January 27, 2017

BALTIMORE (AP) Mark Trumbo figured his first foray into free agency would be a blast.

''You kind of go into it thinking that you might have a ton of suitors. You lead the league in home runs, who's not interested in that?'' he said. ''And then you realize that there aren't that many vacancies at times for what you do, especially this year.''

Trumbo topped the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles in 2016. He then received a qualifying offer of $17.2 million - which he spurned.

He entered free agency along with heavy hitters Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Yoenis Cespedes. As it turned out, Trumbo ended up right where he started: in Baltimore.

The 31-year-old slugger finalized a $37.5 million, three-year contract late last week. Though it wasn't as much as he was hoping for, at least Trumbo won't have to test the market again until 2020.

Speaking Friday at Camden Yards, where the Orioles held a news conference to formally welcome him back, Trumbo smiled as he put on his familiar No. 45 jersey.

''I'm quite happy with it,'' he said of the deal. ''Going year to year, for six years at the major league level, with no guarantee beyond a one-year deal, that can be a bit nerve-wracking. Getting rewarded with a multi-year deal is quite nice. It does feel pretty satisfying.''

Getting Trumbo back in a lineup with long-ball hitters Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop means Baltimore intends to follow the same formula that got the team into the playoffs last season.

''Of course, we love pitching, defense and three-run homers,'' vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. ''So we're glad that Mark's back from that perspective. He's a good player, he fits in with the team, he's a good teammate.''

Duquette wanted Trumbo all along, but at a price that made sense.

''It's just that we wanted to get the deal that was right for the club in our market,'' Duquette said, ''and eventually we got that.''

Trumbo played with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Orioles last offseason. He thoroughly enjoyed his first season in Baltimore, and not just because he had a career-high 108 RBIs to go with his personal-best home run total.

''I'm thrilled to be back with the ballclub that was my first choice by far,'' Trumbo said. ''I tried to make that clear throughout the process, that this was the place I felt was right for me from a personal standpoint. But also this is a place I know I can do well in. I found the right home for me. It took a little while but it all came together.''

Trumbo heard the talk about his below-average play in the outfield, and how that might have impacted the interest he received. He played in 159 games last year, most of them as a designated hitter.

''I think I do an adequate job (in the outfield),'' he insisted. ''I know I get hammered in a lot of places for some of the things I do, and that's the opinion of many, but at the end of the day I strive to make the routine plays out there. I throw the ball well. I'm accurate. I may not make some of the Web Gem catches, but I definitely don't think I'm a liability.''

Whether manager Buck Showalter chooses to use Trumbo at DH or in the field, the important thing for the Orioles is they've got his bat in the lineup.

''He came through with a lot of clutch hits, including in the playoffs against Toronto,'' Duquette said. ''And beyond that he's got some great personal qualities. He's very dependable, he shows up to work every day, he's got an excellent work ethic. He's a very, very good veteran player and is an example for younger players in the organization.''

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