Don’t you do it, Mike Elias. Don’t. You. Do. It.
If Elias wants to completely alienate the fanbase — slow progress from the farm system is doing that already — then he should go ahead and trade Trey Mancini.
But if he does it, good luck keeping this O’s fan interested.
Mancini’s story has been well-covered at this point — the man lost an entire year of his life after being diagnosed with colon cancer, was forced to endure it during the COVID-19 pandemic and through it all, he’s back in Baltimore hitting homers and driving in runs.
Mancini is reliable as the day is long. Pencil him in the lineup and reap the benefits.
Obviously, Mancini’s prowess as a hitter — his OPS of .789 is above the league average and he’s hit 14 homers this season — isn’t translating to wins. Mancini and Cedric Mullins are the only two reliable O’s in the lineup and as good as they’ve been — both Mancini and Mullins might represent Baltimore in the Midsummer Classic — they can’t win games by themselves.
As the Orioles continue to call the AL East cellar home, the organization is clearly still in “tank mode.” But how far is the organization willing to go?
We’ve seen what the O’s have done to try and save money. They played hardball this offseason with two of the team’s best players, Mancini and Anthony Santander, in hopes to defer some of their salaries to lower the club’s payroll further into the depths of baseball hell. They even ousted almost all the team’s media personalities, including fan favorite play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne.
If we want to go back even further, O’s fans surely don’t forget the club’s unwillingness to agree to long-term extensions with Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. All three players continued to be productive after leaving Baltimore.
Are they now willing to cut ties with the most popular player in the organization since Adam Jones?
Mancini will turn 30 before next season and the Orioles control him for one more season. Mancini will hit free agency before the 2023 season, giving the O’s more than enough time to reach a long-term extension with Mancini.
Think about this — the Orioles’ competitive window will likely open around the 2023 season as Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall will all have found their ways to the majors by that point. Presumably, Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle will still be around, and John Means will still have two seasons left under team control.
Mancini will be 31 in 2023, surely not quite falling off his peak. The Orioles’ talented youth will be arriving, and Means will still be around as well.
That’s a core that you can build around. You don’t take away from it by moving the heart and soul of the team out of town.
I’ll be honest — part of Mancini’s appeal is obviously emotional. There isn’t a soul in the sport who doesn’t appreciate what Mancini has had to battle to get to this point. Everyone wants to rally around that.
But Mancini brings more value than just the feel-good nature of his story. He’s a consistent slugger still in his prime who has a history of being reliable. He can play both corner outfield spots, along with first base, and can help fill out the Orioles batting order over the next few seasons.
The potential trade value for Mancini is not worth the cost. Elias should know this. And if he moves Mancini, it could be the move that gets him dumped in a trash can.
The Baltimore Orioles need to not only keep Mancini at this year’s trade deadline, they need to keep him around long-term. The opportunity is there, now Elias needs to get it done
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