — On Monday and Tuesday, the hotel room was a mess. By Wednesday, it was pretty empty. The Orioles’ front office stood at a table early this week and looked at the free agency and trade market. The table was empty. Mike Elias had his bags ready.

the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel

The Orioles finished their first big task at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center on Wednesday evening, as the winter meetings came to an end.

They agreed to sign right-hander Craig Kimbrel for one year, with an option for another year in 2025. It’s the biggest deal Elias has made since he became general manager of the Orioles in 2018. It guarantees $13 million. While most people were waiting for Shohei Ohtani to make a choice, Baltimore became known as the team that spent the most money, but that didn’t last long.

Elias said with a smile, “We’ve won the biggest free agent deal so far.” This was before it was reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks had agreed to terms with left-handed reliever Eduardo Rodriguez. “I hope that was on everyone’s bingo card.”

But that’s just the beginning.

the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel

When the Orioles signed Kimbrel, a nine-time All-Star who will replace Félix Bautista, they crossed off one of their two main winter goals. But the Orioles also want to improve their rotation. As they leave Nashville and head back to Baltimore, the rest of their winter to-do list becomes clear.

A closer has been found. They are now going for a starter.

Elias said, “I’m very happy with the timing.” “We don’t push this stuff while we’re here, but it’s nice to find one of our big wish lists under the tree when we get home.”

After the season ended, Elias said he first talked to Kimbrel’s agent. Once the deal was settled on Monday night, Elias said having two days at the winter meetings to focus on other things was helpful.

the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel

There are still a lot of great players available, but Rodriguez and the Diamondbacks agreed to a four-year deal worth about $80 million, according to ESPN on Thursday night. Still, the Seattle Mariners want to trade for right-hander Dylan Cease, who could fit in a number of different roles in their rotation. Baltimore might want to get Blake Snell, a left-hander who is in the running for the Cy Young Award and will cost a lot when he hits the open market.

Elias said, “We were able to turn our attention to this huge market of starting pitcher options and chip away at that.” He also said that they’ve made progress on a deal, even though nothing is close.

Elias said, “Progress in the sense that we’re getting a lot of information here and making progress in the talks.” “Not that we’re closer to a deal, but that we have a better idea of what the deal’s possibilities are right now. We’re just moving the ball down the field a couple of yards at a time, which sounds pretty simple but is actually a lot of work in this business.”

There are a lot of talks going back and forth between you and the agents and teams. It’s a big puzzle that you’re trying to put together, and the winter meetings help with that.”

the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel

At least one of the two big pieces is in place, so half of the problem is done.

Elias said he is open to adding more depth to the bullpen, and he might look for an outfielder who hits right-handed. But for the Orioles, the two most important things were a relief for the late innings and a starter. And since a lot of the summer was still to come, Baltimore built a strong base.




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