How does the Orioles' signing of Trumbo affect Mancini's future? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

How does the Orioles’ signing of Trumbo affect Mancini’s future?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The news that the Orioles have re-signed right-handed slugger Mark Trumbo to a three-year, $37.5 million deal, pending physical, has created an interesting roster dilemma.

What does the club do with right-handed hitting Trey Mancini, a first baseman by trade who is not as good defensively there as incumbent Chris Davis?

The answer to that question is likely still in the development stages, and it may not be flushed out until late into spring training.

Here’s what we know:

** The Orioles were not satisfied with Trumbo’s defense in right field in 2016 and set an offseason goal of improving that position defensively.

** Trumbo will be in the lineup, in some capacity, nearly every day, and so will Davis, though manager Buck Showalter wants to give his veterans more off days in 2017 if possible.

** Davis was considered for a Gold Glove at first base last year, and the Orioles don’t expect to move him from first to the outfield, even though Davis is solid in right and Trumbo is considered a better first baseman than outfielder.

** Mancini, the rookie who had five hits, including three homers, in his first 14 at-bats as a big leaguer last year, is a first baseman or designated hitter, not an outfielder.

** Executive vice president Dan Duquette has stated repeatedly that he believes Mancini could handle regular DH duties in the big leagues in 2017.

** Mancini, who turns 25 in March, hasn’t had a full season in Triple-A yet. He started 2016 in Double-A – a decision that still seems odd – but picked up 536 plate appearances at the minors’ highest level. He hit .280 with a .349 on-base percentage and 13 homers for Norfolk.

** The Orioles traded for left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith, who is considered an upgrade in right over Trumbo, but probably not significantly so. As the roster is situated now, Smith would probably play right versus right-handers, meaning Trumbo would DH in those games.

Add all of this together and Mancini’s return to Triple-A Norfolk to start 2017 looks plausible. But I think it really depends on whether the Orioles upgrade defensively in right. Players such as Michael Bourn and Angel Pagan, for instance, are still free agents.

Both could lead off – and both could also spell Adam Jones in center field on occasion; the Orioles haven’t really had a true backup center fielder for years, and that has likely taken its toll on Jones’ health. Plus, there’s still concern as to who on this roster will bat leadoff and whether the Orioles need another addition to help improve their team on-base percentage.

Joey Rickard, who missed most of the second half with a thumb injury, could be a platoon player in right versus lefties and spell Jones, but he’s also a wild card at this point.

The bottom line is if Duquette acquires a strong defensive outfielder, Mancini is probably headed to Triple-A. If Duquette doesn’t, Trumbo could play right field most games and Mancini and Smith could platoon at DH. But if the intent is to keep Trumbo out of the outfield, and mainly at DH and subbing in for Davis at first, then Mancini appears to be the odd man out initially.

Now, I’ve seen some suggest that the Orioles should trade Mancini, especially since first and DH could be locked up through 2019. But I’m not sure Mancini’s trade value is at its peak at this point. He had a nice season at Norfolk, but not one that has propelled him into league-wide status as a top prospect.

Therefore, my guess is the Orioles just let everything play out. See if they get another outfielder. See if everyone is healthy heading into April. And then make the tough choices. It’s not as if Mancini had such a dominating year at Norfolk in 2016 that he has nothing to learn there. He could still work on his defense and hitting right-handers.

So, Trumbo’s signing may complicate things a little bit. But no team has ever complained about having too many solid major leaguers on the roster or waiting in the wings in the minors. And improving the quality of bench players has also been a priority for this squad for some time.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. DauerPower

    January 20, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Door #3 could be another team having injury situation where they come looking for Trumbo with a pretty good offer. DD said he would rather have the draft pick than Trumbo so maybe they could turn this signing into some really good prospects.
    It will make spring training very interesting. I’m hoping Rickard becomes the lead off hitter we need and he and Kim can be full-time outfielders. If they can do .330+ OBP that would solve a lot of issues.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      I can’t envision a situation where Trumbo would be traded in 2017. But I guess you never say never.

  2. karks

    January 20, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I don’t see how Mancini would fit on the team the way it’s currently constructed. But all it really takes is one key injury and he’s going to be needed.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      The way is if the roster holds and he and Smith split DH. A possibility, tho Os would prefer Trumbo isn’t a full-time OFer again.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    January 20, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Like Karks said above, the guy provides an injury insurance policy, can’t complain about that. And I’m not as high on Mancini as some. He has potential, but there has been a significant number of people declaring him the next big thing (even going so far as to say he should replace Davis at first) on account of a whopping 14 big league at-bats. Yes he entered the Majors in dramatic fashion, but he has a long way to go to prove he should stay.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Yes. Impressive debut. Jury is out. Plenty of time to see what they have.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 20, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Let it ride. I”m sure Buck will figure it out. We may not see the same lineup two nights in a row this year. Even if they sign a Bourne or “Inigo” Pagan, I think there’s still room for Mancini some way.

    If Mancini DOES go back to Norfolk, I’d like to suggest they give him the “Roger Dorn” treatment.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      It’ll be interesting if Buck makes a point of subbing his regulars more. Always says he wants but never has a strong bench.

  5. Reimold And Reason

    January 20, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Hey Dan, Roch is reporting that Duquette would still like a left-handed hitting OF. I just don’t understand that. As you suggest, we need another OF with solid D who could platoon with Smith (Franklin Gutierrez or Desmond Jennings, for instance), but adding another LH bat isn’t going to do that (Pagan, at least, is decent against lefties). Are they just that confident that Rickard is going to be the guy? And even if that’s the case, why specifically target left-handed OFs rather than the best 4th OF you can find regardless of what side of the plate he bats from?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      I think that’s more the plan. An OF who fits the needs of defensive ability, speed and OBP. I don’t think that person has to be LH. But I think it would be fine if he is LH.

  6. jennings312913

    January 20, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    As far as Mancini is concerned I think its too early to really tell what his upside will be. Yes he had some good at bats last year but it was about as small a sample size as you can get. He has been projected to be a big contributor since the Orioles drafted him but there is no sense in forcing it now. If the Orioles grab another OF then I think Mancini will find himself in Norfolk with a possible reserved seat on the Shuttle.

    As far as that fourth OF I still really like Brandon Moss. However, Moss doesn’t fill the lead off role like the Orioles would require and he doesn’t have numbers against LHP much better than Smith. Bourn might be the best option there though I didn’t really care for his glove work. I’m not certain about the insistence on a lefty bat unless the organization feels it really wants more diversification within the line up.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      I think Bourn would be fine defensively. Generally speaking I thought he was pretty decent. And he could cover ground. Something the Os haven’t had next to Jones in a while. But I know many remember Bourn for a rough game in Toronto.

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