Orioles hope there's a market for Trumbo - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles hope there’s a market for Trumbo

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles hope that Mark Trumbo returns healthy from his knee surgery and plays well enough that there’s a trade market for him next July.

For now, the Orioles have no choice but to hang on to the slugger, who projects to be the team’s designated hitter if he’s healthy.

The team would have loved to have traded Trumbo last August, but he didn’t play after Aug. 19 and had surgery in early September. The rehab time for the surgery was estimated to be six months, which would should allow Trumbo to start the season with the Orioles.

Trumbo was acquired in December 2015 from Seattle to offset the possible loss of Chris Davis to free agency. However, Davis re-signed, and Trumbo led the major leagues in home runs in 2016 with 47. That’s 13 more than he had ever had. Trumbo also had a career-high 108 RBIs.

After that impressive year, the free-agent market for Trumbo was tepid, and a year after Davis re-signed for seven years and $161 million, Trumbo accepted a three-year, $37.5-million offer in January 2017.

Trumbo failed to follow up his robust numbers in 2017, hitting 23 home runs and driving in 65 runs while batting .234.

In 2018, Trumbo missed the first month of the season because of a quad injury. In 90 games, he had 17 homers, 44 RBIs and a .261 average.

Trumbo will be 33 when the season begins, and faces a crucial year if he wishes to extend his career beyond 2019.

His career numbers are superior when he plays right field (.282 average, .338 on-base percentage in 1,105 plate appearances) instead of DHing (.230 average, .289 OBP in 1,283 plate appearances).

But his defense is a liability. He has a career -9.3 Defensive Wins Above Replacement (dWAR), and last year in just 19 games in right field and three at first base had a -1.3 dWAR.

Because of his defense, Trumbo’s market is limited. In the American League, fewer teams are using a pure DH because more are going with 13 pitchers and three bench players.

Versatility is key, and while Trumbo still has the ability to drive the ball, a team may not want to commit a roster spot to him.

Because of his knee surgery, Trumbo can’t be traded now, and he’ll not only have to prove he has his stroke back, but his numbers must be closer to 2016’s than the succeeding season.

The Orioles may want to give Chris Davis more time as the DH next season and Trey Mancini more reps at first base. That would certainly make Trumbo expendable, but it’s highly unlikely that a market will develop for him until at least July, and possibly not until August.

A team is more likely to trade for Trumbo for the September run when the rosters expand, but he’s not likely to bring much in return.

Free agent non-frenzy

When the Winter Meetings begin in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, the Orioles are likely to be one of the quietest teams in terms of buzz. They should have a permanent baseball operations team in place by then, and perhaps a new manager, too.

But the Orioles are likely to be satisfied by watching others do the chasing, at least early in the proceedings.

The Athletic’s Jim Bowden is the only prognosticator who has included the Orioles as a possible landing spot for any of the top free agents.

Bowden lists the Orioles as one of 10 teams that could be interested in Adam Jones, who he ranks as the 30th most attractive free agent. He also has the Orioles as one of 10 possible destinations for Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who he ranks 32nd.

Gonzalez was a free agent last winter, and re-signed with Colorado when a market didn’t develop. The Orioles were listed as a popular suitor for Gonzalez a year ago, but nothing materialized.

Before dismissing any possibility that a secondary or tertiary free agent might land in Baltimore, remember that Vladimir Guerrero signed a one-year, $7.6 million contract with the Orioles in 2011.

Despite a hot last two months in 2010, the Orioles weren’t expected to contend in 2011, but Andy MacPhail, who was then running  baseball operations, snapped up Guerrero in the early days of spring training, remarking that there was no such thing as a bad one-year contract.

We obviously don’t know who’s going to do the signing, but a late signing of an under-priced one-year free agent is possible.

When will there be a new management team?

Brian Graham, who’s been serving as the interim GM while the team searches for a new hierarchy, attended the General Managers meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., last week.

Candidates for the top job reportedly include Toronto assistant GM Ben Cherrington; former Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti; Houston assistant GM Mike Elias; and two candidates who work for Major League Baseball, Peter Woodfork, who supervises umpiring and instant replay as MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations; and Tyrone Brooks, who oversees diversity efforts.

Woodfork has worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox while Brooks, a native of Glen Burnie and a graduate of North County High School and the University of Maryland, has been with the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Another interesting name is Ned Rice, who spent 11 years in the Orioles’ front office before joining MacPhail and the Philadelphia Phillies in January 2016.

Known for his encyclopedic knowledge of MLB front-office rules and practices, Rice is in charge of analytics for MacPhail and the Phillies.

“I used to make poor Ned Rice in Baltimore come up and explain everything to me,” MacPhail said about analytics in 2015. “I would say, ‘What about this nonsense?’ And he would explain to me that I was old and dumb and needed to understand these things.”

