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Dubroff: Here's a vote for bringing Mark Trumbo back to the Orioles

Dubroff: Here's a vote for bringing Mark Trumbo back to the Orioles

At the end of the 2015 season, the Orioles had many more questions about their lineup than they do this season.

Last year, the team wasn’t sure what they would do about catcher, first base, the corner outfield positions and at DH. They also had questions about pitching. There are many fewer questions this season.

It’s possible that barring trades as many as 11 pitchers have solidified spots for next season, including six potential starters (Dylan Bundy, Yovani Gallardo, Kevin Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley and Chris Tillman) as well as five relievers (Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart and Darren O’Day). 

Their entire infield and two starting outfielders (Adam Jones and Hyun Soo Kim) will be back in 2017. 

As the offseason begins, the Orioles’ main questions are whether they’ll re-sign Matt Wieters and Mark Trumbo. 

I’ve suggested many times that the Orioles ought to re-sign Wieters, and here’s a vote for taking a shot at Trumbo. 

Trumbo is a one-dimensional player. His play in right field leaves a lot to be desired, but his major league leading 47 home runs were important. 

Even though Trumbo said he was helped by playing for the first time at a hitter-friendly ballpark, he still hit 22 of his 47 home runs on the road, and while his batting average was about the same at home (.254) as on the road (.258), his on-base percentage was far better at home (.334 vs. 299). 

Trumbo had a terrific start to the season, hitting .288 in the first half, and while he had a rough post All-Star Game patch that morphed into a .184 August, he rebounded smartly in September, and in the season’s last two weeks, he hit .333. 

One of the reasons for Trumbo’s rebound was the acquisition of Michael Bourn. When Showalter put Bourn in the outfield and had Trumbo as the designated hitter the team was better both offensively and defensively. 

While it seems that manager Buck Showalter prefers not having a fulltime DH in order to rest regular players, this year, he used Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez as his designated hitter in all but seven games. (Wieters and Davis were the DH twice and Trey Mancini (three times). 

The Orioles would benefit from bringing Trumbo back as the DH and perhaps re-signing Bourn. 

Joey Rickard, whose ligament injury in his right thumb cost him nearly the entire second half, is also expected back. 

If the Orioles have Bourn, Rickard and add another outfielder, they can allow Trumbo to be the DH. 

After playing for four teams in the past four seasons, Trumbo is eager to find a long-term home, and would prefer that home be in Baltimore. 

The Orioles are likely to have stiff competition in re-signing Trumbo. Boston will lose David Ortiz to retirement, and Trumbo would fit nicely in Fenway Park. Toronto could lose Jose Bautista to free agency, and Trumbo might fit in nicely there, too.

Both the Red Sox and Blue Jays don’t seem to have the payroll restrictions the Orioles do. 

Trumbo’s market is likely limited to the American League because of his defensive liabilities, and if the Orioles, as expected, slap a qualifying offer on him, his market may tighten—as Chris Davis’ did a year ago. 

For some time it seemed unlikely that Trumbo would return. Why would the Orioles, a year after paying a record seven years and $161 million, want to pay another slugger big money?  

Unlike Davis, Trumbo isn’t a superior fielder and would be fortunate to get half of what Davis did. He also doesn’t have the equity that Davis built with the fans with his big 2013 and 2015 seasons.

But, the Orioles would be a better team knowing who the DH would be for three or four years. While Trumbo will be 31 at the start of next season, he keeps himself in good shape, and is popular among his teammates. 

Trumbo is not a publicity seeker, but he is readily available in the clubhouse, both before and after games. 

The Orioles best shot at signing Trumbo may come, as Davis’ did, late in the free agent process, when other teams decide they don’t want to spend big bucks on a DH. 

And, the Orioles aren’t going to outbid the Red Sox or Blue Jays for Trumbo. If they’re willing to pay, say four years and $80 million in a market that won’t have many boldface names, they’ll sign him.

Here’s hoping the Orioles are able to bring Trumbo back. It would be a good deal for both sides. 

MORE ORIOLES: Moving on from Britton decision won't be easy for Orioles

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

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Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

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Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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USA Today Sports

Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.

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Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."

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Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."