Duquette and Trumbo on the trade
Mark Trumbo has always had a lot of respect for the Orioles from the opposing dugout, lauding several times during Wednesday’s conference call the team’s gritty play and the job of manager Buck Showalter. Now, Trumbo will get an up-close look.
Baltimore officially announced the the trade for the first baseman/designated hitter from Seattle in exchange for catcher Steve Clevenger, a deal that also brings left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser to Baltimore.
“I’ve always thought very highly of the way the Orioles compete on both sides of the ball, especially being a hitter I’ve always admired the at-bats the guys have been able to put together,” Trumbo said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
But can Trumbo —who is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $9.1 million in arbitration — share the roster with free agents Chris Davis and Steve Pearce? Before the trade, the Orioles already had committed around $93 million to next year’s roster, including projected arbitration rates, and they will now take on more than $8 million more given Clevenger’s modest salary.
“This isn’t the last move the club is going to make to put our team together for 2016,” said executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who has said made it clear several times that the team is interested in bringing back Davis. “I can’t tell you who we are going to sign in the future, but the addition of a proven Major League hitter like Mark Trumbo today lengthens our lineup and gives us another hitter in the lineup who can hit both left and right-handed pitching. And, in Mark’s case, [he] can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Duquette said he thinks Trumbo will be helped in particular by the centerfield fence at the hitter-friendly Camden Yards. After a rough first month with Seattle, Trumbo batted .302/.358/.490 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in his final 74 games. Defensively, Trumbo could see time at first base, even if the O’s do sign Davis — who can play right field — and also serve as designated hitter. Trumbo isn’t regarded as a strong defensive player, but if he can regain his power stroke from 2011-13, when he averaged more than 30 homers a season, it will give Baltimore a nice boost.
“Mark can play the outfield, he can also play first base, he’s not unfamiliar with playing DH,” Duquette said. “Just looking at his defensive capability it looks to me like his best position is first base, but he can play both of them.”
Trumbo said he has no problem at all with DH and noted that he’s most comfortable with first base because he’s spent the most time there. With the early December move, he’ll also have plenty of time to get comfortable with his new team.
“I would like to say it gets easier, but time will only really tell,” Trumbo said of being traded for the third time in his career. “Each time it happens to you, you got to have a few learning experiences and gather a little more information.
Fortunately I’ll have all Spring Training to get to know these guys, get to know the system…this is a scenario where I’ll have more than enough time to get acclimated to get into a rhythm. And once the season starts, I’ll be ready to go.”
Riefenhauser — the last piece of the deal agreed upon Wednesday — was acquired by Seattle as part of a six-player swap with the Rays last month and had a 6.30 ERA in 24 relief appearances with Tampa Bay over the previous two years.
“He’s a good left-handed relief prospect, he’s put up some really good numbers at Triple-A the last two years, had a little bit of an injury this year,” Duquette said. “He’s got an opportunity to help the club in 2016. [He’s] got a good mix of three pitches and we think he’ll be a helpful pitcher for us this year.”
The 29-year-old Clevenger has four years of team control remaining and is not arbitration-eligible, though he is out of Minor League options. The Baltimore native hit .287 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 101 at-bats in 30 Major League games last season, as well as .305 with a .375 on-base percentage in 75 games for Triple-A Norfolk.
To make room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Steve Johnson has been designated for assignment.