Orioles face difficult offseason decision on Mancini - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles face difficult offseason decision on Mancini

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

This fall, the Orioles are faced with a decision about one of their key players, Trey Mancini. The 29-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is in his final year of eligibility for arbitration and, according to MLBTradeRumors.com, could receive a contract for $7.9 million.

Mancini, who missed the 2020 season after colon cancer surgery and chemotherapy, played 147 games for the Orioles, second most on the team. He hit 21 home runs, fourth most, and his 71 runs batted in were tied with Austin Hays for second most on the team, behind Ryan Mountcastle.

Mancini’s comeback was remarkable, and he remains a productive player. But what’s his future with the Orioles?

For a franchise with a low payroll, a $7.9 million contract shouldn’t be a problem. The Orioles don’t have a single player with a guaranteed deal for next season and, with the retirement of Chris Davis, the money should be there.

Mancini’s production was solid, and the guess here is that after a full offseason of rest and working out, he’ll come back stronger and healthier and have an even better season in 2022.

He was more productive when he was the designated hitter (.295 with an .846 OPS in 68 games) than he was when he played first base (.220 with a .671 OPS in 76 games).

Having Mancini as the primary DH with some first base mixed in could mean a more potent lineup. With Cedric Mullins, Hays, Mountcastle and a healthy Anthony Santander, the Orioles should be better offensively.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has been proactive with players in their final years before free agency. In the past two offseasons, Elias has dealt infielder Jonathan Villar, and pitchers Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb. Villar and Cobb had one year before free agency. Bundy had two.

Mancini appears to be a special case. His courage in coming back from his illness, his willingness to share his story, his community activity and his character make him a valuable asset.

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Besides dealing veteran players for prospects, Elias has yet to sign a player to an extension, and there’s no sign that the Orioles are eager to extend Mancini.

As long as Mancini would agree to a reasonable extension, he’s valuable to the Orioles on and off the field. Having an accomplished veteran on a young team is important. Having an accomplished veteran who has endured what he has is even more important.

Elias has been an aggressive trader. During his first season, he sent pitcher Andrew Cashner, in his final months before free agency, to the Boston Red Sox for two young Dominican Summer League prospects.

When the Orioles traded Villar, they received young left-handed reliever Easton Lucas from the Miami Marlins. Lucas was 3-1 with a save and a 3.96 ERA in 27 games for High-A Aberdeen this year.

Bundy brought back four right-handed pitchers from the Los Angeles Angels — Kyle Bradish, Kyle Brnovich, Isaac Mattson and Zach Peek. Mattson has already pitched for the Orioles. The others showed promise in the minor leagues this season.

Cobb’s return from the Angels was second baseman Jahmai Jones.

If the Orioles were to trade Mancini, the return would have to appear to be high to placate a restive fanbase, many of whom would like to see him extended.

The Orioles could always check the trade market this offseason and, if it wasn’t to their liking, hold on to Mancini and trade him at the deadline. If Mancini played well in the first half of the 2022 season, assuming the National League adopts the designated hitter, maybe his return would be higher.

But they shouldn’t be in any rush. If they traded Mancini, there’s no one to immediately fill the DH role. The Orioles could always try DJ Stewart as part of a platoon, but who would be the right-handed hitter to pair with the left-handed Stewart?

Outfield prospect Kyle Stowers probably won’t be ready to begin the 2022 season and, if he’s ready midway through the year, the team could deal Santander, assuming his 2021 downturn was related to the sprained left ankle he played with for much of the year.

Instead of more prospects, the Orioles could have Mancini for another year. He’s far more important to the team than Bundy, Cashner, Cobb or Villar were, and he’s probably more valuable to the Orioles than to another team.

Mancini has often expressed his willingness to remain with the Orioles. It’s time that the team thanked him for his hard work, his example on the field and off, and rewarded the fans with an addition—instead of a subtraction.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. millboy

    October 18, 2021 at 7:33 am

    Couldn’t agree more…What about a 3 year extension. I believe he will come back stronger, who even thought he would play as many games as he did this year. Hope the Orioles appreciate what he did this year, chemo is no joke.

  2. karks

    October 18, 2021 at 7:41 am

    It’s amazing what he did just 1 year after chemo. And 2022 should be a stronger year. The fit is simply too good to send Trey somewhere else. I hope they can keep him long term.

  3. CalsPals

    October 18, 2021 at 7:53 am

    Excellent article, well stated facts, Trey should be DH, his leadership qualities are undeniable, especially with a young group of guys & the extras he would bring to Baltimore are needed today & in the future…needs to marry his girlfriend, she’s awesome as well…go O’s…

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 18, 2021 at 8:01 am

      Totally agree on all points!

