Could Trumbo become trade chip later?

The number of Orioles free agents is miniscule, with only Adam Jones and Colby Rasmus representing - and the latter feels like a mere technicality after the club placed him on the restricted list and he headed home to be with his family.

Mark Trumbo will be eligible after next year’s World Series, with the team he’s leaving to be determined. Though he’s currently with the Orioles, recovering from surgery on his right knee, he’s a potential trade chip at the non-waiver deadline if healthy and able to entice a contender with his power.

The surgery to repair cartilage, which left Trumbo navigating the clubhouse on crutches in September, eliminated any chance of moving him over the winter. He has $13.5 million left as he approaches the final year of his $37.5 million deal, and limited no-trade protection.

Trumbo can block deals to seven clubs annually.

The remaining salary is far from crippling, and he’d be a tremendous bargain if able to duplicate his 2016 season, when he led the majors with 47 home runs and drove in 108 runs to earn his first Silver Slugger Award.

Trumbo-Strikes-Out-Gray-sidebar.jpgAfter appearing in 159 games prior to re-signing with the Orioles, Trumbo has played in 146 and 90 over the past two seasons. He’s hit 23 and 17 home runs and totaled 65 and 44 RBIs. His slash line did improve from .234/.289/.397 to .261/.313/.452, but injuries put him on the disabled list to start the 2018 season and brought it to a premature ending.

In another cruel twist for Trumbo, he batted .304/.322/.571 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 16 August games before the Orioles had to shut him down. He finally got on a roll and the knee wouldn’t allow it to continue.

If Trumbo can pick up where he left off - and there’s really no momentum in baseball, and that’s especially true when the separation is an entire offseason - a market could develop for him by July.

Fans tend to go a little easier on Trumbo because they’re preoccupied with the scant return on Chris Davis’ seven-year, $161 million contract.

Former executive vice president Dan Duquette traded for Trumbo following the 2015 season in anticipation of Davis leaving as a free agent, but the first baseman received the largest contract in franchise history and the sound of it backfiring can be heard ‘round the world.

The Orioles won’t find a market for Davis, but perhaps this is where the link to Trumbo will be snapped.

* MLBTradeRumors.com published its annual free agent predictions on Friday, and the Orioles aren’t tabbed to sign anyone in the Top 50.

Jones, listed at No. 46, is projected to sign a one-year, $8 million deal with the Indians. On the opposite end, Manny Machado, at No. 2, is projected to sign with the Phillies for $390 million over 13 years.

Sound crazy? The site has Bryce Harper at No. 1 receiving a 14-year contract from the Dodgers worth $420 million.

Zach Britton, at No. 18, is projected to sign a three-year, $33 million contract with the Astros, who came close to landing him at the 2017 non-waiver deadline. The site has Brad Brach at No. 41 going to the Brewers on a two-year, $12 million deal.

* Other than Triple-A manager Ron Johnson moving on, the only changes I’ve heard so far among the Orioles’ affiliates involve Single-A Frederick pitching coach Blaine Beatty and short-season Single-A Aberdeen strength and conditioning coach Chris Cecere. They won’t be back in 2019.

Beatty has bounced around the organization like a rubber ball, serving as Keys pitching coach from 2006 through 2008, moving down a notch to Single-A Delmarva in 2009, returning to Frederick in 2010 and staying there through 2012, moving up to Double-A Bowie for 2013-2014, going back down to Delmarva from 2015 through 2016 and spending the past two seasons with Frederick.

The Orioles selected Beatty in the fifth round of the 1984 “January regular phase draft,” the first round of the “June secondary phase” and the ninth round of the “June amateur draft.” The system has changed over the years.

Beatty appeared in seven games with the Mets from 1989 through 1991. He won’t be involved in any games in the Orioles’ system in 2019.

Cecere spent eight seasons in the system - one each with the Gulf Coast League team and Bowie, five with Frederick and one with Aberdeen.

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