The Mariners weren’t interested in paying Mark Trumbo $9.1MM this year, so they dealt him and left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser to the Orioles last December for backup catcher Steve Clevenger. Almost a year later, it’s fair to say the Orioles made out well in the trade. Trumbo has slashed .250/.312/.526 with a major league-leading 45 home runs in 638 plate appearances, while Clevenger added little to the Mariners before earning a suspension for controversial tweets Friday.
Trumbo’s latest homer came Saturday for the contending Orioles, who picked up a 6-1 victory over the Diamondbacks to improve to 84-71. Baltimore currently holds a half-game lead on the second wild-card spot in the American League, and it’s arguable whether the team would be in a playoff position without Trumbo’s offensive output. For their part, the Orioles are thrilled with what Trumbo has contributed, as Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.
“He’s an excellent veteran player,” general manager Dan Duquette said. “I really like what he’s done for our team. He’s got some really good personal qualities that add to the ballclub.”
Meanwhile, Trumbo – who has also played for the Angels and Diamondbacks – raved about his time with the Orioles.
“It’s been the most enjoyable season I’ve had … from the group of guys in the clubhouse to the winning they’ve done on the field,” Trumbo told Schmuck.
While there’s clearly respect between the two sides, it’s uncertain whether they’ll be able to work out a new deal to prevent Trumbo from leaving Baltimore as a free agent after the season. The Orioles hope Trumbo accepts a $16.7MM qualifying offer to remain with the team in 2017, per Schmuck, who notes that’s probably unrealistic. Odds are Trumbo will land a lucrative multiyear deal, but whether he’s worth one is up in the air. While the 30-year-old ranks 18th in the majors in homers (176) and 30th in ISO (.220) since debuting in 2010, he hasn’t brought much to the table aside from above-average power.
Trumbo’s subpar career walk rate (6.7 percent) has helped produce a .302 on-base percentage, and he hasn’t offered value on the base paths or defensively, having primarily lined up in the outfield and at first base. The lion’s share of Trumbo’s action this year has come in right field, and he currently rates as the majors’ 13th-worst outfielder in Defensive Runs Saved (minus-13) among those who have logged at least 500 innings. He’s also 17th from the bottom in Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-7.7).
Offensively, this season has been a tale of two halves for Trumbo. He batted an outstanding .288/.341/.582 with 28 HRs in 375 PAs before the All-Star break, but he has hit just .187/.263/.430 with a still-impressive 17 long balls in 259 trips to the plate since. In total, the package has been worth a mediocre 1.5 fWAR, though FanGraphs indicates that Trumbo has given the Orioles $12.2MM in value this season, thereby outproducing his salary.
Going forward, it’s questionable whether the career .250/.302/.470 hitter will be able to provide bang for a team’s buck on a more expensive contract. The Orioles already have one well-compensated slugger, first baseman Chris Davis, locked up through 2022 at $23MM per annum. Davis hasn’t performed to expectations in Year 1 of his deal, which could weigh on the Orioles’ minds when considering re-signing Trumbo. At the same time, they’re clearly cognizant of Trumbo’s power.
“His performance in terms of hitting the ball out of the ballpark and driving in runs is certainly worth a significant investment,” Duquette said.