On Mancini, former Orioles and chemistry experiments

If you get the feeling it would take a lot for the Orioles to trade Trey Mancini, you are not alone. And team management and comments from the front office can help lead one to that conclusion.

Numerous times during and after the 2019 season, we’ve heard Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias talk about Mancini in very generous and glowing terms. You get the sense it’s quite genuine and not just a GM being respectful of or talking up a star player.

Mancini-Rounds-Third-Flores-Orange-Sidebar.jpgIn 154 games last season, Mancini, who was voted the Most Valuable Oriole by the media, hit .291/.364/.535 with 38 doubles, two triples, 35 homers, 106 runs, 97 RBIs and with an OPS of .899, which produced an OPS plus of 135.

Mancini was the only player in the American League (and one of two in the majors, the other being Colorado’s Trevor Story) with 35 or more home runs and 38 or more doubles. He is the sixth player in Orioles history to record at least 35 home runs and 35 doubles, joining Rafael Palmeiro (1996 and 1998), Brady Anderson (1996), Albert Belle (1999), Chris Davis (2013) and Manny Machado (2016).

Elias was a guest on “MASN All Access” last night and was asked if there is a good chance that Mancini will start the 2020 season still an Oriole.

“Well, we love him,” said Elias. “You know, the fact that his heart is invested in our organization, our city, is huge. But we also wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we’re not listening on our players and getting a feel for what their value is in the market. And we do that with everybody. But he’s somebody that is a big part of our team, that should continue to get better and we look forward to having him.”

According to Statcast, Mancini hit 28 homers off of fastballs in 2019 and that was the second-most in the AL, behind Kansas City’s Jorge Soler with 31. According to InsideEdge, he led the majors in slugging percentage (.900) on fastballs away, while the league average was .487.

Former O’s updates: Two former Orioles were in the news yesterday. Outfielder Adam Jones, as rumored, did, in fact, sign to play in Japan.

Jones has a contract with the Orix Buffaloes, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and MLB Network. It’s for two years and $8 million with a club option for 2022, with the chance to make an additional $2 million in incentives. The contract could max out at $15.5 million.

Jones didn’t sign last season with Arizona until March 11 and a got a one-year deal for $3 million. For the Diamondbacks, Jones hit .260/.313/.414 with 16 homers, 67 RBIs and an OPS of .728. In 11 seasons with the Orioles, Jones was an All-Star five times and Gold Glove winner four times.

On MLB Network yesterday, before this agreement came out, Jones was asked about the possibility of going to Japan.

“I’m keeping all my options open,” Jones said. “I have a unique opportunity to do something different. I have a unique opportunity to take control of my own career. A lot of guys don’t have this opportunity, so I’m just keeping every option open. Been consulting with my family and my closest friends the last month about these kind of decisions. Because it’s not an easy decision to make. I’m just weighing every single option.”

Jones said club officials from Japan first approached him before the 2019 season.

“They reached out last year and asked, ‘Would you ever have interest playing here?’ We talked about it,” he said. “If Major League Baseball doesn’t want our services anymore, if we still want to play, let’s go do something else. I have two little kids, 5 and 3, that can experience something unbelievable. You can’t pay for this type of experience. Just keeping my mind open, and anything that happens happens.”

OnTuesday afternoon, right-hander Kevin Gausman, the Orioles’ 2012 first-round draft pick, found a new team. He agreed to a one-year deal worth $9 million with San Francisco. He could earn another $1 million in performances bonuses with the team, per The Athletic.

The O’s dealt Gausman to Atlanta in July 2018, and last Aug. 5 Cincinnati claimed him off waivers. But earlier this month, the Reds non-tendered Gausman rather than pay him a projected $10.6 million in arbitration. Despite shaky numbers last year, Gausman did pretty well with the Braves.

In 2019 between the Braves and Reds, he went 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA and 1.417 WHIP. He did post solid walk (2.8) and strikeout (10.0) rates over 102 1/3 innings.

Chemistry experiment: You often hear critics of the use of data and analytics in baseball say that the numbers crunchers and analysts don’t often or ever consider the human element in the game. Things like veteran leadership and chemistry. Well, despite the fact he heads up the Orioles analytics department, assistant GM Sig Mejdal said chemistry and leadership are quite important to him and other team officials.

“Yeah, undoubtedly (they’re important),” Mejdal said during his appearance on “MASN All Access” yesterday. “I think you’d be foolish to think because we can’t measure it, that it doesn’t matter. It matters whether you’re the division favorite or not. So I think it’s definitely something that Brandon Hyde and Elias are aware of. And while we can’t quantify it, or can’t actually predict it as well as one would hope, that it’s nevertheless something that is on all of our minds.”

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