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After long process, Trumbo ends up exactly where he wanted to be

Posted on 27 January 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Free agency didn’t play out exactly how Mark Trumbo envisioned, but the slugger ended up where he wanted to be all along.

A week after signing a three-year, $37.5 million contract to remain with the Orioles, Trumbo expressed happiness in being able to stay where he found a comfort zone in 2016 after being traded three times in a two-year period. The 31-year-old knows Oriole Park at Camden Yards suits him well after enjoying a career season and helping Baltimore to its third postseason appearance of the last five years.

“I always held out a lot of hope that there would be an opportunity here down the road, which is fortunately what ended up happening,” Trumbo said. “If there were competitive offers on the table — even if this one had been a little bit lower — this was my first choice.”

Of course, it was a surprise to Trumbo that no other competitive offers truly materialized. Projected by many to receive upwards of $60 million on a four- or five-year deal, he found a cooler-than-expected market for his services despite hitting a career-high 47 home runs to lead the majors.

The story played out much like the previous winter with first baseman Chris Davis, who envisioned a $200 million contract before finally agreeing to a seven-year, $161 million deal that included $42 million deferred. Trumbo wasn’t the only free-agent slugger to sign for less than anticipated this winter as he even cited other hitters — such as Mike Napoli — who still remain on the market.

There were plenty of highs and lows in the negotiations with the Orioles while few other clubs even remained in the mix. Trumbo said there were a few other offers that had some appeal early in the offseason, but others were easy to forgo as he hoped to work something out with Baltimore.

“You kind of go into it thinking you might have a ton of suitors,” said Trumbo, whose value was depressed since another clubs would have needed to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. “You lead the league in home runs [and think], ‘Who’s not interested in that?’ And then you realize that there aren’t that many vacancies at times for what you do, especially this year.”

Despite Trumbo’s impressive ability to hit home runs, his defensive limitations and lack of ideal plate discipline likely kept other suitors away. His career .303 on-base percentage isn’t ideal while defensive metrics and most observers perceive him to be a liability as an outfielder, diminishing his appeal to any National League clubs who didn’t have an opening at his best defensive position — first base.

With the offseason acquisition of veteran outfielder Seth Smith from the Seattle Mariners — who played with Trumbo in 2015 — the Orioles are likely to use Trumbo primarily as a designated hitter against right-handed starters. However, Smith’s struggles against southpaw pitching could prompt manager Buck Showalter to use Trumbo in right field against lefty starters.

He could also make an occasional start at first to spell Davis, who was a finalist for the 2016 American League Gold Glove. Trumbo said he hasn’t been told how he’d be used in 2017 and described his outfield defense as “adequate” after he made 95 starts in right field a year ago.

“I definitely don’t think I’m a liability out there,” said Trumbo, who acknowledged the widespread criticism of his outfield defense. “If Buck chooses to put me out there, I’m going to do everything I can to play a good right field, left field, wherever needed on the defensive side. But if I end up DH-ing most of the time, that would be great, too.”

With the financial part of the decision finally behind him, Trumbo expressed his content over being able to remain in a clubhouse in which he fit well last year. His dependable and cerebral approach to the game was praised by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who said he received a text of approval from All-Star third baseman Manny Machado after the news of the signing broke.

In his first season with the club, Trumbo quickly earned the respect of his coaches and teammates. Those same teammates were mentioned repeatedly as a big reason why the slugger was so glad to be staying.

“I beat that to death, but it really is true,” Trumbo said. “I think the way I was welcomed coming into spring training last year. As a new player, which I was trying to tell Seth Smith recently, you’re going to love it here. They just know how to make you feel comfortable right away. That, in turn, allows you to go out and play your best baseball.”

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Ten observations on why Baltimore sports fans aren’t going to Orioles games

Posted on 15 September 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

My story and history with Peter G. Angelos is pretty well told. There are many “insider observations” that I know and have lived that shall remain private for now but it’s pretty obvious that I’m a journalist who has been intimidated and lied to by them for so long now – and in so many ways – that it could only make sense to someone who has witnessed the past few months of this presidential race.

If you’re one of the low information people who think it’s “no big deal” or justified to ban any legitimate media member who asks fair questions and has the accountability and public availability that I’ve had in the Baltimore sports media marketplace for 25 years, then you should simply move on because you’re the type that doesn’t want to deal with the facts. Your bar is lower than it should be.

I promised some fair thoughts today on why YOU and many other citizens of Maryland and fans of the Baltimore Orioles don’t go to the games as regularly as perhaps you once did. I wrote a blog earlier this week about why I don’t go to games and actively give Peter G. Angelos my money.

So if the question is: “Why are there so many empty seats at Camden Yards for Orioles baseball games in height of pennant race?”

Consider these mostly global thoughts:

1. Washington has a baseball team. This was the worst nightmare of Peter G. Angelos. When he sat with me in 1997 (and mostly lied to me), he also predicted that if D.C. got a team it would “split” the fanbase and make for two “mediocre” franchises (back when attendance mattered more than the siphoning of cable TV revenue).

