The month of January is in a new year, yet it’s not much different for Orioles fans than the months of November and December. Most of what’s going on for the team is waiting to see who’s signing elsewhere or rumored to be maybe signing elsewhere. On Wednesday morning, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported that the Oakland Athletics “have reached out to” free agent slugger Mark Trumbo.
The Athletics were 69-93 last season, so their interest in any kind of big-name free agent is puzzling. It’s not the first time they’ve gone down this road this offseason, though, as they were reported to have offered a shorter term, higher AAV contract to Edwin Encarnacion before he ended up signing with the Indians.
Heyman does not offer any details of what the Athletics may have had to offer Trumbo when they reached out to him. Seems like a reasonable guess they might want to play the high AAV, fewer years game with Trumbo too.
It’s still not clear exactly what the Orioles offered Trumbo previously. Back in early December, the rumor was that the O’s had either offered Trumbo something in the realm of four years and $52 million, or a three year contract at a similar AAV with an option for a fourth year.
Whatever that offer was, it’s since been pulled, though as we saw with Chris Davis in the previous offseason, an offer that’s been pulled can be quickly restored if the two sides get to the point where they want to make a deal.
At one time, Trumbo was seeking as much as $80 million, never a very realistic asking price for him. Now that Encarnacion has signed for $60 million guaranteed, Trumbo figures to be in line for less than that still.
The Athletics were bad enough in 2016 that they don’t have to worry about giving up their top draft pick to sign Trumbo. Their #6 overall selection is protected. They would instead lose their pick in the competitive balance round A, which will land in the early 30s. The Orioles will gain a pick at #28 overall if Trumbo signs elsewhere.
Is this something that might actually happen? It’s worth keeping an eye on. Heyman notes that while Encarnacion was more interested in remaining east, Trumbo is a southern California native, so he may be more receptive to a high AAV offer from Oakland than Encarnacion was.
That’s assuming Trumbo wants to go join a bad team with a huge home stadium, of course. And Oakland isn’t really that close to southern California, though it’s certainly closer than Baltimore.
The idea of the Orioles going out and re-signing Trumbo was not a very exciting one in early November when the board was still full of interesting free agents. Now, most or all of the best players available have already signed.
The idea of Trumbo coming back to hit 35-40 homers a year as the designated hitter (please, please don’t do the right field thing again, O’s) is not the worst thing. On the other hand, at this point, maybe the O’s should just roll with Trey Mancini and pocket the money towards a Manny Machado contract. But that’s another story for another day.
Until this moves beyond the Athletics “reaching out” to Trumbo, it’s not worth panic or excitement in either direction.