Trumbo rejects Orioles’ qualifying offer to become free agent

November 14, 2016 | Luke Jones

Outfielder Mark Trumbo rejected the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer on Monday, officially making him a free agent.

His decision to turn down the one-year offer was expected after Trumbo led the major leagues with 47 home runs in 2016. The Orioles will now receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round of the 2017 draft should Trumbo sign with another club this winter.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles have expressed interest in re-signing the 30-year-old to a long-term deal, but they would prefer to make him their regular designated hitter while upgrading their defense in right field. Despite a career-high .850 on-base plus slugging percentage to go along with 108 runs batted in, Trumbo finished at minus-11 defensive runs saved in the outfield, which damaged his overall value as a player.

Because of that below-average defense, Trumbo finished 11th on the 2016 Orioles in wins above replacement at 1.6, according to Baseball Reference.

His career season at the plate earned Trumbo an invitation to his second All-Star Game as well as a Silver Slugger Award, but he hit just .214 with a .754 OPS after the All-Star break. His .256 batting average for the season was just above his career .251 mark.

Trumbo is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to fetch a four-year, $60 million deal that wouldn’t be far off the four-year, $57 million contract Seattle gave former Oriole Nelson Cruz two years ago, but it remains to be seen how the draft-pick stipulation might impact Trumbo’s value on the open market, especially with a number of other attractive outfield options available.

Seven other major league free agents rejected qualifying offers from their former teams before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline: outfielders Jose Bautista (Toronto), Yoenis Cespedes (New York Mets), Ian Desmond (Texas), and Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs), first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (Toronto), closer Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers), and third baseman Justin Turner (Dodgers). Two players — Mets second baseman Neil Walker and Philadelphia starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson — accepted offers to remain with their current clubs for the 2017 season.

Trumbo becomes the fourth player to reject a qualifying offer from the Orioles over the last three offseasons, joining Cruz, starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, and first baseman Chris Davis. Of course, Davis eventually signed a seven-year, $161 million deal to remain in Baltimore last winter while Chen and Cruz signed elsewhere.