The Orioles officially entered the hot-stove season Tuesday, acquiring power-hitting first baseman Mark Trumbo from the Seattle Mariners, pending medical reviews.
Trumbo brings a big bat -- he averages 31 homers and 96 RBIs per 162 games -- to the Orioles lineup, and acquiring a hitter with those power credentials usually takes a lot more than what the O's gave up in backup catcher Steve Clevenger.
The Mariners obviously didn't want to tender Trumbo a contract by tonight's deadline. So, they were happy to get a left-handed-hitting backup catcher in Clevenger to dump Trumbo's contract.
The Orioles wanted Seattle to eat some of Trumbo's salary -- he is expected to make about $9 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility -- but that didn't happen. The Orioles will be on the hook for the full amount.
As I wrote yesterday, the Orioles don't see acquiring Trumbo as an alternative to re-signing Chris Davis, but more of an insurance plan in case they can't re-sign Davis. They still want to retain Davis, but given what he could make this offseason with Scott Boras as his agent, they are wise to be thinking about a Plan B this early in the offseason.
Give the Orioles credit for moving quickly. They're usually the team that waits for trades and signings to develop. More times than not, being realistic is better than being hopeful.
And who knows? Davis could be in an Orioles uniform next season, but it's entirely possible that he doesn't sign until late in the winter. It's better to think about life without Davis now than in a couple of months.
However, I don't see where the money for such a major financial commitment to Davis is now coming from. Provided the Orioles tender all of the arbitration-eligible players tonight, the addition of Trumbo puts their 2016 projected payroll near the $100 million mark. And that's without getting a starting pitcher (or two) and corner outfield help, not to mention Davis.
What Trumbo means for Pearce
The addition of Trumbo makes it more unlikely that the Orioles will bring back first baseman-outfielder Steve Pearce.
Whether Davis returns or not, Trumbo fills the role of a right-handed-hitting first baseman-designated hitter who could play outfield.
Pearce wasn't able to duplicate his breakout 2014 season this past year, but he still gave the Orioles 15 homers and 40 RBIs in 92 games.
His greatest asset last season might have been his flexibility. Pearce was solid at first base and the corner outfield spots, and even filled in at second base for the first time in his major league career when there was a need. He was the consummate team player.
More on Trumbo
Here's one thing to note about Trumbo. His career .300 on-base percentage is remarkably poor for a power hitter, and the Orioles are looking to improve in that area this offseason.
Trumbo's on-base percentage in 2015 was just .310, but he posted a strong second half to the season. In 70 starts from July 4 on, Trumbo posted a .358 on-base percentage, hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs.
So, even though he's not known for getting on base at a high rate, he has shown the ability to do so, even if it is a small sample size.
Nontender deadline nears
The Orioles will likely announce their acquisition of Trumbo sometime today before the midnight nontender deadline. Including Trumbo, the Orioles will have 12 arbitration-eligible players.
Usually, the club avoids arbitration with a few of those players just before the deadline. That could happen in the hours leading up to midnight, especially with some of the lower-cost players, but it hasn't happened yet.
It's still not guaranteed that the Orioles will tender contracts to all 12 players. Nontendered players become free agents.
Third baseman Manny Machado, closer Zach Britton, right-handed starter Chris Tillman and right-hander reliever Brad Brach will all be tendered deals. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez and left-hander Brian Matusz seem likely to be tendered.
That leaves utility man Ryan Flaherty, outfielder Nolan Reimold, outfielder David Lough, shortstop Paul Janish and right-hander Vance Worley in question.
3 prospects in top 50
FanGraphs released its ranking of top prospects using the KATOH system, which uses certain minor league stats and variables to predict major league success.
Three Orioles prospects are listed in the top 50. Catcher Chance Sisco is ranked 22nd, first baseman Trey Mancini is 42nd and third baseman Jomar Reyes is 49th.