As of January 11th, Mark Trumbo remains unsigned by any team. The Orioles, Rockies, Athletics, and Rangers have all shown interest in the home run champion of 2016.
It is pretty clear what is most valuable about Trumbo: his power. With 47 home runs last season, along with 123 wRC+ and an OPS+ of 120, it is very evident what drives teams interest in him as a player.
It is also very clear what is the least valuable trait of Trumbo: his defense. As a right fielder in 2016, Trumbo posted a -5.9 UZR with -9 DRS and was probably one of the most uncomfortable outfielders I’ve watch play in a while. However, in his career, Trumbo has been bearable at first base; a position he mainly played when he was a member of the Angels.
Mike Petriello of MLB.com recently wrote an article talking about how Trumbo’s value would benefit from him playing at first base instead of in the outfield. The article talks about Trumbo being a decent enough first baseman and how his WAR, which was 2.2 in 2016, would benefit from him not being set up to fail as an outfielder which in turn would drive down his WAR.
This creates a problem if the Orioles want to resign Trumbo. It ultimately puts a strain on the first base position when there does not need to be one. Chris Davis is a very adequate defender at first and was recognized for it by getting nominated for a Gold Glove award for his efforts in 2016. I believe he is still good enough to man the position for at least 2-3 more years at the level he is at now.
With Davis also at first, it would shut down any possibility of him playing right field: a position he is not suited for. And like previously stated, you do not want Trumbo back there for a second straight season after knowing how poor his defense is there.
Another issue that could arise from a Trumbo extension is taking money away from any possible negotiations with Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Chris Tillman, and Kevin Gausman; all of whom are much more valuable to the Orioles franchise individually than Trumbo is as a whole.
The prospect of resigning all four of those players, as nice as it sounds, is highly unlikely but a Trumbo extension does nothing to help it at all. It drives money into a more questionable asset than ones you are more certain about.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love home runs. I root for the Orioles so I am more exposed to them on a nightly basis and they are still fun to watch. While hitting 47 in a season is very impressive and exciting, there are other dimensions baseball players must deliver on to warrant large contracts.
Trumbo struggles in the areas of getting on base (.316 OBP last season), striking out too often (25.5 K% last season), and like I previously stated; poor defensive skills in a position that he manned for 95 games last season and would most likely see significant time in again.
All of this adds up to the prospect of a draft pick being more enticing than the player they are willing to give up signing for it, as weird as that may sound to the average fan.