Posted on December 18, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Just when it looked like the Baltimore Orioles were ready to turn their complete focus to re-signing free agent Mark Trumbo, negotiations appear to have reached an impasse. Earlier this week, it was believed that Trumbo and the Orioles had agreed on the framework of a four-year deal to keep last season’s home run champion in Baltimore. However, a report that surfaced Saturday night states that the offer has been taken off the table, as talks between the two sides have stalled.
Trumbo is arguably the second best free agent left on the market behind Edwin Encarnacion, who is also having trouble finding a home. After leading the majors with 47 home runs last season following a trade to Baltimore from the Mariners last offseason, it’s been surprising to see Trumbo receive so little interest on the free agent market this winter. However, Trumbo’s numbers in 2014 and 2015 were nowhere close to what he did last season, so some teams may view him as a one-season wonder.
While both Trumbo and the Orioles seemed willing to settle on a four-year deal, there was reportedly a large gap in money between the two sides. Reports indicate that Baltimore’s ceiling on a four-year deal was around $55 million, which is far below what Trumbo and his representatives were expecting to receive. With the sides so far apart on money, the Orioles pulled the offer with there being little traction in a deal getting done any time soon.
Of course, the Orioles have used this negotiating tactic before, most notably last season with Chris Davis. The team intentionally backed off from Davis as a way to pull him back to the bargaining table, and the two sides ultimately agreed to a seven-year deal. However, Trumbo has spent just one season in Baltimore, so he’s not as attached to the organization as a player like Davis, which means this move may not be as effective.
Trumbo has also received interest from several other teams this offseason. The Indians, Mariners, Rangers, and Rockies are the teams with a known interest in Trumbo. With the Orioles backing off, Trumbo’s representatives may look to accelerate talks with one of the other teams. However, the Rockies have already spent big on Ian Desmond, the Rangers would prefer not to sign a big-money free agent this winter, and the Indians and Mariners are a couple of teams with limited payroll flexibility to make Trumbo an offer far beyond what the Orioles had on the table.
Nevertheless, with several potential suitors, Trumbo may not need the Orioles as much as they need him. Baltimore is poised to lose both Trumbo and Matt Wieters from a team that relies on hitting the long ball. The Orioles have added Welington Castillo behind the plate, making Wieters unlikely to return, and so it would only make sense for Baltimore to use its remaining resources to secure the return of Trumbo. However, things have not played out that way, and after the team’s four-year offer was pulled, Trumbo’s return to the Orioles is in serious jeopardy.