As has been the case for the past few summers, the Orioles enter borderline season among the game’s most likely sellers. American League East. The O’s showed signs of progress, getting the best hope Adley Rutschman in the major leagues and 14-12 last month, but they are still ready to offer offers to a number of players.
Among those most likely to be dealt are first baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini and corner fielder Anthony Santander. Mancini is expected to enter free agency at the end of this season, and at spring training the club had not engaged their representatives in talks over a possible long-term deal. Unless an impromptu extension comes together over the next few weeks, the figure of the O’s will make Mancini a contender for the final two months of this season. (Mancini’s deal with the O’s to avoid arbitration this spring included a $10 million mutual option for 2023. Given the caliber of the season he’s having, it seems unlikely he’ll trigger his end. of the pact and waives a possibility of a multi-year free agent contract).
The Mets are among the teams that checked out Mancini, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post. New York skipper Buck Showalter is familiar with the Notre Dame product, having been successful in Baltimore until 2018. That encompassed Mancini’s first two full seasons as a big leaguer, so Showalter took a hard look at his club’s fit and his work habits.
Mancini is in the middle of one of the best seasons of his career. Thanks to 295 plate appearances coming into play on Friday, the 30-year-old is up to .280/.356/.421. Mancini has only hit seven home runs, but his 20% strikeout rate is a career low. Although his power has dropped, especially compared to his 35 home run campaign in 2019, his hard contact rate is still well above average.
Pete Alonso is having a great season at first base for the Mets, but the club is considering looking at outside opportunities for the designated hitter. New York got a .230/.311/.383 performance from the DH position, exactly the league average output per wRC+ metric. Between Dominique Smith and JD Davis, the Mets entered the season with a seeming surplus of players up front who could serve as the team’s DH. Smith instead struggled for a second straight season, hitting .194/.283/.265 in 113 MLB board appearances and spending time in Triple-A. Davis has a .243/.333/.345 line on 171 trips to the flat, hitting just two homers in 51 games. Like Mancini, Davis has much better batted ball metrics than his power results suggest.
The Mets are one of many teams that have or will contact O general manager Mike Elias about Mancini. Santander also thinks it’s attracting some interest, and Heyman writes in a separate post that Baltimore is ready to make it available. After a dip in 2021, he hit 14 home runs in the first half of this season. The batting outfielder has a .235/.329/.424 line in just under 300 trips to the plate.
For the first time in his career, Santander has an on-base percentage above the league average, a testament to an overhaul in approach that has allowed him to work more free passes. After swinging more than half the pitches he had seen in every season of his career through 2021, Santander has reduced his swing rate to just over 46% this year. This more patient approach has been accompanied by a walk rate of 10.5%, more than double the 5.1% clip he released in his career last season.
With the O’s pressed for time to extend or swap Mancini, the club could choose to keep Santander if they don’t receive offers to their liking. The 27-year-old entered this season with over three years of major league service. He’s controllable through the end of 2024 through arbitration and earns a modest $3.2 million this season. As for Baltimore’s other controllable outfielders, Heyman unsurprisingly writes that the team “should be blown away” to move either Cedric Mullins Where Austin Hays. Baltimore can keep Mullins and Hays until 2025.
Aside from Mancini and Santander, Baltimore’s next most likely trade contender may just be getting closer jorge lopez. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explored yesterday, López went from struggling starter to extinguished reliever. In 37 innings, the right-hander has a microscopic 0.73 ERA. He knocked out 27.1% of opponents and spawned ground balls at a massive 64% clip, a combination that’s sure to lead to plenty of calls from teams looking to add a late-game weapon.
As part of a reader mailbag, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes that Baltimore would listen to offers on López, at least for the sake of due diligence. Controllable until 2024 and playing this season on a salary of $1.5 million, the 29-year-old could remain affordable for the next few seasons. It would undoubtedly take a major effort for Elias and his team to pull the trigger on a deal, but other clubs will try to scare off López before the August 2 deadline.