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Mancini's Career Year Hasn't Affected His Uncertain Future

If this is really the end for Trey Mancini’s career in Baltimore, he sure is going out with a boom.

The 30-year-old slugger is having one of the best seasons of his career, slashing .303/.374/.448 and sporting a career-high 138 OPS+. Baseball Savant, which measures advanced metrics, tells a similar story, as Mancini sits in the 96th percentile in expected batting average and in the 92nd percentile in expected slugging.

Sadly, Mancini’s resurgence has been marred by the elephant in the room — the Orioles’ refusal to commit to Mancini long term.

The Orioles and Mancini agreed to a one-year deal this offseason with a mutual option of $10 million for next year. Even as Mancini puts together the best performance of his career, the chances of a rebuilding club committing to $10 million for a 31-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is quite low.

It isn’t like the Orioles couldn’t afford him. The club carries an $11 million club option on journeyman starter Jordan Lyles, who’s been relatively reliable this season. Outside of Lyles and John Means’ $2.9 million contract, no other money is currently on the books for the Orioles.

Not only has Mancini been the Orioles’ best hitter this season, but he isn’t blocking anyone in the minors. Mancini has spelled his comrades in the field just 23 times this season, compared to 30 games when Mancini has served as the designated hitter. Nobody in the minors has proven they’re ready for that role yet — the closest option has been Tyler Nevin, a Mark Trumbo-style fielder with an OPS+ of 74.

Despite all of this, Mancini sounds like he’s accepted that his time in Baltimore is limited.

“I wanted to at least be a big part of the tide turning,” Mancini told MASN’s Roch Kubatko. That’s been really important to me, and for that to be the case, I knew that I needed to be the best version of myself possible, and I’ve really tried to make that my MO this year.”

Mancini also mentioned that there haven’t been serious contract talks so far, furthering the notion that despite his performance, the Orioles are not willing to commit to him past this season.

MLB’s trade deadline is Aug. 2, and from now until we learn of his fate, Mancini and those that cheer for him will continue wondering what the future holds. And that’s a shame, because Boom Boom deserves better than that.

I think he’s earned it in more ways than one.

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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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