Mark Trumbo led the world with 47 home runs for the Orioles last season, which hasn’t been enough for the O’s to want to do whatever they can to re-sign him. O’s GM Dan Duquette signaled in a Sunday radio interview that the team may be looking at other shorter-term and lower-cost options to add to the roster.
It’s worth noting that this same Duquette interview saw him sort of walking back comments from a month ago about the Orioles not being interested in Jose Bautista because fans don’t like him. Uncommon is the statement from Duquette that can be taken completely at face value.
Duquette’s deflection on this Trumbo question is no exception. He might really mean it now and still take it back later if Trumbo’s camp accepts an offer the O’s are comfortable with. He might not even really mean it and this is just a cat-and-mouse chase akin to what the O’s did in their pursuit of Chris Davis last offseason, with apparent smokescreens and misdirections all attempting to bring Davis to the bargaining table.
With all of that in mind, it’s still nice to hear the GM out there saying things that make sense. There are times where it’s frustrating to see the Orioles settle for the shorter-term/lower-cost players when they have a real need to fill on the roster.
This is not one of those times mostly because Trumbo is a player who should really be limited to the designated hitter role. He strikes out a lot and does not have a good on-base percentage.
On top of that, with the team’s window for contention being what it is - two years left until Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Adam Jones are all free agents - commitments that don’t take away their resources to potentially retain those players in 2019 and beyond are preferable.
In the MLB Network Radio interview, Duquette also mentioned that the Orioles “kind of like the draft pick” that they would get if Trumbo signs elsewhere. The new baseball CBA means that there will not be any more late-first round picks given out as compensation when a free agent departs. This offseason is the last opportunity to get one. The pick the O’s would receive for Trumbo is currently #28 overall.
That’s certainly something that I hope that Duquette considers when he’s making his decisions. But he hasn’t shown much of a tendency to value a scarce draft pick highly in recent years if the right bargain comes in front of him, so I don’t expect that to be what sways him either way about Trumbo.
Duquette said the O’s are still looking for “some outfield help and some pitching depth.” The biggest reason he isn’t looking at Trumbo could just be that there are only so many dollars available and Trumbo isn’t what they need.
I won’t believe the door’s closed until Trumbo signs elsewhere, though. The Orioles might like the draft pick, but they like home runs on today’s team even more than that.