It’s good to be the reigning home run king because you can aim high and hope for the best. That’s what seems to be going on with Mark Trumbo, the lone Orioles qualifying offer free agent, who, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, is seeking an $80 million contract.
You probably just made a horrified face in reaction to that sentence. That’s the face I made when I saw the tweet. It’s worse if you read the tweet, because the tweet includes the $80 million demand along with the fact that the Orioles have made a four-year offer to Trumbo.
If Trumbo’s out there looking for $80 million, the Orioles shouldn’t even be talking to him, let alone trying to make offers. Everything that I wrote earlier today about not understanding the O’s interest in Trumbo still applies. Yes, dingers, but come on! The Orioles need an outfield defense that isn’t the worst in MLB, again.
Early offseason demands are often inflated, so it’s not worth putting TOO much stock in Trumbo’s $80 million demand. Around this time last year, Chris Davis was said to be out there looking for an eight year, $200 million contract. He didn’t get that, although he did get a big chunk of it.
UPDATE: Some good news for anyone panicking about this from ESPN’s Buster Olney:
Sources: Orioles perceive they are not close in talks with Mark Trumbo, and are prepared to move on to other options.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2016
That is exactly what I want to hear in response to “Mark Trumbo is demanding $80 million.” The Orioles can’t move on from that demand too soon. Of course, a year ago, we were treated to a month and a half of “the Orioles have/haven’t moved on from Davis” before they signed him. It seems unlikely that the Orioles would be as committed to waiting around for Trumbo as they were for Davis, but you never know with them.
Trumbo is almost certainly going to have to settle for less, perhaps a lot less. The longer he sticks to such a high demand, the worse off he could end up being. If other teams spend all their money and fill in all their gaps and Trumbo is the last guy standing around without a chair, that’s not going to end well for him.
Yes, Trumbo just hit 47 home runs, and that was great, but he did so with an unremarkable .316 on-base percentage and while showing that he belongs, if at all in the field, at first base only, and perhaps only as a designated hitter.
At least for now, according to Kubatko, it seems like the O’s and Trumbo aren’t exactly close to a reunion. One reason for that, and hopefully not the only reason, is that Trumbo is looking for a full no-trade clause in his contract, which the O’s are not willing to do.
So that’s something. But seriously, whatever money the Orioles are even vaguely contemplating spending on Trumbo, they really ought to just go back up in front of Dexter Fowler’s house instead. Get the guy with a great OBP who can actually play an outfield position well.
One thing I’m curious about is how far apart the Orioles offer and Trumbo’s demand really are. If Trumbo’s seeking $80 million over four years, he’s looking for $20 million per year. But maybe that $80 million asking price is for a five year contract, which would be “only” $16 million per year.
An added wrinkle to Kubatko’s original tweet is that Trumbo’s camp is said to be willing to come down to $70-75 million if there’s “backloading” involved. It’s tough to evaluate that information without knowing whether that means years 3-4 of the contract are where the backloaded money is or whether it’d be a deferred money situation.
If anything, the Orioles would probably be better off frontloading a hypothetical contract so he’s on the books for less money when the time comes to give all of the years and all of the dollars to Manny Machado.
Whether or not the O’s might actually bring Trumbo back is something to worry about later in the offseason if Trumbo’s price comes down and the O’s are still looking to spend money. For now, best of luck to Trumbo in getting his $80 million from someone other than the Orioles. I’ll be happy to see someone else make that mistake.