2016 Fantasy Baseball: Baltimore Orioles Aquire Mark Trumbo
The Seattle Mariners made it their mission this offseason to move the right-handed power bat of Mark Trumbo before Wednesday’s non-tender deadline hit at 11PM CST. Trade talks had begun heating up on Tuesday, and the M’s were able to reach an agreement with the Orioles to send Trumbo to Baltimore in exchange for veteran catcher Steve Clevenger and a player to be named later.
The move gives Seattle the ability to platoon the left-handed hitting Clevenger with righty Chris Iannetta behind the plate and allows the team to give 24-year old Mike Zunino a bit more time to develop in Triple-A as he’s only mustered a .193 batting average in 1055 career plate appearances in the big leagues. The trade also gives Seattle more payroll flexibility as Trumbo has been projected to make approximately $9M this coming season.
Clevenger, who will turn 30 in the first week of April, has been up and down between the majors and the minors in the Orioles and Chicago Cubs organizations with a career .785 OPS at the Triple-A level; however, Clevenger will need to stay with the big league club all season, or he will need to be released if things don’t work out in Seattle. Baltimore had planned to use him in a platoon role as well, but Clevenger became expendable once former All-Star Matt Wieters accepted his qualifying offer to return to the O’s.
The deal makes sense for the Orioles in a lot of ways. After winning 96 games and advancing to the American League Championship series in 2014, the O’s struggled to replace the departed Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in their corner outfield spots and fell to .500 in 2015 despite phenomenal seasons from Manny Machado and Chris Davis — the latter being a free agent this offseason having declined a qualifying offer from the team. Baltimore will continue to pursue Davis, but as a Scott Boras client, he will command a lot of money on the open market, and it’s still up in the air as to whether the organization can bring him back or not.
Regardless if Davis stays or goes, Trumbo fits in well with the ballclub. While his defensive metrics are not great at any position, Trumbo gives the Orioles the same versatility that Davis did having the ability to play first base, left or right field, and a bit of third base as well. He figures to be the ballclub’s starting first baseman or DH on opening day, but if Davis returns, he could also fill one of the vacancies in the Oriole outfield. Also, assuming whomever signs Davis will get a player somewhere in the middle of his 2014 and 2015 numbers, Trumbo’s power averages from 2011 to 2013 are definitely comparable to Davis. 2014 was an injury year for Trumbo, and he split time between two teams and two different leagues in 2015, so there is a strong possibility that he returns to the player he was with the Angels rather than staying the player he has been the last couple seasons.
It’s worth noting for the Orioles and for fantasy baseball managers that Mark Trumbo is actually trending in a positive direction. Even with the difficulties of recovering from injury and switching league’s mid-season, Trumbo has been improving his approach at the plate. He got his batting average back up to .262 last year, which is around where he was during his All-Star campaign in 2012, but he’s also cut back on his strikeouts by not chasing as many pitches out of the zone. Trumbo’s contact percentage is back up to where it was in 2012 at about 72% according to Baseball Info Solutions, but he’s continued to drop his O-Swing% (the percent of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone) every season.
Trumbo is also moving to a very hitter friendly park at Camden Yards, particularly for right handed hitters, as opposed to having to play his home games at the spacious Safeco Field or Angel Stadium. I believe even if it takes Trumbo a bit of time to get acclimated to his new team and he has a slow start, you could absolutely pencil him in for 30 home runs in 2016.