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Thursday Bird Droppings: Wondering about Trey Mancini’s future in Baltimore

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There’s no Oriole more recognizable than the inspiring, fan-favorite first baseman. But where do things go from here?

MLB: Home Run Derby Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Tonight the Orioles enjoy their last of four straight days off for the All-Star break, as members of the club have scattered to the winds and (presumably) spent time at their respective homes all week. Everyone, that is, except the two Orioles who were in Denver: All-Star Game starter Cedric Mullins, who went 0-for-2 and scored a run in the Midsummer Classic, and Trey Mancini, who put on an incredible, inspiring show in Monday’s Home Run Derby.

As the two hometown heroes rejoin the Orioles for the second half, we can’t help but wonder what their future with the club holds. We’ll likely be seeing plenty more years of Mullins, who is under team control through 2025. But Mancini? With the first baseman eligible for free agency after the 2022 season, that’s a dicier issue.

Baltimore Baseball’s Rich Dubroff wrote yesterday urging the Orioles to sign Mancini to a contract extension. It’s not hard to see why. He’s one of the longest-tenured players on the team and certainly the most popular, a beloved fan favorite who has established himself as a clubhouse leader and all-around class act. He’s a productive hitter who carries a career 119 OPS+, 102 home runs, and 293 RBIs in parts of five seasons. And his remarkable, improbable comeback from cancer surgery to re-emerge as a bona fide MLB player — within just one year! — is an inspiration to everyone who knows his story. Mancini is a guy whose mere presence makes a team better. (Think of how much worse the 2021 Orioles would be without him.)

Yet, as Dubroff also points out, Orioles GM Mike Elias doesn’t seem like the type to be overly swayed by sentiment. In a baseball sense, Mancini might not fit the club’s rebuild. His contract runs out before the O’s are expected to be contenders again. He’ll be 30 years old next March. He plays a position, first base, in which Ryan Mountcastle may be the long-term answer. Mancini may well be one of the Orioles’ few valuable assets in a trade.

It’s a sticky situation, for sure, and it’s hard to know what to expect. I don’t see the Orioles trading Mancini this year, not after he’s done the city so proud with his resilience and perseverance in the face of such harrowing personal challenges. Even Elias wouldn’t want to face that kind of public backlash (although a part of me thinks it’d be nice to see Mancini get to play for a contender if he were dealt). But I also don’t think a Mancini contract extension is something that’s on the Orioles’ radar, either.

What do you think, Camden Chatters? How will Mancini’s story in Baltimore play out?

Poll

What will the Orioles ultimately do with Trey Mancini?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    They’ll trade him within the next season and a half.
    (492 votes)
  • 19%
    They’ll sign him to a contract extension.
    (157 votes)
  • 19%
    They’ll let him play out the string in 2022 and he’ll elect free agency.
    (160 votes)
809 votes total Vote Now

Links

From woodworking to hitting, Orioles No. 5 MLB draft pick Colton Cowser brings special hands and ‘enthusiasm to grind’ - Baltimore Sun
Oh sure, but when I list “special hands and an enthusiasm to grind” on my job applications, I never get a call back. Such a double standard!

Orioles enter full-squad reset before second half - School of Roch
I'm not sure a four-day reset is going to do much good for the Orioles, unless they can reset with, like, an 80 percent more talented roster.

Orioles 2021 MLB Draft review: Hitters early, pitchers late and college players everywhere – The Athletic
Dan Connolly recaps the Orioles' college-heavy draft. Who would have there were as many high schoolers to have won the Nobel Prize as there were to be drafted by the 2021 Orioles?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! The only player in O’s history born on this day is right-hander James Baldwin (50), who pitched 20 games for the Birds in 2005. I hear he was a heck of an author, too.

July 15 has been an eventful day in history for some prominent Orioles:

  • On this day in 1960, Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson became the first player in O’s history to hit for the cycle, opening the club’s second half of the season with a 5-for-5 performance in a 5-2 win over the White Sox. Brooks began his day with a single, homered in the third, singled again in the fifth, doubled in the seventh, and then got the hardest part of the cycle — the triple — to drive in two runs in the ninth inning.
  • On this date in 1996, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. — who had played 2,216 consecutive games at shortstop — was moved to third base by manager Davey Johnson, his first start there in 14 years. So who was the up-and-coming shortstop so amazing that Cal had to be moved over? It was...Manny Alexander. Yikes. The experiment lasted just six games before Cal moved back to short for the rest of the season, though he shifted to third base permanently when the O’s signed shortstop Mike Bordick the following year.
  • And on this day in 2005, the Orioles’ Rafael Palmeiro laced his 3,000th career hit, just the 26th player in MLB history to do so (and only the fourth with both 3,000 hits and 500 homers). He reached the milestone with a fifth-inning double in Seattle, as Mariners fans gave him a prolonged standing ovation and Palmeiro embraced all his teammates one by one. Just over two weeks later, Palmeiro was suspended 10 games by MLB for a positive PED test, effectively ending his career and ruining his Hall of Fame chances.