Can the Orioles afford to keep Mark Trumbo?

The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo hit 47 home runs this year to lead all of Major League Baseball. He hit four more than any other player. But will his next homer come for another team?

A free agent, Trumbo figures to garner some solid interest this winter and he could be in line for a sizable payday - one featuring a multi-year contract that the Orioles deem too rich to compete with.

After the Orioles lost in the American League wild card game, Trumbo said yet again that he would like to be back next year.

“I love it here,” he said. “Had a great time and I’m sure we’ll talk at some point. Who wouldn’t (want to come back)? It has been an absolute blast this year.”

trumbo-jones-high-fives-wild-card.jpgTrumbo hit .256 with 47 homers, 108 RBIs, a .533 slugging percentage and an .850 OPS. He ranked tied for sixth in the AL in RBIs and he tied for ninth in slugging. He hit 28 homers in the first half and was selected to his second All-Star team.

Trumbo’s numbers slipped after that All-Star Game, but the homers kept coming. He hit .288 with an OPS of .923 before the break and .214/.754 after. But as his average dropped, he still hit home runs, including several very big ones. Even in August, when his batting average of .184 was his lowest for any month, he homered 10 times, his most of any month. He hit a two-run homer in the wild card game, the only hit to produce any runs for the Orioles in their season-ending loss at Toronto.

But right now there seem to be more reasons to let Trumbo walk then to extend him with a multi-year, big-dollar deal. This despite all his tremendous run production that was matched by how well he fit on this team. Trumbo was a quiet leader and fit seamlessly in the Orioles clubhouse. It was like he had been there for years.

But among the arguments working against keeping him are these:

* He is a below-average defensive outfielder.
* The Orioles will hit enough homers without him.
* The O’s could spend that money elsewhere, like on extensions for key players like Manny Machado, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton.
* He will turn 31 before next opening day and might have just had his career year.

The Orioles acquired Trumbo last December for backup catcher Steve Clevenger. Trumbo earned $9.15 million in 2016, making his run production a bargain by baseball standards.

But Trumbo had hit 36 homers over the previous two seasons in 2014-15. Will he ever match the season he had last year as he hits the other side of 30?

The Orioles could not have asked for more out of Trumbo than he provided the team in 2016. Despite that, and with a limited amount of dollars to spend and several players due for arbitration raises and/or extensions, can the Orioles afford to keep the major league homer leader?

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