As the Braves look at potential options in left field, they’ve inquired with the Orioles about Trey Mancini’s availability, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who adds that there’s been “nothing serious” discussed between the two parties to this point. Interest in Mancini is rather logical for a Braves club that is still seeking a middle-of-the-order bat but may not want to pay the prices necessary to re-sign Marcell Ozuna to a multi-year deal.
Mancini, 28, broke out with a career-best .291/.364/.535 showing with the Orioles in 2019 but missed the 2020 season after a frightening colon cancer diagnosis. The slugger underwent surgery and ultimately emerged victorious in his battle with cancer, announcing back in November that he was cancer-free after months of chemotherapy. No one can blame the Braves for coveting Mancini’s final two years of team control, but given that context and Mancini’s status as a clubhouse leader in Baltimore, it’d likely be tough for the O’s to part with him in a trade prior to the season. Even if the two sides were to engage in serious talks, one can imagine the asking price would be quite high.
There’s also the fact that while Mancini has played extensively in the outfield corners, he’s still a first baseman playing out of position there. That’s not a great fit with the Braves, given Freddie Freeman’s presence at first base. Notably, Baltimore general manager Mike Elias told reporters today that he expects Mancini to spend a lot more time at first base in 2021 (Twitter link via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko).
While a Mancini trade appears unlikely for several reasons, that probably won’t stop teams from calling. Elias acknowledged today every win-now club throughout the league is aware that the Orioles are willing to listen to offers for most of their roster as their rebuild trudges onward (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Joe Trezza). That, however, “doesn’t mean we’re going to do anything,” Elias added.
The O’s, in fact, could make a few more small-scale additions after signing shortstop Freddy Galvis to a one-year, $1.5MM deal yesterday. Galvis, to no one’s surprise, was tabbed as the primary shortstop by Elias, but the club could still be on the lookout for some versatile infield depth to back him up (via Kubatko). That’s likely due in no small part to the fact that infielder Richie Martin sustained a broken hamate bone in his left hand while working out this past weekend and will require surgery to repair the injury.
Based on prior timelines for that same injury, Martin could return midway through Spring Training — assuming it starts on time — but he’ll very likely be behind schedule. Baltimore’s agreement with Galvis was already wrapped up by the time Martin suffered the injury, Dan Connolly of The Athletic points out; the timing is merely coincidental.
On the pitching front, the Orioles are still looking to add to a thin mix. Kubatko notes that Elias mentioned Major League offers to starting pitchers are on the table for the Orioles, although the GM (as one would expect) provided no further specifics. Based on the team’s extremely limited spending and Connolly’s recent report that the O’s actually tried to defer the arbitration salaries of Mancini and outfielder Anthony Santander, it seems unlikely that they’ll spend any significant cash to upgrade the starting staff or bullpen. That said, even a split contract that comes with a 40-man roster spot and a big league salary around the $1MM mark would technically fit the criteria listed by Elias.
Last year, the Orioles added lefties Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc on low-cost minor league deals to round out the rotation early in the year. It’s not likely that they’ll shop in a much more expensive bin this time around, but there are still some affordable names left standing on the free-agent market.