NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND – The 2016 Winter Meetings are officially here.
Celebrate if you like. Don’t expect me to do cartwheels at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, though (I’m not sure anyone who has seen/met me ever would expect that anyway).
This is never the best assignment for baseball writers: A whole lot of milling around, walking lobbies, chasing rumors, trying to glean information and deciding just how accurate it really is.
And that last part is probably the old guy in me, because nowadays the public’s true appetite is for rumor, with a side of truth sprinkled in.
Regardless, this whole week is fun for baseball’s fan base, because all the powers-that-be are here talking baseball – and moves do get made. I’ve covered a bunch of these events, and there are always a few splashes each year.
Admittedly, none have involved the Orioles in recent memory, but I guess you never know what can happen. So, I’m here all week, or at least until Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, which is basically the Orioles’ Winter Meetings version of Christmas morning. They will open a present or two.
So, check in periodically this week and I’ll do my best to give you something interesting to read.
The Orioles’ front office arrived here Sunday, and executive vice president Dan Duquette offered a nugget of news to his cousin, Jim, and another former GM, Jim Bowden, on MLB Network Radio on Sunday night.
He said that the club had made an offer to former Oriole and current free agent Mark Trumbo. Duquette later told reporters that he has made a couple offers to the league’s reigning home run champ.
It’s not a surprising development. Duquette has said since October that he wants to retain Trumbo, and the club made him a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer, which Trumbo turned down.
The question that comes up in these situations is always, “How substantial is the offer?” We don’t know that right now.
Going back 15 or more years, it’s rare to see the Orioles not make an offer to one of their own, high-profile free agents.
But, frankly, oftentimes those offers aren’t close to getting a deal done.
I, for one, am fascinated by Trumbo’s market this winter. The guy is only 30, hit 47 homers last year and started only four games at his best defensive position (first base) in 2016. His defense in right field – where he started 95 games last year – doesn’t grade out well, and so many in the industry see him as a DH-only type.
But power is a coveted commodity, and given Trumbo’s age and ability to homer frequently, you have to wonder if there isn’t a team out there that will pay dearly for his right-handed bat, and figure out later where he is going to play.
The DH conundrum/Holliday agrees with Yankees
One thing that affects Trumbo’s value is how many teams really believe they need a DH. One, the New York Yankees, have landed their man in Matt Holliday, agreeing to a one-year, $13 million deal with the 36-year-old, according to multiple reports.
The Houston Astros are also likely out of the DH market after signing Carlos Beltran.
Someone in the AL is going to end up with Edwin Encarnacion, who reportedly turned down a four-year, $80 million deal to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Boston, obviously, is looking to replace David Ortiz’s production, and Trumbo and Encarnacion have been linked there.
Eventually, that game of DH musical chairs will end and a hitter or two will be left looking for a partner; the Orioles are always willing to dance in those scenarios.
All that said, I’m still not convinced that a National League team doesn’t swoop in on Trumbo as a first baseman (Colorado is one NL team that has been rumored to have interest).
Baines, the quintessential DH, doesn’t get HOF nod
The Today’s Game Era Committee considered 10 finalists for induction into the 2017 Hall of Fame class this winter and announced Sunday that former commissioner Bud Selig and former Atlanta Braves’ and Kansas City Royals’ GM John Schuerholz, a Baltimore native and City College High School/Towson University grad, were chosen.
There were a whole lot of Oriole connections in the finalist group: Schuerholz got his start with the Orioles in 1966; Albert Belle, Will Clark, Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson and Harold Baines all played for the Orioles (Johnson, who was being considered on his managerial merits, also managed the Orioles).
I’m sure a lot of people in Maryland were hoping Baines, who grew up in St. Michaels and spent seven of his 22 seasons playing for the Orioles, would make the final cut.
His numbers are impressive: a .289 career average, .356 on-base percentage, .465 slugging percentage, 2,866 hits, 384 homers, 1,628 RBIs. He also made six All-Star teams and is considered one of the sport’s best designated hitters.
But that distinction didn’t help him with the writers – he never received more than 6.1 percent of the vote, falling well below the 75 percent needed. Ultimately, it didn’t help him in the veterans’ committee voting either. At least Baines got on the final ballot, though.