Let’s look at the Mark Trumbo acquisition practically. The Orioles now have six certain starters for nine positions. That’s two more than they had three weeks ago.
With Chris Davis, Gerardo Parra, Steve Pearce and Matt Wieters possible free agents, the Orioles had just four secure positions following last season: J.J. Hardy (shortstop), Adam Jones (center field), Manny Machado (third base) and Jonathan Schoop (second base.)
When Wieters surprisingly accepted the team’s qualifying offer that secured the fifth. It also freed up Steve Clevenger for a trade because the Orioles didn’t need a third catcher.
Clevenger is heading to Seattle for Trumbo and another player whose name will be revealed shortly.
The natural inclination is to think Trumbo will be Davis’ replacement at first base, and he may well be, but the new acquisition can play any of the four positions the Orioles don’t have an obvious starter for: first, left field, right field and designated hitter.
Six certain starters is better than five.
Trumbo’s 2016 will probably be a one-off for the Orioles, but that’s fine. He’ll likely make about $9 million, and with his power hitting resume (four seasons of 20 or more home runs, three of 80-plus RBIs), Trumbo should be an attractive commodity in 2016.
He’ll at the least add some free agent drama to next fall’s Orioles rumblings. At the moment, Trumbo, Wieters and Brian Matusz are the only 2016 free agents on the Orioles.
At the most, Trumbo will hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs, which is what the Orioles expect from Davis.
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How does Trumbo’s acquisition impact the club’s pursuit of Davis?
They’ll continue to try and sign him, but they realize that Davis’ agent, Scott Boras has the power and often waits a long, long time before he has his client choose a place to sign.
Do the Orioles want to wait until Jan. 20 to decide on who plays first base? I don’t think so.
The Orioles still badly want Davis, and they still need an outfielder or two, but at least they don’t have to convince their fans that they haven’t been active this offseason.
Davis’ market hasn’t developed, yet, but that doesn’t bother Boras. Most teams are chasing free agent starters, and so are the Orioles, but not David Price, who agreed to a seven-year, $213 million contract with Boston on Tuesday.
St. Louis, which was also a rumored destination for Price, is rumored as a suitor. So is Boston, but can even the Red Sox afford Price and Davis?
According to Baseballreference.com, the Red Sox’s payroll for 2016 is estimated at $169.2 million—and that is without Price’s salary.
Boston will be eager to peddle some of the team’s higher salaries, but I can’t see the Orioles taking Hanley Ramirez’s $22.75 million contract for the next three years—even with some help.
Houston, which is apparently eager to shed Chris Carter, another big homer, big strikeout guy, would seem a likely destination for Davis, but an industry source says that the Astros don’t want to take on a mega-contract.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees swoop in and try and sign Davis. When the Orioles were interested in Mark Teixeira seven years ago, and made a reasonable offer for him, Brian Cashman quietly made a deal with Boras, who represented Tex at that time.
The Yankees are making all the right noises about building from within and being responsible with their payroll, but they can still pay Davis more than the Orioles can.
Trumbo strikes out often. Last year, he struck out 136 times in 142 games, but while Davis struck out 208 times, more than anyone else in the majors, he did walk 84 times.
Davis’ on-base percentage of .361 last year dwarfs Trumbo’s .310, which was almost exactly the Orioles’ team average.
Seattle’s replacement for Trumbo is set to be Nori Aoki, who the Orioles discussed as a free agent both last year and this.
But, the Orioles will be looking for a player like Aoki to play the outfield. He’s a player who can get on base and run, and that’s something the team needs much more of.
As for Clevenger, he’ll be missed. He’s an enjoyable, upbeat guy who enjoyed playing in his hometown. Last year, he became the first Baltimore-bred player to hit a home run in Oriole Park.
He worked hard to improve his catching, and could have helped out as a left-handed DH, but with Wieters and Caleb Joseph on the 2016 club, would have had few chances to play in the field.
Today promises more action. It’s the deadline to tender contracts, and once Trumbo’s addition becomes official, the Orioles will have 12 to offer.
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