Orioles general manager Mike Elias indicated Wednesday that the Orioles are expecting Mancini to be the team’s first baseman come Spring Training and the regular season.
On a conference call with reporters, Elias downplayed the possibility that a trade for any of the team’s veteran players is likely at this time, even though it’s clear the Orioles are in full rebuild mode.
“We’ve got some talented players, and many of whom have a lot of years of contractual control left and it’s natural to get those phone calls, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to do anything,” Elias said. “But we always do our jobs in terms of fielding calls, working the market, finding out what’s going on out there. But I can’t say that anything is likely.”
Mancini was diagnosed with colon cancer last March and had surgery and went through chemotherapy to beat it. He underwent his last treatment in September and has since made great progress in getting back onto the field.
“He missed a year last year. That was obviously a horrible surprise that we all got in spring training,” Elias said. “But we got him the best medical care on earth, he took it on like Trey Mancini. He’s 100 percent, he’s looking great. We’re just super excited to see him in Sarasota. I think he’s going to go right back to hitting in the middle of our lineup and being one of the better hitters in baseball this year.”
Late Tuesday, reports emerged that the Braves were interested in the right-handed slugger.
In 2019, Mancini slashed .291/.364/.535 with a career-high 35 home runs and 97 RBIs. He posted a 135 OPS+ as he became the Orioles’ best hitter in a difficult 54-108 season.
Now, they see him more as a first baseman with so many corner outfield options on the roster, or in the pipeline. Elias said with Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and DJ Stewart, and the potential of a Yusniel Diaz call-up this season, they want Mancini getting reps at first. The designated hitter spot is also an option.
“He’s going to be a big part of our team this year, obviously,” Elias said. “To be sitting here, January 27, with the news that we got in March and where he’s at right now, we’re at, I think, the top outcome we could have had. I’m so proud of him and our medical staff for everything they’ve done.”
With some younger talent in the corner outfield spots, the Orioles will certainly be able to keep their lineup a bit less in flux than it had been in the last few seasons.