Trey Mancini understands both sides of the issue and he resides directly in the center of it.
The Orioles should make a long-term commitment to their best player and build around him. Or they should consider any trade proposals because they’d be selling high and the return could aid a process that isn’t happening overnight.
“They can take several courses of action,” Mancini said yesterday while standing at his locker before batting practice.
“I know they’re going to do whatever they think’s best for the organization and that’s their job. I respect whatever decision is made. It might not be a decision made, either. So the bottom line is I want to be here and I want to be here for a long time for sure.”
As far as Mancini knows, there hasn’t been any communication between the Orioles and agent Mark Rodgers of Frontline Athlete Management regarding an extension. Ownership doesn’t appear to be in a position to increase payroll, instead moving in the opposite financial direction as part of the teardown and rebuild.
“Honestly, I try to stay out of it,” Mancini said before going 1-for-3 last night with his first stolen base. “It’s something I’m not going to worry about. Maybe a little earlier on in my career or maybe even last year. Not worried about, but it’s something that I had mentioned. But I’m extremely interested in staying here. I want to stay here. I think everybody knows that.
“I know it’s maybe what I’m supposed to say, but it’s the God’s honest truth. It’s what I want. I want to play here for a long time. But on the flip side of that, baseball is obviously a business and they’ve got to make decisions that they think are best for the franchise for the long term, and whether that’s keeping me, I mean, I’d love for that to be the case.”
Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias wisely left all doors open when addressing the subject in a recent dugout media scrum. He appreciates everything that Mancini brings to the table, but that includes trade value.
“I don’t know if it’s even arguable, he’s the best player on our team right now,” Elias said. “A .900 OPS, he’s a sure-fire All-Star in my eyes, great in the clubhouse, home runs, hitting for average. You name it. So we’re not looking to part with Trey. That said, as I’ve said all along, we’re open to anything.
“We do have our sights set on the future a little bit and if we make the determination that if we end up making some kind of trade transaction with him or any player and we feel that what we’re getting back is better for the organization than what we’re giving up, then we’re going to listen on it, but he’s an integral part of this team and I hope he’s around for a while.”
It’s a little complicated and uncomfortable.
“There’s definitely two sides to it and you kind of have to take your emotions out of it because you know no matter what happens it’s a good situation to be in, I guess,” Mancini said. “But yeah, I definitely want to be here for sure out of the two options. But if it comes to them trading me and if they like what they’re getting back I completely respect that decision, too.
“They’re in a rebuild and they’ve got to do what’s best for the organization in their opinion.”
Mancini is making $575,500 this season. He becomes arbitration eligible in 2020 and can test free agency in 2023. The Orioles might be ready to contend, but there isn’t an exact timetable for it. Elias has never really hinted at one.
What motivates Mancini’s desire to stick around if the alternative is going to a contender or at least having a better chance to win somewhere else?
“I mean, it’s the only organization I’ve been in,” said Mancini, an eighth round pick in 2013 out of Notre Dame.
“I love Baltimore so much. I love playing here. And I think there would be nothing cooler than being here through some tough years and coming out the other side when we’re competitive again and going through all that. I think it would make it that much sweeter to be on a winning team here rather than just kind of getting traded into that situation. I think it would be a really cool thing.”
A more immediate goal is to be chosen to his first All-Star team.
The first round of balloting has left Mancini in 17th place among American League outfielders, making a reserve spot the most likely outcome. But the Orioles will continue to push for fans to cast their votes.
The next update is coming Monday.
“Yeah, I checked it,” he said. “I saw what Tommy Pham said in Tampa, that for smaller market teams it’s just going to be tougher to get votes, but I do sincerely appreciate everybody that’s voting for me. And they’re doing a really good job here campaigning for it, so I really appreciate that.”