  4. Baltimore Castaway

    October 18, 2021 at 8:16 am

    This is really difficult.

    The Orioles have had poor luck in being able to have today’s fringe players, e.g. Mancini, Santander, Stewart, Scott, Fry, H. Harvey perform up to any level of value so that they can have any trade value… none of these guys have much value in putting a better team on the field nor having any trade value. The early arrivers for the future are knocking on the door…all of the above guys are easily replaceable and have no trade value…

    This is really difficult…

    I know that people love Trey, and rightfully so. But if you are building a team for the future you don’t sign him to an expensive long term contract… you just don’t.

  5. Orial

    October 18, 2021 at 8:45 am

    I feel this is sacrilege to say but Mancini offers somewhat good but not great offensive output. Great guy but his abilities don’t make up for middling team offense. But for the time being who’s better at that role? Heart says you can’t trade him,brain says you should. I’ll accept either outcome.

  6. Orioles20

    October 18, 2021 at 9:12 am

    I think we all love Mancini and what he means to the city and team. But I don’t think you can bring him back. It doesn’t make sense to bring him back. Mancini is a good player but he doesn’t really fit the orioles timeline.

  7. Mhmartz

    October 18, 2021 at 9:31 am

    I would reconsider my allegiance if they deal Trey for a salary dodge. I know baseball is a business, but it survives because of its soul.

  8. cedar

    October 18, 2021 at 9:47 am

    If the plan is on track, where does Mancini play in 2023? I think it makes sense to offer arbitration for this year and let him walk in 2023.

  9. Richabbs52

    October 18, 2021 at 10:25 am

    The Os shouldn’t extend Mancini, but rather let him play out next year and then let him hit free agency, with caveat that he give Os a chance to match his best offer. Trading him will likely not bring back the value Mancini is worth to the Os, but extending him wouldn’t be wise for a team building for the future. Let him hit the free agency market after next season, and if a team values him more than the Os, then let him go and make the $. Nothing wrong with that.

  10. sportscoper

    October 18, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Trading players entering the last year of arbitration does not interpret as being proactive.

    • willmiranda

      October 18, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      I half agree: it’s being proactive in one direction, out the door. It gives “proactive” a bad name.

  11. Birdman

    October 18, 2021 at 10:58 am

    For a normal franchise, extending Mancini would be a no-brainer … Mancini has been the Orioles most (and only) productive hitter over the past 5 years, not to mention a big fan favorite on a team with a dispirited and diminishing fan base … And as Rich notes, there’s also the matter that this team has no other dependable, productive hitter to be DH.

  12. Buzz1979

    October 18, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Nice story, but not at 7.9 million, makes no sense in a rebuild!

    • Birdman

      October 18, 2021 at 11:12 am

      Yeah, maybe the Orioles can replace him with another major league minimum salary player, like their entire pitching staff.

  13. TxBirdFan

    October 18, 2021 at 11:35 am

    The O’s should have kept both Markakis and Adam Jones for fan appeal, despite their increased salaries, but let them both walk. I don’t see them making a different decision here even though they should. Every competitive team needs someone who can lead with heart and soul and Trey can bring that in spades. He’d also be a great mentor for Adley and the other kids waiting in the wings.

    • ClayDal

      October 18, 2021 at 12:55 pm

      Adam Jones last year with the Orioles (2018) he made over 17 million. The next year with Arizona he made 3 million. Money wasn’t the issue. They just wanted to move on. Markakis last year in Baltimore ( 2014) he was finishing up a 6 year 66 million contract-11 million a year. His deal with Atlanta was 4 years 44 million-same average. The issue with Nick wasn’t money but he was undergoing surgery and the Orioles didn’t want to go 4 years with him. Oddly his best year in Atlanta was the 4th year

    • TxBirdFan

      October 18, 2021 at 7:50 pm

      CP – I did a poor job trying to make my point. Both Markakis and Jones were fan favorites but the O’s found reasons not to sigh them. Likewise Trey is a fan favorite and paying him is a no brainer.

  14. Pooty

    October 18, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    So tired of this rebuilding mentality. How many friggin more years are we going to posture like this? You’ve lost a s-ton of fanbase! Look at the thousands of empty seats even after Covid rules were relaxed! I’ve been a fan since 1984, but I’m to the point now, that if they trade Trey, I’m done for good. I’m tired of watching good players get traded because the “team’s rebuilding”, or more likely, the owner is too cheap. I’m tired of watching minor league ball pretending to be Major. It’s bad enough I have to deal with the MASN-Dish Network debacle, and since I can’t get cable, I’m stuck with DirecTV, which sucks.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      October 18, 2021 at 12:25 pm

      You won’t have to wait too much longer.

