A year ago, Mark Trumbo was a free agent coming off a 2016 season in which he led the majors in home runs. The market for Trumbo wasn't as active as he thought it would be, however, and he ended up re-signing with the Orioles in January.
The designated hitter/outfielder's three-year, $37.5 million contract seemed reasonable. Not only did Trumbo hit 47 homers in 2016, but he also drove in 108 runs. Those numbers, as well as his .850 OPS, were career highs.
But Trumbo had a startling drop-off in production in 2017, and that has led to speculation that the Orioles could seek to trade him for a starting pitcher.
With $26 million left on the remaining two years of his contract, it surely will be a difficult one to move, and the Orioles might have to eat some of the money.
Trumbo, who hit .234 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs this season, is considered a defensive liability, and the market for him may well be limited to American League teams. In return, the Orioles would probably have to take either an underperforming pitcher with a heavy salary or a young, unproven arm.
Dealing Trumbo, 31, makes sense because he's a right-handed hitter and of the players expected back for the Orioles, only first baseman Chris Davis and rookie catcher Chance Sisco are left-handed. Rule 5 outfielder Anthony Santander is a switch-hitter.
The Orioles could switch out Trumbo for Pedro Alvarez, who has a similar skill set but hits left-handed. With the addition of the left-handed hitting Seth Smith in 2017, Trumbo's time in right field was greatly reduced. The emergence of Trey Mancini as a left fielder made it impossible to carry Alvarez.
Alvarez's stats in 2016 weren't bad -- 22 homers 49 RBIs and an .826 OPS in 109 games -- and he hit .313 after he joined the Orioles for the final month of this season.
He'd also command a lower salary than Trumbo. In 2016, Alvarez was paid $5.75 million.
In 2018, the Orioles are likely to try Austin Hays in right field. Hays, Mancini and center fielder Adam Jones are all right-handed, and it makes sense to try and add a left-handed hitter to replace Smith, who's expected to depart as a free agent.
NOTE: The Orioles re-signed infielder Luis Sardinas to a minor league contract. Sardinas is expected to compete for a utility spot in spring training.