 

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. boss61

    November 12, 2018 at 10:05 am

    That Trumbo got signed and then Crush resigned remains the poster child for poor communication and coordination between Duquette and the ownership team.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 10:14 am

      Soon, we will have more current things to discuss, Mark.

  2. bats in the blefary

    November 12, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Mark Trumbo has virtually no trade value. If the Orioles eat 70% or so of his deal, maybe, just maybe, a team run by an idiot will take him.

    As for the new leadership, do the Angelos boys have a calendar? Do they have any idea what day or month it is?

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      November 12, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      “A team run by an idiot…”.

      So you’re predicting Trumbo will get traded to the Orioles?

      It’s a bold move. Let’s see if it pays off for them.

      • bats in the blefary

        November 13, 2018 at 10:30 am

        hehe. That was my sad thought as I wrote that. 🙂

  3. cedar

    November 12, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Rich, if the O’s are successful and trade Trumbo, moving Mancini to 1st base and Davis to DH. What’s the outfield look like? Mullins, Stewart, and Diaz? Or someone besides Diaz?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      I think the Orioles won’t be able to trade Trumbo until late July, if at all. By then, perhaps Austin Hays is ready to play right field. I would think they could sign a one-year free agent or two to play the outfield as well so as to not rush DJ Steward or Yusniel Diaz.

  4. Birdman

    November 12, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    More time for Davis at DH? That doesn’t sound like much of a commitment to a “rebuild.”

    Sure hope that whoever the Orioles (finally) choose as head of baseball operations actually has the authority to decide what to do with Davis, but I doubt it.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      Birdman, I think that person will have the authority to make the decision, but they have an enormous investment in Davis, and a new manager and hitting coach will want to take an extended shot at working with him.

  5. Hallbe62

    November 12, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Good article Rich. Maybe we can get a few mashers out of Trumbo before moving him.

    As you said versatility is key, and Mr “Hitting Machine” lacks that, so it may actually take some effort to deal him.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Thank you, Hallbe

  6. Fareastern89

    November 12, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    If you’re going to offer someone a one-year contract, it should be an infielder or a starting pitcher, not an outfielder. And I’m not sure it’s a terrible thing to keep Trumbo around to provide some veteran leadership for the young guys; from everything I’ve read, he’s one of the good guys in that regard.

    • BirdsCaps

      November 12, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. There are far too many OF prospects (Hays, Diaz, Stewart, etc) . I could see Jones maybe coming back on a 1-2 year low-salary contract, but even that is unlikely.

      • Rich Dubroff

        November 12, 2018 at 6:15 pm

        Birdscaps, you are correct that there are a number of outfield prospects and that Jones’ return is unlikely. That’s why an outfielder or two on a cheap one-year contract may not be a bad idea.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      Fareastern, I wouldn’t rule out a one-year contract for a player of any position. If it’s just for a year, that shouldn’t be a huge deal.

  7. PA Bird Lover

    November 12, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Well, Trumbo has an eatable contract, but as for Davis forget. He’s due what 22 mil or so. That’s out of the question. The Orioles need to get his eyes lasered and than lock him in a batting cage until he hits the damn ball consistently.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm

      PA, don’t we wish it was all that easy?

  8. BirdsCaps

    November 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    What would be a good return on a deadline deal for Trumbo? With the market so defensively minded, what is the ceiling on Trumbo? Even if he has a career year (35-45 hr) does he provide a quality return? Too bad he’s hurt and had a subpar season, we could have traded him for a ptbnl and freed up a roster spot. Also, the entire market seemed to have zigged when the orioles zagged when it comes to one-dimensional power hitters, which left the birds holding the bag (two overpaid and underperforming 1b/dh).

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 12, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      I think the return on Trumbo would be quite low unless he heated up and a team suffered an injury at DH.

  9. OsfaninNC

    November 13, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Andy McPhail dumb–I got a chuckle out of that. He’s far from that. I don’t think a low cost OF & SP on a 1 year would be bad. That would give them a chance to try the young guys. Rotate them in/out. See how they do, but also have some stability at the same time

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 13, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Andy MacPhail remains a joy to this day, NC, and he’s secure enough about himself to make a joke like that.

  10. douglasmintz

    November 13, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Spoiler alert: there’s no market.

  11. John in Cincy

    November 13, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    If Chris Davis were to return at least somewhat to form next season, and Trumbo Mancini hit the way they’re capable, the Orioles could have a little thump in the middle of the lineup.

  12. Fdog3

    November 14, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Move Crush to 3rd to platoon with Renato and Mancini to first…Trumbomb to DH…let the kids roam the OF….maybe just maybe….a tradable has a good 1st half

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