BALTIMORE -- Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Baltimore Orioles acquire a slugging outfielder on the cheap, hoping his power potential and a change of scenery will trump his defensive shortcomings and inconsistent past, then watch as he absolutely demolishes opposing pitchers and leads his team to the top of the division.
Mark Trumbo, come on down. You’re the next contestant on the “The Price Is Right.”
When the Orioles traded for Trumbo -- who homered twice in Baltimore’s 4-1 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday -- expectations were modest. The deal, which cost the Birds nothing more than 30-year-old, third-string catcher Steve Clevenger, looks like a steal so far. Just like the Nelson Cruz deal looked like a steal back in 2014.
But that’s just the beginning of the similarities.
Trumbo, who was eligible for arbitration at the time of the trade, will earn $9.15 million this season. In 2014, Cruz had an $8 million salary. Relative peanuts in both cases.
Trumbo was coming off a couple of down-ish seasons that had people questioning whether his earlier success was a thing of the past. Cruz was coming off a 50-game PED suspension that had folks doubting whether he could repeat his past production.
Trumbo, who was supposed to be an insurance policy if the Orioles didn’t re-sign Chris Davis, isn’t known for his glove in the outfield. Cruz, primarily a DH, isn’t known for his glove at any position.
Then there are the numbers. Here’s how both players fared through their first 25 games with the O’s:
Cruz: .289 average, .373 on-base percentage, .557 slugging, 7 homers, 25 RBIs
Trumbo: .337 average, .381 on-base percentage, .612 slugging, 8 homers, 22 RBIs
They’re practically twins.
Perhaps the most important similarity between the two sluggers is that they both joined Orioles teams that weren’t expected to do much of anything in the AL East, but thanks to their immediate impact, doubters had to shake their heads early and often:
On May 2, 2014, Cruz hit his eighth home run in a game the Orioles won to move into first place by a half-game. On May 3, 2016, Trumbo hit his eighth home run in a game the Orioles won to move into first place by a half-game.
Heck, maybe they’re the same person. After all, have you ever seen Mark Trumbo and Nelson Cruz in the same place at the same time? You know, other than on the dozens of occasions when their respective teams have faced each other.
Whether NC-squared (Next Coming of Nelson Cruz) can maintain his torrid pace remains to be seen. Whether he can lead the league in homers and lead his team to the playoffs (both of which Cruz did), nobody knows. But for now, Trumbo couldn’t care less. He’s too busy enjoying the ride.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Trumbo. “At-bat wise, I think I’ve done kind of what I was hoping to do. There’s still a number of things I’d like to accomplish and shore up a few mechanical things, but as far as the numbers themselves go, I think it’s about all I could ask for.”
Same goes for the Orioles.