The Orioles haven’t engaged either first baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini or lefty John Means about a contract extension, reports Dan Connolly of The Athletic. Mancini is set to become a free agent at season’s end. Means is controlled through 2024.
It’s wholly unsurprising, as the Orioles haven’t had an appetite for any long-term investments during their ongoing rebuild. Even the one-year, $7MM deal they agreed to with right-hander Jordan Lyles prior to the lockout was seen as a surprise, as the O’s hadn’t previously given out more than a $3MM guarantee to any free agent since hiring general manager Mike Elias more than three years ago.
Still, as Connolly explores, the lack of an extension and the seemingly inevitable trade of Mancini — be it in the next couple weeks or this summer — will be a wildly unpopular move both among fans and in the clubhouse. Mancini, the 2021 Comeback Player of the Year, was already a fan favorite in Baltimore before overcoming stage-3 colon cancer and returning to the field with a generally productive 2021 season. He’s also entrenched as a clubhouse leader in Baltimore. The O’s will start spending money at some point once they’re ready to emerge from what’s now a four-year tanking effort, but at the moment they project to just a $64.5MM payroll — $23MM of which is dead money still owed to Chris Davis.
More from the AL East…
- Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez will likely see increased time in the outfield this season, writes Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. While Martinez will continue to operate as Boston’s primary designated hitter, manager Alex Cora also said this week that Martinez will likely start in right field against left-handed pitchers — effectively pushing Jackie Bradley Jr. (who’ll start in right field against right-handed pitchers) into a platoon role. There won’t be a set DH on days against left-handed opponents, as Cora said he’ll use those opportunities to keep others in the lineup fresh. Martinez has played primarily left field when he’s been on the outfield grass in recent years, but Cotillo notes that Cora’s preference is to keep Alex Verdugo in left, Enrique Hernandez in center, and not move the outfielders around so frequently.
- Veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez is in camp with the Yankees on a minor league deal, and manager Aaron Boone tells Dan Martin of the New York Post he hopes the switch-hitting Gonzalez will play his way into a roster spot, citing a desire for more versatility off his bench. “That’s something I think Tampa [Bay] has done a really good job of,” said Boone. “Their roster complements one another really well. I hope that’s the case with us.” Meanwhile, Newsday’s Erik Boland tweets that Gonzalez is “all but a lock” to make the Yankees’ roster despite having inked a minor league contract. The recent agreement to expand rosters to 28 players for the early portion of the season certainly can’t hurt Gonzalez’s chances. He’d earn a $1.15MM salary if he’s added to the big league roster.