Posted on January 20, 2017 by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the longest and most complicated sagas of the baseball offseason has come to its conclusion. The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to re-sign slugger Mark Trumbo. The two sides have gone back and forth in negotiations all offseason. There were moments when a deal looked inevitable and other times when a reunion appeared impossible. But in the end, Trumbo is heading back to Baltimore, as he and the Orioles have agreed on a three-year deal worth a reported $37.5 million. The Orioles have not announced the deal, as it is pending a physical.
The deal is nowhere near what Trumbo expected to get when the offseason began and he declined a $17.2 million qualifying offer from the Orioles. Trumbo also turned down a four-year offer from Baltimore a week before Christmas that was reportedly worth at least $50 million. Unfortunately for Trumbo, the market this winter was unkind to power hitters, and even after the likes of Yoenis Cespedes and Edwin Encarnacion left the market, there was limited interest in last year’s home run king, even from the Orioles.
As recently as two weeks ago, the Orioles were leaning towards letting Trumbo sign elsewhere so they could collect an extra draft pick. With Baltimore’s interest waning and few other teams expressing serious interest, Trumbo was forced to come down on his price, ultimately giving the Orioles quite the bargain if Trumbo can continue to show the kind of power he did in 2016.
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Now that Trumbo is officially staying in Baltimore, the next question becomes where he will play. The Orioles acquired Seth Smith earlier this month in an effort to improve their outfield defense and find a right fielder in the event Trumbo signed elsewhere. The Orioles should be able to find room for both, but it certainly does complicate things in Baltimore’s outfield, which is far more crowded than it was at the start of January.
Smith is expected to be nothing more than a platoon player, although he should see a majority of the playing time in right field against right-handed pitchers. Smith’s presence would appear to move Trumbo to the DH spot full time, which should help Baltimore’s defense. However, it also takes a spot away from prospect Trey Mancini, who has impressive power and little left to prove in the minors but is blocked at first base by Chris Davis.
The Orioles could potentially play Trumbo in right field, where he started 95 games last season, on days Smith sits against a left-handed starter, opening up the DH spot for Mancini. Of course, this would hurt Baltimore defensively and may not give the young Mancini enough at bats to warrant a spot in the big leagues, potentially forcing him back to the minors.
Regardless of how the Orioles configure defensively with Trumbo back in the fold, they figure to still be one of the most powerful lineups in baseball in 2017 after leading the majors in home runs last season. Trumbo rejoins the likes of Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, and recently signed catcher Welington Castillo to form a lineup that’s loaded with home run threats. A nearly identical lineup helped get the Orioles to the postseason last year, and with Trumbo coming back, the hope is that Baltimore can once again hit its way into the playoffs.