Thoughts on Trumbo as the hot stove starts to heat up -

Dan Connolly

Thoughts on Trumbo as the hot stove starts to heat up

Major League Baseball’s hot stove season has just started to simmer with the general managers’ meetings in Arizona this week.

Traditionally, that’s the time when front offices begin to get a sense as to what’s available on the market and how to best fill needs. Trade groundwork starts, and so do general conversations with representatives for this offseason’s free-agent class.

A few signings and trades occur, but nothing too surprising or shocking.

The one that caught my attention this week was the Toronto Blue Jays’ reportedly signing designated hitter Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33 million contract.

It’s compelling for several reasons that affect the Orioles.

For one, Morales is another good bat going to the division rival north of the border. He’s a switch-hitter with pop, batting .263 with 30 homers and 93 RBIs last year for the Kansas City Royals and could really thrive in a hitter-friendly home park like Rogers Centre.

But don’t weep Orioles’ fans. By signing Morales, you’d have to think they just used a chunk of their budget to fill a power need without improving their corner outfield situation.

So, re-signing first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion becomes at least a little less of a possibility for the Blue Jays. And getting Encarnacion out of Toronto would be a boon for the Orioles – that is, if he doesn’t end up in Boston to replace David Ortiz.

The Orioles have liked Morales for years, and it was probably no different this year. But they weren’t going to agree to three years for a DH-only who turns 34 in June. Morales is definitely the kind of guy the Orioles like to wait on to see if his market falls. Instead, the Jays were aggressive. Give them credit for that, but we’ll see whether the quick strike was smart, or if they overpaid.


For me, the Morales signing is most germane because it gives us a sense of what Mark Trumbo could be seeking. Trumbo is younger (he turns 31 in January) and is coming off a season in which he led the majors in homers with 47.

Much has been made of Trumbo’s limitations defensively, but he’s certainly more of a defensive asset than Morales. And he’s a much better baserunner.

The sense is that Trumbo has one-tool: significant power. And that could limit him to the AL, where he can DH at least part of the time. But I’m not sure that’s the case.

I’ve been told by several evaluators that Trumbo is an average first baseman – better at it than right field – and several teams will pursue him there. He just didn’t get a chance (six games, four starts, no errors) in Baltimore, because Chris Davis played Gold-Glove-type defense at first this past year.

Trumbo will reject the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer – and that means any team that signs him will have to forfeit either a first- or second-round draft pick. So, that should limit his market, too.

Ultimately, the Orioles would love to have him back and Trumbo would like to come back. But he’s not a great fit in that the Orioles have to improve in other areas besides power, and aren’t looking to make a major splash in free agency.

The website,, predicted that Trumbo will return to Baltimore for a four-year, $60 million deal. That price tag seems about right – especially given Morales’ deal Friday.

But I just think that’s more than what the Orioles want to spend given Trumbo’s skills set.

It’s an interesting dilemma, because the guy fit in great in the clubhouse and helped carry the Orioles to the playoffs. But the 2017 offense needs to become less reliant on the all-or-nothing swing, and so the money saved in not re-signing Trumbo could be used to diversify the offense.

Yet Trumbo’s departure makes the Orioles offense a whole lot less formidable.

The Morales’ deal is the first domino to fall. If Trumbo is the last – if it drags into late January because of the draft pick albatross hanging around his neck — I could see Trumbo returning to the Orioles.

The more likely scenario, though, is that another team jumps in a lot quicker, knowing how rare of a commodity power is.



  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    November 12, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Do you think there’s any chance the O’s might offer Trumbo a Davis-type contract? Maybe 5 or even 6 years with a lot of deferred money? The idea being they would lock up DH & 1B backup for the long term, have a potent RH/LH power base in the middle of the border.

    As much as I like the potential of Trey Mancini, unless he can become a decent outfielder, his biggest value may be in what he can bring in a trade?

    • OsFanStuckInNY

      November 12, 2016 at 7:55 am

      Um, order, not border.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 12, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Hey, the border is on all of our minds’ now — on way or another. :). As to your question. I believed then and I believe now that management gave Davis that contract partially as a reward for what he had done as an Oriole. I don’t see a similar contract being awarded unless that player has been around a long time in the Baltimore community.

