Mancini as possible replacement for Trumbo (and other notes)

Though the Orioles don’t currently project Trey Mancini as an outfielder, they continue to tie him to Mark Trumbo and the veteran’s potential departure in free agency.

I’ve talked to multiple people who bring up Mancini’s name as a possible replacement for Trumbo. It’s a clear indication that Mancini is expected to break camp with the team next spring in whatever role.

“I can tell you that (Trumbo) had a great year, obviously. He led the league in home runs and we like what he did,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said last week.

“We do have a capable replacement in Trey Mancini and we also have Christian Walker. (Mancini) can hit. Here’s another guy who’s a career .320 lifetime hitter, won the Eastern League batting title and he uses all fields. And we saw his power when he came up in September. He hit three home runs. He rakes against left-handed pitching. But he can also play a position.

Trey-Mancini-watches-white-sidebar.jpg“He can play first and he can hit right- and left-handed pitching. He’s got the kind of swing where he uses the whole field, so he’s a very, very capable player and it looks to me like he’s ready to step in and help us in the big leagues.”

I’ve wondered if the Orioles would worry about stunting Mancini’s development by having him sit on their bench instead of playing every day at Triple-A Norfolk.

“If he was younger and he signed out of high school, I might adopt that position that he needs additional time in the minors, but you saw Manny come up from Double-A and went to the big leagues and he hit better in the big leagues,” Duquette said.

“This kid hit, what, better than .330 at Double-A? Went to Triple-A and hit .290. That’s a tough ballpark to hit in at Norfolk. He went to Notre Dame for three years. He’s got his degree. He’s 24 years old. It looked to me like he was ready to play in the big leagues.

“Right now, we need a right fielder, we need a DH, and depending on whether (Hyun Soo) Kim can play every day in left field, we may need a platoon partner for him. So there’s three spots where a right-handed hitter or let’s say Trey Mancini could conceivably get some at-bats.

“I don’t know if he can play the outfield. He played it in a summer college league. I don’t know if he could do it here. But he can hit. It’s in the book.”

The Orioles will attempt to re-sign Trumbo, who’s projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to receive a four-year, $60 million deal as a free agent.

“Obviously, we like Mark,” Duquette said. “He had the best year of his career with us. I think his market will develop here pretty quickly, although you never know. He has that qualifying offer. In the event that we don’t sign him and he signs with somebody else, we get a draft pick, which is good.

“We can add to our players in the minor leagues. At that point in the draft, provided the rules don’t change in the negotiations between the players and the owners, we should be able to get a good player. It’s not like if we don’t sign Mark Trumbo, we’re going away with nothing, because we made the qualifying offer and he turned it down.”

* The Orioles’ payroll continues to climb to record levels, reaching around $150 million this season. They don’t expect to make any “splashy” moves this winter, but they’ll need to dig deep in their pockets to pay arbitration-eligible players such as Zach Britton, Manny Machado, Chris Tillman, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop.

Here are the projected salaries from MLBTradeRumors.com:

Chris Tillman - $10.6MM
Ryan Flaherty - $1.7MM
Zach Britton - $11.4MM
Vance Worley - $3.3MM
Brad Brach - $2.9MM
Manny Machado - $11.2MM
Jonathan Schoop - $3.4MM
T.J. McFarland - $700K
Kevin Gausman - $3.9MM
Caleb Joseph - $1.0MM

I asked Duquette whether we could expect another increase in payroll in 2017.

“That’s really up to the ownership to set the payroll, but we’ve increased the payroll every year that I’ve been here because the fans have come out and they’ve been so great to support the Orioles,” Duquette said. “They continue to do that. They watch us on TV on MASN, they come out to the ballpark. They supported us, almost 2.2 million (this) year. And that’s why we can increase the payroll, because the fans are coming out.

“They like the team and they like that we’ve been competitive and been in the playoffs for three of the last five years. So to the extent that they keep coming out and supporting us, we’re going to put as much of that resource as we can toward the major league payroll and having a good team every year.”

* Triple-A infielder Corban Joseph, younger brother of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals.

Joseph hit .305/.362/.435 in 85 games with Norfolk after moving up from Double-A Bowie in May. He elected free agency in November.

Joseph has played third base, second base, first base and left field in the minors. I wanted to take a look at him in spring training and check whether he could be a utility player, but he may not be strong enough defensively.

The Nats also signed former Orioles first-round pick Brandon Snyder.

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