The value of a backend top 100 prospect first basemen varies a bit, but a conservative figure is that such a player is worth about 12-15 MM. The Orioles may be able to use this value to find themselves a right fielder or a starting pitcher to round out their rotation. However, having a useful prospect does not mean teams are hanging around with MLB ready players to off load. A club will have to both be in rebuilding mode and in need of a future first baseman. The two clubs that come immediately to mind are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Colorado Rockies.
When evaluating the future performance of players, I used a simple approach instead of the comp model approach. I took STEAMER's 2016 projected WAR and then moved forward with an age curve. Until age 27, an increase of 0.25 WAR per year. From 27-30, no change in WAR. From 31-37, a decrease of 0.5 WAR per year and past 37, a decrease of -1 WAR per year.
With the signing of Gerardo Parra, giving the Rockies too many outfielders, and the media leaks that the club is looking hard at available starting pitching, the Rockies curiously appear to be trying to make a push for playoff relevance. While their farm system is bereft of an obvious first baseman of the future, therefore, giving them a reason for wanting someone like Trey Mancini; they may prefer more MLB ready talent. With that in mind, Mancini could provide two useful things: salary relief or as a promising second piece in a package.
The player the club would obviously want to dismiss is Carlos Gonzalez. The bat has slowed and the defense is not all that impressive, plus he is due 17 MM this year and 20 MM for 2017. A fringe move would be someone like Charlie Blackmon who is set to make about 4.5 MM in his first year of arbitration. Moving his salary would provide some payroll relief and a multiyear deal for a starting pitcher could be backloaded to take advantage of Gonzalez leaving in two seasons. Corey Dickerson is the potential prize of the bunch as he has four more years of control in a package that is quite suitable for a second division outfielder.
The value of Mancini (12-15 MM) is nearly equivalent to what Blackmon could be expected to provide in value. One would think the Rockies would want another piece that might be more relevant to their current roster. It might be a stretch, but there might be some interest in pitchers like Vance Worley or T.J. McFarland who are not exceptionally meaningful on the Orioles roster. Of course, this line of thought is more about Blackmon being sent out as a way to open up payroll as opposed to McFarland or Worley being of much value. A 4.5 MM salary for 2016 for Blackmon, would likely provide the Orioles up to 10 MM to find themselves a starting pitcher bounce back option like Cliff Lee or Mat Latos.
The Rockies might push more for Mike Wright or Oliver Drake. Wright should cause the Orioles to pause. A Mancini and Wright deal for Dickerson would make more sense in terms of value for value, but the Rockies would have to think well of Wright as a starter because such a move would not immediately shed payroll. If the Rockies really adore Wright, this might be the ideal move for both sides.
Carlos Gonzalez is the obvious move here, but the swing in value between him and Mancini is 30 MM. A piece would have to accompany Gonzalez in that deal. A piece like David Dahl, which would be an obscene desire to vacate Gonzalez' salary. A more reasonable deal would be Mancini for Gonzalez (with money coming from Colorado: 4 MM this year and 10 MM in 2017) along with prospect 3B Ryan McMahon or OF Raimel Tapia. A garnish like T.J. McFarland or Vance Worley would also make sense. This deal would likely mean that whatever the Orioles' solution to pitching is, it will be internal.
The Brewers are in a difficult situation as was explained earlier here by Ryan Romano. Their attempt to play out the string imploded in a way Orioles fans might recall from 1998 and 1999. This has placed the team in a position to cash in chips and think about building toward two or three years down the line. As it is, the club has no ideal first baseman of the future. The club has floated Ryan Braun around, but no serious discussions appear to have taken place. Braun might sound interesting, but he is likely a 60 MM loss in value to anyone. He no longer performs well in right field, but can play there short term. He is more of a designated hitter these days. The penalty for shifting to DH is about the same as his defense deficiency, so his overall value is likely the same at either position. For the Orioles, he could play right this year and then move on to DH the next four. A fair deal would be Braun plus 50 MM for Trey Mancini. I cannot imagine they would be willing to sink that much money into a player who is not on their roster and only get a promising first base prospect in return.
More likely than sinking big money to bid their marqee player adieu, would be for the club to ticket some of their pitching for trade. The Orioles, hungry for a right fielder, are also hungry to add to their starting rotation. The Brewers have three likely options: Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta, and Matt Garza. We will kindly not mention Zach Davies any further.
Wily Peralta makes more sense for the Orioles to target. He is a pitcher who likely will not be with the Brewers once they rebuild and provides decent depth for the Orioles. Injury concerns lessen his value a little bit, so it might be reasonable to think that Peralta could be dealt straight up for Mancini.
Finally, Garza is who the Brewers would want to separate with. He has 38 MM coming to him over the final three years of his contract and is coming off a disappointing 2015. Similar to Carlos Gonzalez, the difference in value with Mancini to the Brewers is about 30 MM. I think Garza is such a poor value that the Brewers would likely hold onto him to see if he bounces back and can be dealt without having to add money. J.J. Hardy and him would make an easy pairing except that the Brewers are still working with Jean Segura at shortstop. Maybe a deal of Garza and Segura for Hardy and a potentially useful young pitcher, like Tyler Wilson, would be of use. I imagine Hardy would not be keen on such a deal, but it would grant him that third year.
Trey Mancini is a decent trade piece. He is on the threshold of being considered a true prospect and has that sort of transitional value. The Orioles, having signed Chris Davis, have limited use for Mancini who profiles as a genuine first baseman. Mancini's bat would need to develop immensely to have a place at the MLB level for the club. Therefore, it makes sense to repurpose that value for something the club needs. Milwaukee and Colorado are two clubs that appear to be obvious fits for Mancini.
While Corey Dickerson or Jimmy Nelson would be the prizes from those clubs, they likely require a considerable amount of talent to depart to Baltimore. More likely options, such as Charlie Blackmon and Wily Peralta, may have some obstacles in place that may make it difficult for the Orioles to acquire them for their true value. Finally, obvious players who are available would be Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Garza. Their pay does not match their contracts, so it may be a challenge for the Orioles to take on proper risk with them.
As it stands, Charlie Blackmon seems to me to be the best likely available option. He has the ability to stand at all three outfield slots and provides a useful left handed bat to the lineup. He suffers from a considerable split and is more or less a second division outfielder, but he would have some use and some cost control as he works through his three option years.