It sort of became a running joke around the Baltimore Orioles whenever Brandon Hyde would mention his years with the Chicago Cubs. As the farm director for Theo Epstein’s front office and a member of Joe Maddon’s major-league coaching staff, Hyde became a trusted, steady voice during the rebuilding phase and the World Series window. Hyde used that as a springboard to take over an Orioles team that lost 115 games during the 2018 season and faced a daunting climb in the American League East.
“When Hyder got the job in Baltimore, he’d reference Chicago a pretty good amount,” Trey Mancini said. “He loved it here so much, to where we were like, ‘We know Chicago’s great, but you’re here now.’ But now that I’m here, I get it.
“In all seriousness, he spoke so highly of the organization, the personnel, and everything about the way it’s run. He’s spot-on. I don’t know if I could possibly have enjoyed it any more than I have up to this point. It’s such a great group of guys. The staff’s incredible. It’s been a really great experience. I definitely know what he was talking about.”
So who’s next? Or is this it? The Cubs aren’t necessarily done adding to their major-league camp, nor are they that desperate to sign a left-handed reliever at this point. Mancini’s two-year, $14 million contract reflected several recurring themes as Jed Hoyer’s baseball operations group reconstructed the roster over the winter: payroll flexibility for the future; versatility (as a first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter); major-league experience; and clubhouse intangibles.
Zack Britton would check a lot of those boxes, too. Mancini made his major-league debut at Camden Yards near the end of the 2016 season, which saw Britton notch 47 saves and finish fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Britton is obviously no longer that pitcher at the age of 35; otherwise he would have already reported to spring training. But Britton has pitched in the playoffs for the Orioles and the New York Yankees and would come with an excellent reputation as a leader.