  2. Eldersburg Enigma

    November 12, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Look past the home runs. Even if you want to overlook the next-gen stats like WAR, Trumbo brought a very low On base percentage. Go get Dexter Fowler, likely for less money, and that improves the team’s offense AND defense.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      November 12, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Dexter Fowler = Persona Non Grata in Charm City.

      That boat sailed last year.

      • Bancells Moustache

        November 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

        Both heart and head has to agree with the esteemed Boog on this one. After the way he bent the O’s over last year, Mr Fowler need not apply. Tough to see a scenario where Angelos would ignore last years shenanigans either.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 12, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      I tend to agree. But I also never think never in this business.

  3. ZantiGM

    November 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Reddick,Hundley,Hammell,Logan and re-sign Pearce and Hunter

    • Dan Connolly

      November 12, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Would fill a whole lotta holes. I’d put Jay and Bourn potentially on that list.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    November 12, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Has he rejected the QO yet? Because I am not entirely convinced he will. 17 million for one year is a handsome paycheck for a player with nothing that made him stand out prior to one season. The question mark about Trumbo is whether he is a one year wonder, and other franchises may be hesitant to forfeit a 1st rounder for a guy who is more Mark Teynolds than Nellie Cruz. Now, should he return on the one year deal and rip 35 to 40 Homers again, not impossible in the Camden Yards bandbox, next year his agent would be able to tell other owners to open the safe with a lot more authority. Plus, Trumbo might also be able to see that, outside of a very small number of teams, this may be his best shot at a winner. The previously mentioned Mr Cruz has yet to sniff the post season since bolting for the Pacific Northwest.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      November 13, 2016 at 9:48 am

      I’m liking the idea of Trumbo accepting the QO, but I’m also thinking that is wishful thinking. There are too many sucker teams out there wanting to appease their fanbase to think that he’s not a coveted commodity this off season. Exactly the type of thinking that got the O’s into the pickle ther’re in by handing over the keys to the bank to Crush Davis.

      As far as the idea of players putting championship aspirations ahead of their bank accounts? Hmmmmm … again … we can only wish.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 13, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      No shot of Trumbo of taking the QO. No shot. He gets one real bit of this free agent apple and hit 47 homers going in. This is the time to capitalize. He is one of if not the best power hitters out there. He’ll get a big deal. I repeat. No shot he takes QO.

      • Bancells Moustache

        November 13, 2016 at 4:53 pm

        I suppose you are right Dan. I just heard today that Trumbo is leading by 9 points in the latest national polling.

  5. Eldersburg Enigma

    November 13, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    The O’s have needs and yet just sit back and wait the market out. Frustrating when they have a good club that needs a few pieces to contend again.

  6. John in Cincy

    November 13, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    “The more likely scenario, though, is that another team jumps in a lot quicker, knowing how rare of a commodity power is.”
    It’s only more likely if the Orioles don’t have a reasonably firm plan in place for 2017. If they want to remain a power Godzilla, then they’ll bring him back quickly; otherwise, they’ll be content with the draft pick.

    I’m a bit conflicted: On the one hand, Trumbo was a key component to the O’s success, fit into the clubhouse well & has expressed his interest in returning to the team, so there are a lot of positives; on the other, does his continued presence ultimately hurt more than help, given his liability on defense, especially with the encouraging signs we saw from the pitching staff–he produced a lot for the club with his bat, but took away quite a bit with his glove.

    It’s not unreasonable to say Manny Machado very easily could hit 40+ homers next year, so moving his right-handed bat down in the lineup would nicely complement Chris Davis (who, by the way, I’m predicting will have a big bounce back year). In that scenario, the O’s could get a speedy, high OBP outfielder to give the offense a more balanced approach.

    This should be a very intriguing offseason to see how Dan Duquette improves the club, and unlike the pessimistic majority opinion, I think for once the Orioles will come to spring training with a visibly better team.

  7. ubetonit

    November 13, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    I’d love to have Trumbo back … but only if they could trade Davis.

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