Mark Trumbo agreed on a three year, $37.5M deal with the Orioles on Thursday evening, and it was made official today. Most of Birdland rejoiced that last year’s MLB home run leader would be back and fill the designated hitter spot. However, many fans questioned why the front office didn’t make this type of move three years ago.
Nelson Cruz signed with the Orioles in 2014 and enjoyed one of his best seasons, leading MLB with 40 home runs. The former Ranger was only on a one-year deal with the team and looked to cash in on his huge season.
It was reported the Baltimore front office wanted to bring Cruz back, but that they weren’t willing to give the slugger the four-year deal that he wanted. This resulted in Cruz taking a four-year, $57M deal with the Mariners. Baltimore also lost Nick Markakis that offseason. To replace those guys, they went with Delmon Young and Travis Snider.
So why did the Orioles choose to pay Trumbo this time around?
The opinion here is that it’s because these are two different contract scenarios.
Cruz was 34-years-old when he hit the market and the Orioles have always been weary of giving aging veterans a long-term contract. He had also just come off his best season, hitting seven more home runs than his previous season-best back in 2009. It was hard to image than that Cruz would be able to sustain those numbers at an age when hitters normally see their numbers dip.
The Orioles were also caught up in a numbers game, knowing that Chris Davis was going to be a free agent the following season. It would have been harder to bring back Crush if the Orioles had given Cruz the money he wanted. That would have been a lot of money locked up for both power hitters, a fact that was likely on Dan Duquette’s mind.
Trumbo’s deal is more team-friendly. He’s only 31, and will hit the free agency once again at 34-years-old, which is when Cruz hit the market two years ago. He doesn’t offer much in the field, but $12.5M is also pretty affordable for a player who’s still in his prime years and could lead the MLB in home runs again. The front office did a good job in letting his market play out and getting his asking price to go down significantly. It also helps that the deal doesn’t affect the payroll significantly for more than three seasons (portions of Trumbo’s new deal will be paid over longer than the next three years), since the team still has to discuss extensions with other key players in the near future.
It’s easy to say the Orioles weren’t smart for letting Cruz walk, after seeing the type of production he’s had with the Mariners. However, hindsight is always 20/20 and Cruz has defied expectations.
Just be happy that the team was able to bring back Trumbo on a relatively team-friendly deal.