The Orioles are serious enough about acquiring Mariners first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo that they're willing to part with catcher Steve Clevenger in order to get him. That was sarcasm just there, but the rumor is not a joke. It's now being reported by both Orioles and Mariners beat writers.
Trumbo is a strong dude with poor on-base skills. Clevenger is the third catcher behind Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph and he doesn't have any more minor league options. You can see right away why the O's would not mind surrendering him in a trade. Though he makes a great story since he is the local kid - the Pride of Pigtown, as Roch Kubatko likes to call him - the O's have never had much use for him.
A potential swap of these two players is not revenue neutral, which may be why Mariners writer Bob Dutton wrote in his tweet above that the Orioles were pushing for another player in the deal. Trumbo is set to make about $9 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent. Clevenger will be at or very near the major league minimum.
While $9 million for a player who has hit 30+ homers in a season twice in his career isn't a lot of money, it is a lot of money for a guy whose career on-base percentage is .300.
If you're out there inclined to panic because you think this means the Orioles are now not going to re-sign Chris Davis because they've traded for a first baseman, have no fear - The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encina is here:
Trumbo would give #Orioles legit power-hitting insurance if Davis doesn't return, but team still sees re-signing CD as one of top goals.— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) December 2, 2015
It is generous to label Trumbo as "legit insurance" in case Davis departs. Davis hit more than twice as many home runs as Trumbo in the most recent season. But it's encouraging to know the team still sees retaining Davis as a goal.
Trumbo, while not a Gold Glove-caliber player, has logged about 2,000 innings in the outfield in his big league career. That's about 40% of the total innings he's played in the field. The right-handed slugger, who turns 30 next month, could also easily slot in as a designated hitter. So it's not like he's locked in, boom, first baseman no matter what.
Against lefties in his career, Trumbo has batted .267/.313/.511. You don't have to think very hard to figure out how that kind of production could fit into some kind of platoon, although returning to the money question, $9 million is a lot for a platoon bat for a team like the Orioles, and it's a lot for a guy who kind of stinks when he's not homering. Imagine if he bombs and they have to designate him for assignment by June? That's $9 million wasted dollars. Maybe the 2015 Orioles just burned me too much and I'm afraid to love a player again.
Anyway, so long to Steve the Cleve and any hopes of a Clevenger/Garrett Cleavinger (2015 third round pick) battery. I guess that's a small price to pay for a guy who can hit 30 homers. Or so I have to tell myself since we're still four months away from real baseball games.
On the bright side, this could be the renewal of a beautiful friendship between Team Mark and the Orioles. I have been waiting for this day for a long time.