NATIONAL HARBOR -- — The Colorado Rockies have a big hole at first base and they would love to fill it with someone like Mark Trumbo. New manager Bud Black said as much on Monday morning, but the Rocks -- like the Orioles -- have to figure out how a big contract for a veteran slugger fits into their long-range outlook.
Black confirmed reports that the Rockies have been in regular contact with Trumbo's agent, Joel Wolfe, and why not? At the moment, the Rockies have former Orioles outfielder Gerardo Parra as their tentative starter at first base.
Here's the problem: Like the Orioles, the Rockies have to consider what it might cost to sign young superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado to a long-term extension at a time when they already are expected to have a record payroll in 2017.
The Orioles face the same dilemma with Manny Machado due to become a free agent after the 2018 season. Baseball operations chief Dan Duquette said on Sunday night that the club has made a couple of offers to Trumbo, but another large multi-year contract would likely have an effect on the ability to make a serious bid to keep Machado.
In the Orioles' case, ownership probably needs to decide soon whether it is realistic to think the club can sign Machado to a deal that could be worth up to $400 million.
If not, they need to sign Trumbo and get ready to field offers for Machado either midway through the 2017 season -- if the O's are not in contention -- or at this time next year.
The Rockies are starting from a lower payroll. They spent a franchise record $112 million on salaries in 2016 and will set another record even if they don't sign Trumbo. The Orioles blew away their previous payroll record last year and ended the season at about $150 million.
The Rockies also face one other big stumbling block. Since Trumbo declined a qualifying offer from the Orioles, Colorado would have to give up its top draft choice along with the large multi-year guarantee.
In each case, the O's and Rocks need to decide whether they are playing the short game or the long one.
The Orioles have made it clear they're searching for a corner outfielder who will upgrade their defense, which leaves room to wonder how serious they are about Trumbo when they openly project power prospect Trey Mancini as a potential designated hitter.
The Orioles tend to move slowly on free agent negotiations, in some cases waiting to see if the market for a player comes back to them. Factor in the likelihood that the Rockies aren't the only team interested in Trumbo's prodigious power and you can draw your own conclusions about the likelihood of him being back in an Orioles uniform next season.