 

Those fans south of Laurel who love the Nationals are long, long gone. And they’re not coming back. And there are a LOT of them.

2.People simply have other things to do and other interests. Kids sports leagues. Various other sports and hobbies and passions. Family issues. Work. Church. Civic Issues. Festivals. The beach. Pokemon? The world has changed since 1966 when the Baltimore Orioles had a summer monopoly on civic pride and evening stoop soap opera. Peter Angelos is competing with anything and everything inside your mobile device. He’s not #winning your hearts.

3.It ain’t cheap. And it ain’t as cheap as it used to be. Tickets are easy to get but not so cheap as to not make it a decision. My wife and I want to go next Thursday night for the final game of David Ortiz. (She’s a Red Sox fan. This is pretty well documented.)       boston-day-4-25 The whole process feels like I’m waiting out a stock because the “get ins” on the roof are $18. If the game matters, perhaps demand will sky rocket and everyone will want to be there. But, the Orioles could also be five games out and fighting for their lives. I buy from the secondary market whenever I do go and it’s a weird market. It’s also clear they’re spreading out the sales of the seats to make the bowl look more full and manipulating them on Stubhub. The jacking up of prices for key games – while industry standard – is a tacky business move and hasn’t just backfired here in Baltimore. The elimination of discount nights smacks of another greedy Angelos idea. And the beer and concession prices – and the quality of the food – speaks for itself. Not to be a dick – but where in life is there a more expensive and generally crappy decision than buying food at a sporting event than at an arena, theatre or stadium? We’re all kinda blind to it but there’s nowhere else on the planet you feel comfortable paying $12 for a draft beer, $10 for leathery chicken tenders or $8 for a cold hot dog or $4.50 for a bottle of water. It’s obscene – but acceptable in America. But, still…not cheap. There are many folks who would love to go an Orioles game who simply can’t afford to go more than once a month or once a season. From the tickets, the parking, the concessions and the time invested, it’s just not a cheap night out for the family or even a date. It’s a decision made with your wallet as much as your heart. Meanwhile, the place sits empty most nights. MORE…

 

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Next steps all that matter after Orioles pull Davis offer

Posted on 12 December 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Amid the praise being heaped upon the Orioles for offering free-agent Chris Davis a reported $150 million deal, Matt Wieters made the truest statement of all at Saturday’s FanFest.

Asked if the pursuit of the slugging first baseman was a message to future free agents that the organization will spend the necessary money to keep great players, Wieters was complimentary of Davis’ talents and of Baltimore as a place to play while stating the truth about any offseason activity.

“Ultimately, you’ve got to get it done,” Wieter said, “and you’ve got to be able to sign the final contract to say you’ve gone out there and spent that money.”

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette confirmed Saturday that the Orioles had pulled their offer to the 29-year-old who led the major leagues in home runs in both 2013 and 2015.

It’s become apparent that the Orioles aren’t willing to wait around. Whether that means talks will resume with agent Scott Boras remains to be seen, but Duquette made it clear that the organization is exploring alternatives, particularly in the outfield after Mark Trumbo was acquired earlier this month as a viable option to play first base.

The door may not be locked shut for Davis to return, but it appears that Boras may need to use the doorbell to regain the Orioles’ attention if no other club makes a higher offer in the coming days and weeks.

“I’m not exactly sure where that’s going to end up,” Duquette said. “We’ve been very aggressive on that front and that didn’t yield a deal. At some point, we’re going to have to look at some other options. I can tell you this, we’re going to have a good ball club, either way.”

Determining that they’ve reached their spending limit with the first baseman is fine, but walking away from the negotiating table without any alternative already in place feels like a risky proposition. Asked during a fan forum on Saturday whether the $150 million allocated by owner Peter Angelos for a Davis deal is available for other free-agent targets, Duquette said that it was, but the money may not all be spent this winter.

And this is where the Orioles must prove themselves to be serious about doing what it takes to improve their club for 2016 and beyond. To praise the fact that they tried to re-sign Davis is well and good, but it’s meaningless if Duquette and the Orioles do not make any other high-impact acquisitions in the aftermath of Boras and Davis passing on their offer.

If Davis is ultimately deemed too expensive, the organization can’t then say the likes of Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, and Scott Kazmir are too costly as well. Otherwise, it’s just the same old unwillingness to spend for premium talent on the open market after allowing the likes of Davis, Nelson Cruz, and Andrew Miller to depart in recent offseasons.

Did the Orioles make a fair offer to Davis? Yes, but Boras is notorious for waiting as long as he can for the best deal. Duquette had to know this was a distinct possibility and has no excuse not to be prepared.

If the Orioles want to be praised for offering $150 million to Davis, they will turn his rejection into other high-impact additions to help their cause for 2016.

Anything less will make the Davis pursuit feel like it was all for show before ultimately throwing up their hands and saying, “Hey, at least we tried.”

Talking about spending money is one thing.

Actually doing it is another, especially when there are plenty of attractive options remaining on the market not named Chris Davis.

They’ve got to get it done.

