4:06 p.m.: Rays plan to designate outfielder Brett Phillips for assignment, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Rosenthal reports this prospect of launching Seth Johnson goes to Baltimore as part of the deal, with Houston also sending a pitcher to the Orioles. Johnson is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery, according to Rosenthal.
4:04 p.m.: It’s a three-team trade that also involves the Rays, reports Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (on Twitter). Central gardener Jose Siri runs from Houston to Tampa Bay. Minor league right-handed Jayden Murray is heading from Tampa Bay to Houston as part of the deal, reports Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
3:27 p.m.: The Astros acquire Trey Mancini of the Orioles, reports Dan Connolly of the Athletic (Twitter link). Baltimore is acquiring several pitching prospects in return, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter).
Mancini has a .268/.347/.404 line through 401 plate appearances. He’s connected on just ten home runs, a bit short of the 21-plus homer pace he posted in every healthy season between 2017-21. Despite the drop in power output, Mancini has a 10% above average barrel rate and an average output speed of 89.6 MPH which are each in line with his career marks. It seems Mancini’s dive into long balls has more to do with changes to the ball and deepening the Orioles’ left-field wall than a reflection that his power has truly receded.
Right-handed hitter Mancini also has a generally solid mix of strikeouts and walks. He’s stoking 21.4% of his plate appearances, just shy of the league average and among the lowest rates of his career. Mancini is a well-balanced bat that will likely reduce the playing time of Yuli Gurriel. The defending AL batting champion is a longtime member of the Houston organization, but he has a disappointing .243/.293/.392 line on the year. Houston would have been looking for offensive upgrades, which could supplant Gurriel on the depth chart. While the club was linked to Josh Bell and Willson Contrerasthey pivoted to Mancini.
It’s another addition to a Houston club that already boasts one of the best offenses in the league. The Astros come into play Monday with a .240/.318/.425 line that translates to an offense 13 percentage points better than the league, according to wRC+. Houston’s raw point total is a little less impressive, however, as the club ranks 12th in the majors with 461 points scored.
Mancini has some experience in the corner outfield, but he’s mostly a first base or designated hitter option. The Astros have Kyle Tucker as lead right fielder, but left fielder Michael Brantley has been on the injured list for over a month and still has an uncertain recovery schedule. Yordan Alvarez designated the considered hitter, leaving first base and perhaps some occasional left-field fill work as the clearest path to in-game time for Mancini.
Over the past few months, Mancini has looked like one of the best bats that could be available this summer. The Orioles, however, are 16-7 this month to get back to .500 with a few months to go. Baltimore is less than three games away from the last Wild Card spot in the American League, which apparently raises at least some questions about their motivation to eliminate players from the MLB roster. At least in Mancini’s case, they remain committed to their goal of bolstering the roster for 2023 and beyond, but it’s a move that is likely to disappoint at least part of the clubhouse and fan base.
Mancini had been a member of the organization throughout his career, one of the few productive big leaguers to remain on the MLB roster throughout the franchise’s recent rebuild. He has long been well-regarded in the community, and that became especially true following his 2020 victory over colon cancer. He was rightly named the AL Returning Player of the Year the last season.
Mancini, 30, will likely be a free agent at the end of the season, making him a rental pick-up for the Astros. He is playing this year on a salary of $7.5 million, of which approximately $2.72 million is yet to be paid. Houston will assume that tab as well as buying out $250,000 on a $10 million mutual option for 2023. (Mutual options are almost never exercised by player and team, and Mancini seems likely to waive his end. in search of a multi-year pact This winter).