There is no question about it right now — Trey Mancini is the Baltimore Orioles’ best player. However, the future of Trey Mancini with the Orioles could be coming to an end soon. Mancini is currently leading the American League in hits with 38, third in doubles with 11, sixth in batting average (hitting .349), and second in runs scored with 23. Mancini, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, is on his way to hitting career highs in almost every offensive category. He is on track to rack up 228 hits, 66 doubles, 36 home runs, and 84 RBI.
Mancini’s Current Situation
Trey Mancini is currently 27 years old and entering his first season of eligibility for arbitration. With the Orioles in an all-out rebuild, Mancini is in an interesting place. He is young enough to be part of the rebuild and won’t be a free agent until after the 2023 season. Not only that, he can play outfield, first base, and serve has the designated hitter.
Mancini is the face of the Orioles. It was supposed to be Chris Davis, but everyone knows how that worked out, even after breaking out of his slump. Then Dylan Bundy was heralded as the face of the franchise, but after he has been gradually getting worse every season, that option is out. With Adam Jones leaving for the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency, Mancini fell into a leadership role inside the locker room and was the only option to really be the face of the team, as seen on Star Wars night with Mancini being the only player bobblehead or figure being handed out as a promotion in the 2019 season.
Some may say, “This all sounds great! He’s hitting well. He’s a leader on the team. This sounds perfect! How could there possibly be a problem?” Mancini’s long-term future is the problem. He is naturally a first baseman, but given the Chris Davis contract, that spot is probably the only spot in the Orioles line up that is set in stone. Davis’ contract expires in 2022 (as noted above, Mancini can will likely hit free agency in 2023). So, when Davis’ contract is up, he’ll slide in, right? Not so fast. The Orioles have started to groom their number two prospect into a first baseman. Originally playing third, the biggest knock against Ryan Mountcastle was his arm. So, in Spring Training 2019, the organization slid him to first and have kept him there while he plays for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. Mountcastle is known for his bat, but the Orioles are starting to see him as their long-term first baseman.
Being behind Davis, Mancini has been playing outfield. Why can’t he stay there? Outfield, after being a big weakness over the last decade, has become one of the Orioles’ deepest positions. The Orioles already replaced Adam Jones with Cedric Mullins in center field. For the last two spots, the Orioles have Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart, and Ryan McKenna in the pipeline for filling out left and right fields.
This leaves the designated hitter role for Mancini. Does a team pay the kind of contract Mancini is set to get for a DH? His ability to play first and outfield is definitely an asset as well, but that will only drive up his price. Why pay for that premium if the team isn’t going to use it?
The future of Trey Mancini with the Orioles
The safest option is to, of course, keep him. The Orioles have control of his contract for the next three years. He’s become the leader of the team. He’s become the face of the franchise. He’d be an asset in developing young players. Not only is this the safest option, it is likely the easiest too. All the Orioles have to do is pay him to keep him. It makes sense that staying would be the future of Trey Mancini with the Orioles.
The alternative option is for the Orioles to trade him. He is having another monster year, looking like an AL MVP candidate again. There are already teams needing outfielders. Both the Yankees and the Pirates have suffered key losses in the outfield. It’s not even May yet. With this being the first season of the single trade deadline in Major League Baseball, look for there to be a slight uptick in activity from previous years.
The Orioles are in a full rebuild. If Mancini stays hot, they could be able to fetch a hefty return for him at the deadline. His bat, his ability to play multiple positions, and the fact he’ll be under team control for the next three seasons could make Mancini the most sought-after position player this summer. Given that his long-term future with the Orioles is a little cloudy with all the prospects already, he could be a big trade candidate, much like Manny Machado was last season. Look for the Orioles to listen to offers and try to get a couple of pitching prospects in return. July will tell more about the future of Trey Mancini with the Orioles.
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