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Orioles, Trey Mancini avoid arbitration, add mutual option for 2023

Mancini gets $7.75 million guaranteed, with a 2023 mutual option worth $10 million. Not bad.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers
The Orioles and Trey Mancini won’t be headed for an arbitration hearing after all.
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles and Trey Mancini won’t be headed to an arbitration hearing over this season’s salary after all. Despite proclaiming a “file and trial” stance towards negotiating after the exchange of salary numbers, the O’s kept negotiating and they reached a deal with Mancini. In addition to settling on a salary for 2022, the O’s and Mancini also agreed to add a mutual option for the 2023 season.

The new negotiated contract for Mancini calls for him to receive a $7.5 million salary for the 2022 season, with a $250,000 buyout if either side declines to exercise a $10 million option for 2023. The Athletic’s Dan Connolly was the first to report on the terms of the deal after the team announced the agreement on Saturday night.

In practice, the mutual option does not mean a whole lot. It is an unusual circumstance for team and player to both want to exercise an option. If Mancini doesn’t return to closer to his 2019 form, the team probably won’t have him in its near-future plans. If Mancini does get back to that 2019 form or even exceeds it, then he’ll want to decline the option to see what he can get on the free agent market. The most likely outcome is one side or the other will not want to pick up the option.

For now, though, there’s little downside to the deal. The team had filed for a $7.375 million salary for Mancini in arbitration. Mancini’s ask was $8 million. The midpoint between those two numbers is very close to the $7.75 million that Mancini is now guaranteed between 2022 salary and the buyout.

In the event that Mancini is traded during the season, then the Orioles will not be the team on the hook for that buyout. Whatever team has Mancini at season’s end is the team who would be responsible for making the mutual option decision and paying the buyout if it is not picked up.

The Orioles avoid having to go to a hearing with Mancini and will not get any egg on their face for trying to nickel and dime a fan favorite player. That might be worth an extra few hundred grand on its own. They’ve done right by Mancini and found something fair for both sides.

Now they just might get egg on their face for trying to nickel and dime the guy who threw the franchise’s first no-hitter since 1969 last year. The Orioles and John Means were $400,000 apart, with the O’s filing at $2.7 million and $3.1 million. Since they’re not sticking to “file and trial” after all, I hope they can just reach an agreement in the middle for $2.9 million and move on with their lives.