As Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette lauded the acquisition of power bat Mark Trumbo on Wednesday, he made it clear he's not closing the door on other major acquisitions this offseason, most notably retaining slugger Chris Davis.
The Orioles made their trade with the Seattle Mariners to acquire Trumbo official, receiving the right-handed slugger along with left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser in exchange for backup catcher and Baltimore native Steve Clevenger. The Orioles also designated right-hander Steve Johnson, another Baltimore native, for assignment to make room on their 40-man roster for the two new players.
Trumbo, 29, brings a resume that fits the Orioles batting order maybe too well. He has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBIs per 162 games in his career, but he also strikes out 161 times per 162 games. He undoubtedly adds a bona fide power bat to the Orioles lineup and provides the club with insurance if they fail to re-sign Davis this offseason.
"This isn't the last move the club is going to make to put our team together for 2016," Duquette said. "I can't tell you who we're going to sign in the future, but the addition of a proven major league hitter like Mark Trumbo today lengthens our lineup. It gives us another hitter in the lineup who can hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching.
"I just think his presence and his proven RBI and power capabilities are going to add a lot to our ballclub. And we're going to continue to shape our lineup and the rest of our ballclub throughout the offseason, but we certainly like the addition of Mark today to help our team and also we like the young left-handed pitcher we got."
Trumbo believed he might be dealt – the Mariners were eager to move Trumbo's projected $9 million salary before Wednesday's midnight deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. But he didn't know the Orioles were a possible destination for him until midday Tuesday.
"I didn't have a whole lot of lead-up to it," said Trumbo, who has now been traded for the third time since December 2013. "Things happened rather quickly, as they have a few other times. I was just kind of waiting to see how things would play out and with whom. There were a few teams that were mentioned before, but to be honest the Orioles weren't one that I had heard really at all."
Despite spending his entire career out west, Trumbo said he has long admired the Orioles organization.
"I'm extremely excited to be heading to a new location and a team that I've always had a heck of a lot of respect for playing against," Trumbo said. "I've always thought very highly of the way the Orioles compete on both sides of the ball. Especially being a hitter, I've always admired the at-bats that the guys are able to put together. I'm really looking forward to being a part of it and fitting in, having some versatility if needed in a few defensive spots but mainly driving in some runs and hitting a few home runs as well."
The addition of Trumbo gives the Orioles 12 arbitration-eligible players who must be tendered contract offers by midnight. The Orioles agreed to terms with one of those players, right-hander Vance Worley on a one-year, $2.6 million deal, and are hoping to settle with a few more players before the deadline.
This past season, Trumbo hit .262 with a .310 on-base percentage, .449 slugging percentage, 22 home runs and 64 RBIs with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Mariners. Arizona dealt him to Seattle in June and he finished the year strong with the Mariners, posting a .302/.358/.490 slash line with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 74 games from July 4 on.
His best seasons came with the Los Angeles Angels, with whom he averaged 32 homers and 94 RBIs from 2011 to 2013. The Orioles expect Trumbo to duplicate those power numbers playing half of his games in hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
Trumbo said he's excited about moving to Oriole Park, and Duquette expects a power surge playing in Baltimore.
"In Mark's case, he can hit the ball out of our ballpark and I think he's going to be helped by our right-center-field in particular," Duquette said. "A couple of the balls he hit this year in the ballparks he was playing in, they wouldn't have gone out in right-center field, but they would have gone out in our ballpark."
Defensively, Trumbo said he's most comfortable playing first base because he has the most experience there, and Duquette agreed that's where he best fits on the diamond. But Trumbo could see considerable at-bats at designated hitter, especially if the Orioles retain Davis.
The Orioles also filled another area of need by acquiring an optionable left-handed bullpen arm in Riefenhauser. The 25-year-old Riefenhauser, who spent his career with the Tampa Bay Rays before going to Seattle in a November trade, is 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA in 24 major league games. He has a 2.77 ERA in six minor league seasons, including a 2.15 ERA in 113 innings at Triple-A.
"He's a good left-handed relief prospect," Duquette said. "He's put up some really good numbers at Triple-A in each of the last two years. He had a little bit of an injury this year. He has the opportunity to help the club in 2016. He's got a good mix of three pitches and we think he'll be a helpful pitcher for our club this year."
In making the deal, the Orioles bid farewell to two players with strong local ties. Clevenger grew up in Pigtown, just steps away from Camden Yards, and attended Mount Saint Joseph. Johnson, a St. Paul's product, is the son of former Orioles right-hander and MASN analyst Dave Johnson.
Despite shuttling between the majors and Triple-A Norfolk during his time in the organization, Clevenger, 29, made significant strides with his all-around game this past season. He hit .305 with a .375 on-base percentage in 75 games with Norfolk while improving defensively, earning a major league call-up for good in mid-August. He hit .287 in 30 games with the Orioles in 2015.
But Clevenger enters the upcoming season out of minor league options. And the return of Wieters, who accepted the Orioles' one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer earlier this month — likely leaves Clevenger without an Opening Day roster spot at catcher.
Clevenger will now fill an immediate need in Seattle, playing behind recently signed veteran Chris Iannetta while also providing a left-handed bat off the bench.
Johnson battled his way back to the majors after shoulder surgery in 2014 by adjusting well to a relief role. He was 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 54 2/3 innings at Norfolk, earning a big league call-up in September. He struggled in limited work with the Orioles, posting a 10.13 ERA in 5 1/3 relief innings.
Johnson, 28, was 5-1 with a 4.25 ERA in 27 career games (five starts) with the Orioles.