Trey Mancini Committed To Keeping Focus On The Field As Possible Trade Looms

Trey Mancini has felt the trade winds blow across his clubhouse locker for the past several seasons.

He has learned to take the rumors in stride.

This year, however, outside noise has gotten louder about Mancini being dealt to another team, especially now that the 2022 season marks Mancini’s last year of club control, and the rebuilding Orioles are still looking to stack young talent.

Mancini will not let the trade talk become a distraction in 2022.

“I know how it goes,” Mancini said. “I know that I am a pending free agent after this year. I know the trade talks are going to come with that, but it’s nothing that I think about or affects what I do every day.”

Mancini, 30, has become the face of the Orioles franchise and he has gained fans across the league with his courageous and victorious fight against colon cancer in 2020.

He avoided arbitration just before the regular season by signing a one-year, $7.5 million contract with a mutual option for 2023 worth $10 million. That option includes a $250,000 buyout.

“I think it’s a good outcome,” Orioles GM Mike Elias said. “We’ll be able to avoid the hearing. … Because there’s a mutual option, that’s why we were willing to engage. It’s a good outcome.”

That new deal likely doesn’t change Mancini’s status with the Orioles because another team could easily absorb that buyout in a trade.

“I don’t think it changes my situation very much, if I’m being honest,” Mancini said. “Just with the way that mutual options have worked in the past, if I’m speaking honestly. There are not too many scenarios, I feel like, where both sides take it. It’s usually one way or the other.”

With Ryan Mountcastle taking over as the regular first baseman, Mancini is set to serve as the Orioles’ designated hitter this year while filling in at first base and in the outfield.

Last season, Mancini slashed .255/.326/.432 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs. He hit his 99th and 100th career home runs on June 20 against Toronto, becoming the fastest player in Orioles history to reach 100 career home runs (531 games) among those who began their career with Baltimore,

Mancini also drove in a team-high 25 runs in 26 games in May, the fourth-highest mark in the American League for that month and the fifth most in the majors. He slashed .320/.405/.588 during that month.

Then in July, Mancini had an impressive performance in the Home Run Derby ahead of the All-Star Game in Denver. Mancini defeated Matt Olson in the first round with 24 home runs and Trevor Story in the second round with 13 homers. Mancini fell short of the title, falling to Pete Alonso in the final.

“It was surreal to see that become a reality from my vantage point,” Mancini said at the time. “That, and then seeing my family afterward on the field, they were all so happy. They were all crying, they were so happy — except for one of my nephews, who was crying because he was upset that I lost.”

Mancini was named the 2021 American League Comeback Player of the Year, appearing in 147 of Baltimore’s 162 games last season — 77 at first base, 68 as the designated hitter and four as a pinch-hitter — after battling cancer the year prior.

Mancini was also named the Orioles’ 2021 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes a player from each club who best represents the game of baseball on and off the field through character, sportsmanship, community involvement and philanthropy.

Mancini has been one of the team’s most productive hitters since making his major league debut in 2016. He hit .271/.333/.472 with 107 home runs from 2016-2021. His best year came in 2019, when he posted 35 home runs and 97 RBIs.

Mancini is looking forward to a new season and having some of the restrictions related to COVID-19 lifted. He’s also two years removed from his bout with cancer, so he’s feeling healthy and ready to have a productive season, whether it ends in Baltimore or not.

“[Opening Day] just felt a lot more back to normal before everything happened in the world and for me personally,” Mancini said. “It’s pretty nice. I had a normal offseason, just mentally feeling much better and not really thinking about everything nearly as much. It’s been great. I am just so happy to be back.”

Elias is not afraid to make difficult decisions with the Orioles’ rebuilding process, having traded away productive players like Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and José Iglesias. However, he could face some backlash if he decides to trade the popular Mancini, who should have a decent market with the universal DH and the leadership he will bring to any clubhouse.

Mancini knows his future in Baltimore could be coming to an end. He also knows that the Orioles are trying to build a foundation for a successful future and he could be the odd man out. It’s also uncertain how such a move would go over in the clubhouse given that Mancini is a popular teammate whom many of the younger players respect and try to emulate.

There won’t be any hard feelings on Mancini’s end if he is indeed traded.

“I’ve seen a lot of my teammates get traded over the years, especially starting in 2018 with the sell-off then, so I know how it goes and that at any second, anybody could be dealt,” Mancini said. “It’s a business.”

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Issue 274: April/May 2022

Todd Karpovich

See all posts by Todd Karpovich. Follow Todd Karpovich on Twitter at @toddkarpovich