In pro sports, it’s rare to see a player who’s actually from the town that the team calls home. For a six-week run at at the end of the season, the Orioles had that in catcher Steve Clevenger. But it was short-lived. The offseason is here, and the business side of the sport reared its head again.
According to ESPN, the O’s traded Clevenger to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. In return, they get first baseman Mark Trumbo, a one-time All-Star who has a reputation as a power hitter.
For the Orioles, the deal is best viewed in the context of the entire offseason. Last month, Orioles starting catcher Matt Wieters signed a qualifying offer, meaning the Orioles are required to pay him a whopping $15.8 million this year. So, with the trade, they lightened the load at a position where they have a lot of salary tied up.
The big question-mark of the offseason is whether home run king Chris Davis will return. Davis is a free agent, and he’s looking for a big payday. In Major League Baseball, where there’s no salary cap, that means the Orioles will probably end up in a bidding war with a team that has a lot more money than they do. By bringing in Trumbo, the O’s now have someone who can play first base if they don’t re-sign Davis. If Davis does return, Trumbo can also play right field.
It sounds like a solid business decision, at least on paper. For his part, Clevenger bounced between the Orioles and the minor leagues for a few seasons. The Mariners need a back-up catcher, so the Pigtown native may finally get a chance to stay on a big league roster consistently. It just won’t be in the town where he grew up.
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