In what has become standard operating procedure for them, the Baltimore Orioles have secured a power bat late in the offseason. It’s also the second consecutive season that they have kept one of their own. But where does Dan Duquette go from here after bringing back Mark Trumbo on a three-year deal?
Buck Showalter can pencil in his designated hitter for the next three campaigns. Trumbo will make occasional appearances in the outfield, but the team would much rather have a better defensive player take the field the majority of the time. As it stands, Seth Smith, Hyun-Soo Kim and Joey Rickard are the likely choices to man the outfield.
Each is a solid player in their own right, but it’s unlikely that the Orioles are done adding pieces.
It did not take long for the speculation to surface regarding what Trumbo’s signing means for players like Smith and Trey Mancini. Smith is likely to platoon at both corner outfield spots.. Without the signing, he could have possibly seen time at DH. That won’t be the case with Trumbo back on board.
Then there is Mancini, the biggest loser in the new deal. As Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com noted, he will likely start the season in the Triple-A, whether the O’s add another piece or not. He cannot play the outfield and his spot in the lineup is taken with Trumbo back. Plus, I am one who thinks that anybody penciling Mancini into the lineup every day (or even against lefties) was putting too much faith in the youngster.
It will be interesting to see what Trumbo’s return means for Pedro Alvarez. “El Toro” was terrific in his limited at bats and the O’s could still use another lefty power bat. It’s possible a reunion could come just before Spring Training once again. Remember, it was not until after Chris Davis signed his big contract that Alvarez was brought in last year. It was a perfect match then, and still is now.
Adding another outfielder is not out of the cards either. Rickard came back to Earth after a strong start last year. We expected great things from Travis Snider a few seasons ago and it did not pan out. Who is to say the same thing does not happen with Smith? It’s no guarantee that either maintains a spot on the 25-man roster all season. That’s why bringing back Michael Bourn or signing a player like Angel Pagan still makes sense.
But as it stands, this is your likely Opening Day lineup:
Realistically, Showalter would love to get Jones in the middle part of the order and have a more traditional player batting leadoff. We have heard possible interest in players with high on-base percentages, and the Orioles could still go in that direction. Regardless, this is a lineup that can compete in the American League East.
While not all my colleagues here agree with me, bringing back Trumbo at such a low figure was a solid move going forward. The Orioles are the same team they were last season – one capable of making the playoffs. One more piece could give them what they need to make the push back to the top of the AL East.