      Adley and Grayson and Stowers and others will be playing at OPACY very soon.

      The pitching thing is a riddle well-beyond my pay grade, but they will figure it out..

      Don’t lose heart now—you’ve made it this far!!

      • [email protected]

        October 19, 2021 at 9:53 am

        They need to trade or sign a player who knows how to win a star not one player on the roster has been on a team at the major league level who has won and need to sign him for five years for big money to show them how to win and make it over500

    • dlgruber1

      October 18, 2021 at 3:05 pm

      Pooty, 1984, NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR?!?! So, you’re the one to blame for the demise of this once proud franchise whose last WS victory was in 1983! Hell, let me guess, are you a freakin’ Indianapolis Colts fan too? You know what? I’m sorry. Don’t mind me. That’s no way to treat a new reader to this site, or at least someone I haven’t seen post a comment before. I just got off the golf course and I’m pissed so I took out my frustrations on you. But still, 1984, damn.

    • CalsPals

      October 18, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      I have some t-shirts from 1984…lol…go O’s…

  15. dlgruber1

    October 18, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    I gotta say I’m a bit surprised that there are some who are saying don’t pay Trey based on his numbers. In case you forgot, he’s coming off an entire year recovering from cancer. It’s not as if he dislocated a shoulder or something. Regardless of what people may think, there is no way his body was prepared for the rigors of a 162 game season in which he only had about 18 days off or so. He could’ve had more time off at the All Star break but he was sorta busy then too. I actually think his numbers were Herculean after what he’d gone thru. As Rich said in the article, I’m thinking as long as there are no setbacks he’ll have better numbers next year. This should absolutely be a no brainer. Pay the man.

    • NormOs

      October 18, 2021 at 6:22 pm

      I AGREE! There are definately a few more that have to be paid, namely Mullins, Hays, Santandar, Mountcastle, Means, Lopez, Wells and one other reliever (I can’t think of his name cause when you’re 89 and the season has been over for a month, it’s kind of tough to remember names especially from a most forgetable bullpen.) The starters will work themselves
      out.

      • Rich Dubroff

        October 18, 2021 at 8:35 pm

        I bet you’re thinking of Cole Sulser, Norm.

  16. dlgruber1

    October 18, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    An addendum to my last post. Don’t take him to arbitration either. Pay him what his agent asks for. They’d look so bad trying to lowball what his agent asks for.

  17. Bhoffman1

    October 18, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Shame on Elias if this man is not resigned

  18. Nellie

    October 18, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Has anyone wondered what Trey REALLY would like to do? It might not be staying with the O’s and suffering another 100+ loss season. FREE TREY.

    • dlgruber1

      October 18, 2021 at 7:45 pm

      Nellie, from every interview I’ve ever heard Trey has been clear he’d love to stay in Baltimore.

    • Birdman

      October 18, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      There’s a simple way to find out if he wants to stay – make him a reasonable extension offer, and see if he accepts it.

  19. Icterus fan

    October 18, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Not much to add here – loads of good comments.

    I’m in the “sign Trey” camp, and make it a legitimate offer, not a flaccid, penurious and embarrassing attempt.

    This guy has been nothing but a keep-your-head-down-and-do-your-job type employee. He performed extremely well this year given his mighty struggles with health. Amazing, as we all recognized.

    He’s one of the most respected players on the team, makes himself available to the press, says good things about his employer and team mates and will help sell tickets.

    Yes, it’s a business, but please do the right thing, get out ahead of it, and make a legit offer to this guy.

  20. BirdsCaps

    October 18, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Trade him if an offer you can’t refuse comes up. If not, give him a reasonable contract. Most of all this team needs to stop being so damn cheap.

    • [email protected]

      October 19, 2021 at 9:46 am

      They should trade Mancini he is not a fringe player though stick to your guns if you do not get back what you want trade him before the deadline what the Orioles need at sometime is to get a player who knows how to win know body on this team has been on a winner

  21. dakhd1

    October 20, 2021 at 12:48 am

    Mancini has too many +’s to let go. He remains a strong asset for the O’s rebuilding efforts.

  22. OriolesFan1974

    October 21, 2021 at 10:15 pm

    Maybe I read this wrong but is it the plan to trade or let go in the next season or 2 Mancini, Hayes, and Santander so they don’t have to pay em the money they are owed? If this is the case, I’ll most certainly be done with being an Orioles fan. If the owners don’t care about the Team anymore than sell it to someone that will care. Mancini, Hayes, Mountcastle and Santander should be around for the foreseeable future

  23. Mtairyordge

    October 22, 2021 at 8:13 am

    What is a reasonable extension worth these days?

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