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December 19, 2016

Rumor Roundup

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

by Ashley Varela


Orioles withdraw four-year offer from Trumbo

The on-again, off-again saga between Mark Trumbo and the Orioles is off again. The team took its four-year, $52 million deal off the table, per a report by Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko notes that the move doesn’t necessarily signify the end of the Orioles’ efforts to sign Trumbo, however, as they pulled the same stunt with Chris Davis last winter before signing him to a seven-year, $161 million contract. Such is the nature of offseason wheeling and dealing, especially in Baltimore.

Trumbo’s name has been bandied about by several teams, including the Cardinals, Rangers, Indians, Mariners and Rockies, the latter of whom stands to benefit enormously from a combination of Trumbo’s power and the extreme hitters’ environment at Coors Field. At 30 years old, the first baseman/corner outfielder brings both veteran experience and a surfeit of home runs to the table after mashing a league-high 47 homers in 2016. The Orioles, while well-stocked at first base, could utilize Trumbo in the DH spot. It’s just a matter of finding that sweet spot between the $70-80 million Trumbo reportedly wants (including a full no-trade clause, which the Orioles declined to bundle with their offer) and the $50-plus million the club reportedly had in mind.

Avila’s price tag too high for Tigers

The Tigers might be gung-ho about Alex Avila’s left-handed bat, but they’re decidedly less jazzed about the $2.5 million it could cost them. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that the number was “too rich” for Detroit, as the 30-year-old catcher underperformed in 2016 and would be shoehorned into a platoon with right-handed starter James McCann in 2017.

This would all be less awkward for Avila if his father, Al Avila, weren’t the Tigers' general manager. Still, it’s apparently difficult for Detroit to justify the modest chunk of payroll for a backup catcher who slashed just .213/.339/.373 with the White Sox last year, familial ties or no. Avila also carries some injury risk, as he has a lengthy history of concussions and knee trouble and missed nearly 10 weeks of the 2016 season with a hamstring strain.

Without Avila, the Tigers’ internal options include rookie John Hicks and the aforementioned McCann, neither of whom have proven especially adept at handling righties. Finding another affordable left-handed bat to pair with McCann shouldn’t be too tricky, but with a payroll that’s already exceeded the $189 luxury tax threshold this offseason, offloading pricey contracts should be a higher priority right now.

Mariners open to dealing Smith

The Mariners are still considering their veteran starting pitcher options, and a report from Tacoma News Tribune’s Bob Dutton continues to fuel the rumor that they’d be willing to deal outfielder Seth Smith for the right name. Per Dutton, trading Smith away could also inspire the club to pursue another everyday hitter, as they’d have an extra $7 million in the bank with Smith’s contract off the books.

While the Mariners have been shopping Smith since the winter meetings, if not earlier, few offers have been reported so far. One interested party appeared to be the Red Sox, who were said to have a deal in place for the 34-year-old before they picked up Mitch Moreland on a one-year contract earlier this month. Jon Heyman also mentioned the Orioles, Giants, and Cardinals as potential landing places for the outfielder, whose primary appeal lies in his career .272/.355/.472 line against right-handers. Smith performed well in 2016, batting .249/.342/.415 with a .261 TAv in 438 PA for Seattle, but with Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger, Danny Valencia, and Guillermo Heredia crowding the outfield, keeping him locked in a limited role doesn’t make much sense considering the club still has to address other problem areas on their roster.

Ashley Varela is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ashley's other articles. You can contact Ashley by clicking here

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