Baltimore Orioles: An objective look at Mark Trumbo
Mark Trumbo has been a hot topic in Birdland lately, especially since his birthday was yesterday – we have expectations, but how will the Baltimore Orioles handle him if he isn’t healthy?
There’s a common sentiment among many Baltimore Orioles fans right now: “Trade Mark Trumbo as soon as possible”.
It’s a fair point; Trumbo has one year remaining on his contract with the Orioles, and is due $13.5 million in 2019. He’ll be the second-highest paid player on the Orioles roster next year, behind only Chris Davis.
He’s also potentially blocking Trey Mancini from making a permanent move back to first-base.
Trumbo is coming off surgery to help repair damaged cartilage in his knee; he had trouble running the bases and was relegated exclusively to DH duties prior to the season-ending surgery.
It’s not yet clear whether Trumbo will be ready for the start of spring training, or more importantly, opening day. But if there are any lingering questions, the Orioles will certainly be hesitant to deploy him anywhere other than as a designated hitter.
If Trumbo is healthy and can play both at first-base and sparingly in the outfield, it’ll allow the Orioles to be more flexible with their lineups. If he’s not, the Orioles will be stuck using Mancini as an outfielder, where he’s been a notably terrible defender.
The Baltimore Orioles are in a weird place with Trumbo right now – they sort of need him out of the way so that younger guys can get reps, but they also need him to play in order to rebuild some of his trade value so the Orioles can eventually get something in return for him.
Gut feeling, I’d prefer to see Trumbo getting the majority of reps somewhere but if the cost is having Mancini as an everyday outfielder, maybe that’s not the best idea.
In my mind, if Trumbo is playing everyday, he’ll be able to build enough value that the Orioles could get something for him in a July trade. But taking the Orioles-bias out of the equation, it feels like the O’s might not have much luck finding a suitor for him.
Realistically, he’s an American League-only guy from this point forward, most effectively deployed as a designated hitter, and with marginal defensive value.
He did post a .764 OPS last year and his 17 homers in 90 games translates to 30 in a full season of at-bats, but at 33 he’s on the wrong side of the aging curve. At this point in his career, Mark Trumbo is a 105 wRC+ designated hitter, and that’s probably not good enough for most playoff teams.
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Take a look around the league; I’m not making playoff predictions but which American League teams reasonably expect to be in the playoff hunt around the trade deadline?
New York (Giancarlo Stanton), Boston (JD Martinez), Houston (Yuli Gurriel/Tyler White), and Cleveland (Carlos Santana) seem like unlikely suitors as they all have the position filled.
The Twins signed Nelson Cruz and CJ Cron. The A’s have Khris Davis and a list of young outfielders vying for playing time. The Rays have Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz – maybe there’s a fit there but Charlie Morton is the only player on their roster making more than $8 million and they’re notoriously stingy with their money.
There’s a lower tier of unlikely wild-card competitors, but the White Sox have Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso, the Angels have Justin Bour and Albert Pujols, and the Blue Jays have Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales.
Yes, there will be injuries, but at the moment it feels like the Orioles will be banking on one of those teams losing someone for an extended period of time in order to move Trumbo.
Not everything will go right for the Baltimore Orioles in 2019. In fact, many things will likely go wrong. In an ideal world, Mark Trumbo will return fully healthy next year and prove to be valuable enough to bring a prospect back to Baltimore in a trade.
But at some point we have to step back and take an objective look at how this season might play out. Trumbo might not have any value on the trade market come July, and we have to be prepared for that.