Back in November, free agent slugger Mark Trumbo was out there asking the Orioles for $80 million. Now it’s January, and according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Trumbo’s asking price has come down, with Trumbo recently asking the Orioles for a three year contract worth $50 million.
The price for Trumbo is possibly even lower than that, as Rosenthal noted that Trumbo’s camp indicated “that he would sign a deal of the same length in a lesser $40-50 million range.”
Is that going to be low enough to get a deal done? Probably not, if you believe what Dan Duquette said over the weekend about liking the draft pick and liking shorter-term, lower-cost options rather than Trumbo. Duquette is not always to be believed. For the right price, he would be foolish to collect the draft pick rather than re-sign Trumbo.
It’s not surprising to hear that Trumbo’s asking price has come down. The three year, $60 million contract given to Edwin Encarnacion by the Indians has to have been something of a market reset for sluggers. If Encarnacion, who is better than Trumbo by virtue of a longer track record and significantly better on base skills, is worth “only” that much, everyone else is going to get less than they hoped.
Unless one of the other teams who’s expressed some interest in Trumbo - Rosenthal mentions the Rockies and Rangers having interest but also reservations - snags him now, his price may have to come down farther still. He is getting close to the point where teams are going to have set their rosters and payrolls up before spring training and he could only squeeze in on a much lower contract.
With the Orioles already being committed to more than $150 million in 2017 payroll, it’s an open question how much Trumbo they could afford, whatever price he is willing to take. Earlier in the offseason, the O’s offered Trumbo a four year deal worth about $13 million per year. Even that offer was generous compared to Encarnacion’s contract.
There’s no question at all that Trumbo should be worth $13 million a year as long as he is kept out of right field. But there’s still a long way from $39 million to $50 million, so he will have to come down in his price to take a deal like that.
There is no indication that the Orioles even made a counter-offer at this point in time. Perhaps they really have moved on, though that would be a surprise. Indications from Orioles beat writers earlier in the offseason were that Trumbo would be the one player the O’s were willing to expand the budget in order to sign.
A three year contract with a modest AAV doesn’t have a ton of downside for the O’s. Although Trumbo has flaws as a player, there’s every reason to believe his power will continue to play in an O’s uniform over the next couple of seasons, when the O’s really need to field the best team they can before the free agent exodus.
Any contract that helps the Orioles in 2017 and 2018 while not costing them much in 2019 is a good thing. They can compete now with the core that’s still here, and they don’t have much money tied up beyond that so they can still attempt to offer big bucks to Manny Machado when the time comes.
Things can change in a hurry with notifications if one side is willing to budge. Right now, that side doesn’t seem like it’s the Orioles, so Trumbo will need to either find his deal elsewhere or keep dropping his asking price.