Mancini, O's come to terms, avoid arbitration

Deal with first baseman includes mutual option for 2023 season

April 4th, 2022

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Trey Mancini had admitted that he was surprised that he and the Orioles were not able to come to an agreement for a salary figure for 2022, his final year of his arbitration eligibility. And there was lingering uncertainty of the arbitration hearing set to take place during the season.

But as Saturday night came and went, those worries were abated.

The Orioles announced that they came to terms with Mancini, the current face of the franchise and one of baseball’s best recent stories, on a salary figure for 2022, meaning the two sides avoided arbitration. The deal also includes a mutual option for the ’23 season.

The contract is worth $7.5 million in 2022 with a $250,000 buyout on a $10 million contract for ’23, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, meaning Mancini is guaranteed to make at least $7.75 million on the deal. Mancini had filed at $8 million, and the Orioles countered at $7.375 million.

The club has not confirmed the financial details of the contract.

“I think we got there in a bit of a roundabout way. But at the same time, with the hearings being TBD this year, I don't think that necessarily influenced my decision to to take it or not, but we thought that it was a good number and preferable to not drag it into this season,” Mancini said on Monday, his first time addressing his new contract. “So it is nice. As much as I wasn't going to let it be a distraction, I think once a date is set and you know you're going to go to a case, you never know how you're going to feel kind of leading up to it. So it is nice to have it done.”

Mancini does not think the addition of a mutual option will do much if anything to extend his tenure with the club, nor change anything about the ongoing swirling of trade rumors, even though it creates a pathway on paper to a 2023 reunion. Mancini is entering his final year of arbitration, and thereby team control, earning speculation that the Orioles could move him to a contender in order to add to their farm system.

“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's not too many scenarios where I feel like where both sides take it. It's usually one way or the other.”

But the move, which came on the eve of the final week of Spring Training, does much for the O’s to remove any lingering discomfort with their longest-tenured player and fan favorite. Mancini, now two years out from a colon cancer diagnosis that earned him the support of the baseball world and led to him winning AL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2021, was entering his final year of arbitration in ’22, though trade rumors have swirled and likely will continue to.

And the move was a bit of a surprise, given executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias’ tenor on the day of the deadline to exchange salary figures on March 23. A club that typically sees arbitration hearings out, Elias said that the organization was prepared to head to a hearing with Mancini and lefty John Means, but now one won't be necessary for the former.

Elias said that the addition of a mutual option was reason to re-engage with Mancini and come to a resolution without involving an independent panel of arbitrators.

“I'm glad that we got that figured out,” Elias said on Monday. “I mean, from a number of different angles, from a number of levels, I think it's a good outcome.”

Means, the Opening Day starter, is still without a contract figure for 2022. He filed at $3.1 million while the Orioles countered at $2.7 million. Elias declined to comment whether an agreement with Means could come before an arbitration hearing, which is yet to be set.