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Orioles tender arbitration-eligible players, acquire catcher

Posted on 02 December 2015 by Luke Jones

Dan Duquette had a busy Wednesday, and that’s not even counting finalizing the acquisition of slugger Mark Trumbo and relief pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser from Seattle in exchange for catcher Steve Clevenger.

The Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations also acquired catcher Francisco Pena from Kansas City for cash considerations. The 26-year-old batted .251 with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs in 95 games with Triple-A Omaha this past season and appeared in nine major league games for the Royals over the last two years.

To make room for Pena on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated infielder Paul Janish for assignment. The slick-fielding 33-year-old hit .286 in 14 games with Baltimore this past season.

The biggest event of the day was the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, and the Orioles did exactly that with infielders Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty, right-handed pitchers Brad Brach, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman, lefties Brian Matusz and Zach Britton, and Trumbo. Baltimore agreed to one-year contracts with outfielder Nolan Reimold and right-hander Vance Worley to avoid arbitration with both.

The club and tendered players will exchange salary figures in January with arbitration hearings then scheduled for February. In most cases, the parties settle terms before ever going to arbitration.

The Orioles did not tender a contract to outfielder David Lough, making him a free agent. Last season, the 29-year-old was designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk before having his contract selected in late September, but a .201 average in 84 games made him expendable.

Janish and right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson were also non-tendered after both had been designated for assignment earlier in the day.

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Orioles extend qualifying offers to Wieters, Chen, Davis

Posted on 06 November 2015 by Luke Jones

With free agency officially opening at midnight on Saturday morning, the Orioles face their most critical offseason in recent memory if they plan to remain competitive in 2016 and beyond.

As expected, the club made qualifying offers — one-year, $15.8 million contracts for the 2016 season — to first baseman Chris Davis, starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, and catcher Matt Wieters on Friday afternoon. If any — or all — of the three rejects the offer and signs with another club, the Orioles are then awarded a supplemental first-round pick in the 2016 draft.

A club signing a player who previously rejected a qualifying offer from his original club must then forfeit its first- or second-round pick based on its 2015 record.

The Orioles were always expected to make qualifying offers to Davis and Chen, but there was some doubt as to whether they’d extend one to Wieters. With the 29-year-old catching only 55 games a year removed from Tommy John surgery, some had wondered if the Orioles would refrain in fear of him accepting a hefty one-year salary and impacting the rest of their offseason budget.

However, Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, has been one of the harshest critics of the qualifying offer system, making it unlikely that he would accept one on behalf of his client. Considering Wieters’ heavy workload early in his career and that he’s one of only a handful of major league catchers to have the serious elbow procedure over the years, it will be interesting to see what kind of market exists for the three-time All-Star selection, especially with a club now needing to forfeit a draft draft pick to sign him.

Baltimore has three other free agents — reliever Darren O’Day and outfielders Gerardo Parra and Steve Pearce — who did not receive qualifying offers, but the club has expressed interest in re-signing all three.

The Orioles also announced on Friday that they had selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Chris Jones from Triple-A Norfolk. The 27-year-old went 8-8 with a 2.94 ERA in 150 innings last season.

“Chris Jones has compiled two good years at Triple-A since becoming a starter and really improved his control in 2015,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a statement. “By continuing to pitch well in the Dominican Republic this winter, he has earned his spot on the roster.”

This move leaves the Orioles with 36 players on their current 40-man roster.

With a New York state judge throwing out an arbitration decision regarding rights fees owed to the Washington Nationals by Orioles-controlled MASN on Wednesday, many fans hope that means an increase in payroll to re-sign Davis as well and upgrade the starting pitching and outfield situations after Buck Showalter’s club failed to have a winning season for the first time since 2011. However, it remains to be seen if that will have any tangible effect after the Orioles had a payroll just under $119 million on Opening Day, according to Baseball Prospectus.

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Orioles send Roe to 15-day DL with shoulder tendinitis

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles bullpen remains in flux as right-handed pitcher Chaz Roe was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis.

Right-handed pitcher Mychal Givens was recalled from Double-A Bowie to replace him as Baltimore began a three-game series in Seattle on Monday night.

Roe is 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 34 2/3 innings this season, striking out 35 and walking 13. The 28-year-old pitched brilliantly with a 0.90 ERA in his first 15 appearances since being promoted from the minors in late May, but his 6.14 ERA in 14 2/3 innings dating back to June 30 created cause for concern. He allowed a leadoff double in the bottom of the 11th inning in Sunday’s 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

After previously pitching in the majors for Arizona and the New York Yankees, Roe signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles last winter.

The 25-year-old Givens had pitched four scoreless innings in two brief stints with the Orioles this season before being optioned back to Bowie to make room for Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia last week, a move met with criticism in the midst of a pennant race. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the Orioles traded veteran right-hander Tommy Hunter on July 31 to make room for the talented Givens in the bullpen.

Givens, a former shortstop in the Baltimore farm system, pitched to a 1.73 ERA with 15 saves in 57 1/3 innings for the Baysox this season.

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