For the second offseason in a row, the Orioles will re-sign baseball’s reigning home run champ.
Baltimore and slugger Mark Trumbo agreed on a three-year deal that was completed after he passed a physical on Friday. The total contract is worth around $37 million with some money deferred, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
The deal comes just a few days after the one-year anniversary of the Orioles agreeing to a seven-year, $161 million contract with Chris Davis, the 2015 home run champ. Of course, this negotiation involved far less money than last year’s with the Baltimore first baseman, but it played out in a similar fashion with highs and lows in the midst of a lukewarm market that included no other serious bidders for either slugger’s services.
Having already been traded three times in a two-year period, Trumbo made it clear near the end of the 2016 season that he hoped to stay in Baltimore where he felt comfortable playing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and fit in well with the rest of the clubhouse. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had recently expressed a preference to receive a compensatory pick for Trumbo’s potential departure, but the sides remained a fit with spring training less than a month away.
“We are happy that we were able to bring Mark Trumbo back to the Orioles,” Duquette said in a statement on Friday. “We like his presence in our lineup and professional work ethic along with the elite power he brings to our ballpark.”
Acquired from Seattle in exchange for backup catcher Steve Clevenger last offseason, Trumbo had a career year in Baltimore by hitting 47 home runs to go along with a .256 average, 108 runs batted in, and an .850 on-base plus slugging percentage. A sensational first half that included a .288 batting average and 28 home runs in 87 games earned Trumbo his second trip to the All-Star Game, and he accounted for the only Orioles scoring with a two-run shot in the American League wild-card game loss to Toronto.
Despite that success and a cheaper-than-expected price, Trumbo’s re-signing does not come without risk after he struggled mightily in the second half with a .214 average and a .284 on-base percentage over his final 292 plate appearances. The right-handed batter also finished with a putrid .173 average and .608 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2016.
The 31-year-old was also worth minus-11 defensive runs saved in the outfield, zapping much of his offensive value and bringing his wins above replacement to an ordinary 1.6.
Having acquired veteran Seth Smith from the Mariners earlier this month, the Orioles would be wise to play him in right field with Trumbo serving as their designated hitter as much as possible. However, Smith struggles mightily against left-handed pitching, which could open the door for Trumbo to play right field against southpaw starters.
With Thursday’s pending agreement, the Orioles are now projected to have a payroll north of $160 million on Opening Day, which would be a franchise record.