Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette gave his strongest indication this offseason that the club is shifting its focus away from retaining slugger Mark Trumbo in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sunday.
While there's been much hullabaloo about the four-year offer made to Trumbo, the offer being taken off the table and the potential compensation draft pick that the Orioles wouldn't receive if they re-signed Trumbo, Duquette made it clear that the team is now weighing other options.
As he said during the winter meetings, Duquette emphasized that the team likes the idea of getting a compensation draft pick if Trumbo goes elsewhere. This is the final year that teams will get a compensation draft pick after the first round for losing a qualifying offer free agent. Compensation picks tied to qualifying offer free agents will be given in lower rounds when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement goes into effect next year.
The previous two seasons, the Orioles have received a qualifying offer compensation pick, taking infielder Ryan Mountcastle with the 36th overall pick in 2015 as compensation for losing Nelson Cruz and right-hander Cody Sedlock with the 27th pick last year as compensation for losing Wei-Yin Chen. The Orioles forfeited their first-round pick last year – which was the 14th overall selection -- to sign right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who was traded Friday to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Seth Smith.
"Coming back and accepting a $52 million offer isn't anything to be ashamed about or just feel bad about," Duquette said. "But as far as the club goes, as far as the Orioles go, we kind of like the draft pick. The value of that draft pick has been enhanced with the negotiations of the new basic agreement. In other words, that's about the last time you can acquire that level of pick for a compensation free agent. The level is diluted after this year."
Duquette added that the team is turning its focus to free-agent options that will demand less in terms of years and financial commitment, which points again to a possible reunion with designated hitter Pedro Alvarez.
"We like some of the other options – some of the shorter-term options on the market that could look to be a little more cost-effective for the club," Duquette said. "So that's how we're proceeding in terms of assembling our team to have a good competitive team again next year. We're still looking for an outfielder, for more outfield help, and also some pitching depth. And we're going to continue looking for that in the market, either via the trade or the free-agent market. You know, the trade market is starting to open up too and there's still some good players out there available to be signed."
The same cat-and-mouse game took place last offseason between the Orioles and first baseman Chris Davis before he signed a club-record seven-year, $161 million deal. But that was a different scenario because Davis had built up a strong resume in Baltimore and was extremely coveted by club ownership, compared to Trumbo, who played just one year for the Orioles despite leading the majors in home runs.