In a perfect world, Mark Trumbo’s foot is healed completely when position players report to spring training on February 27, and by the time they depart Tempe for Anaheim the second-year player has full command of the hot corner, thus solving two of the Halos’ most pressing dilemmas:
A: What do they do with Trumbo now that Albert Pujols is here?
B: Who is going to play third base?
If Trumbo is able to build upon his impressive rookie campaign offensively while managing not to be offensive at third base, the Angels' brass will consider themselves blessed and can turn their collective attentions to other pressing matters, such as upgrading a bullpen that, on paper at least, appears very shaky at the moment and far from playoff-caliber.
However, the world is far from perfect, and if Trumbo is not able to channel his inner Doug DeCinces and proves instead to be a liability at third base, then the aforementioned questions remain unanswered and could force the team’s hand into dealing the budding star.
The idea of trading someone like Trumbo may not be a popular topic in Halo Country but the Angels painted themselves into this potential corner when they went out and got Pujols. He’s a lock at first base, and assuming Kendrys Morales is healthy and back to his MVP-caliber self, he’s going to be their everyday DH.
Where does that leave Trumbo?
There’s no denying his talent and potential to be a very good player for a very long time. This is not Brandon Wood we’re talking about. Trumbo has proven he can hit at the big league level. He is a known commodity.
But when you are trying to win now, as the Angels clearly are, and you have a valuable asset that is not being used, then don’t you owe it to yourself to explore the possibility of turning that asset into an upgrade somewhere else?
That’s the question the Angels should be asking themselves as they monitor Trumbo’s progress at third base this spring. I’ll do them the favor and start asking it now.
Now, the balancing act here is to acquire assets in return that significantly upgrade the team while not taking on much, if any, additional payroll. Since Trumbo made $414,000 last season, that means the team should be looking at receiving a similar young talent in return.
Something like what the Yankees and Mariners pulled off recently with their Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade. A trade of proven, marquee young talents that addresses both teams’ needs and makes them both better.
To that end, here are five possible trade scenarios involving Mark Trumbo that will make the Angels a better team in 2012 and beyond and do the same for the team they trade with.
1. To the Minnesota Twins along with another player for RP Glen Perkins and 3B Danny Valencia
What the Angels would get:
A solid, left-handed reliever to solidify the Angels’ bullpen along with a young third baseman with proven power production and plenty of upside.
Valencia had 18 errors last year, second among American League third basemen, but he showed promise at the plate, where he hit .246 with 15 HRs, 28 doubles, and 72 RBIs after hitting over .300 his rookie year.
Perkins was an excellent situational reliever for the Twins last year, striking out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings, and would give Angel manager Mike Scioscia a valuable weapon to use against left-handed hitters.
What the Twins would get:
Minnesota’s current first baseman, former All-Star Justin Morneau, is signed through next year but has battled injuries the past two seasons. Morneau would look great as the Twins' full-time DH, a role inhabited not particularly well last year by 40-year-old Jim Thome.
Trumbo would fill the void at first base, and it would clear the way at third for highly-touted prospect Miguel Sano. Plus, having Trumbo would allow the Twins to let Morneau walk after next season and slide Joe Mauer into the DH spot.
What should the Angels do about their logjam at first base?
2 – To the Pittsburgh Pirates along with another player for RP Joel Hanrahan and 3B Pedro Alvarez.
What the Angels would get:
An All-Star closer at a very affordable price who could reprise that role in Anaheim or set up Jordan Walden along with a young and underachieving third baseman who wouldn’t have the weighty expectations that were attached to him when the Pirates made him the second overall pick in the 2008 draft and people were comparing him to a young A-Rod.
Hanrahan was stellar last year with 40 saves and an ERA of 1.83, and the team cannot be completely sold on Walden as the closer after his 10 blown saves last year, so adding the Pirates’ closer to the mix would represent a significant upgrade.
Alvarez, on the other hand, struggled last season with both injuries and his play. It’s too soon to call him a bust, but a change of scenery and protection in the lineup might be just what he needs to unlock that massive potential of his.
What the Pirates would get:
A young, proven commodity in Trumbo who would be under the team’s control for the next five years and a perennial All-Star candidate now that Pujols and Prince Fielder have bolted for the American League.
The type of numbers Trumbo put up last season are exactly the kind they were expecting from Alvarez but didn’t get. Trading for Trumbo would allow the team to turn the page on Alvarez and move newly-acquired Casey McGehee to third base, where he played last season for Milwaukee.
The loss of Hanrahan would hurt, but the Pirates aren’t going to contend this season, and closers can always be found, so it is in the team’s best interests to sell while Hanrahan’s value is high.
Trumbo plus another solid young player would only help the Pirates in their goal to be NL Central contenders by 2013.
3 – To the Chicago Cubs as part of a package of players for SS Starlin Castro.
What the Angels would get:
A huge upgrade from an offensive standpoint at the typically weak shortstop position and another exciting young player to add to the Angels' lineup at a very low cost.
After busting out with 211 hits last season, including 36 doubles and 10 home runs, Castro has established himself as one of the game’s brightest young stars. He’s an All-Star who’s not even 21 yet and a future MVP candidate.
So why on earth would the Cubs even consider trading him?
What the Cubs would get:
The Angels are loaded with premium prospects and new Cubs GM Theo Epstein knows it. He has the opportunity to go down as a legend among legends if he can lead the Cubs to the World Series after what he did in Boston.
To do this, he needs players in plural. If he can turn one All-Star into three highly productive players, he’d instantly upgrade the team while making it that much more attractive to free agents.
I don’t know what it would take to make a deal, but if the Angels offered a package of Trumbo, P Garrett Richards, SS Erick Aybar and C Hank Conger (expendable with the addition of Chris Iannetta), wouldn’t Epstein have to take a long, hard look at pulling the trigger?
4 – To the Brewers with C Hank Conger for RP John Axford and 3B Taylor Green
What the Angels get:
Similar to the Pirates deal, the Halos would net a top-notch closer to add to their bullpen and a talented, young third baseman with plenty of upside.
Axford converted 46 out of 48 save opportunities last season to power the Brewers to the NL Central crown. Green made his MLB debut in 2011 hitting .270 over 20 games after hitting .336 with 22 HRs in AAA prior to being called up.
What the Brewers get:
A replacement for Prince Fielder, who is considerably better than any options they currently have. Continued protection in the lineup for Ryan Braun. A marked improvement of their chances to defending their NL Central title. A young, promising catcher with major league experience who has already shown he can hit at this level.
The Brewers can turn the closer’s role over to Francisco Rodriguez and cash in on Axford while his value is high.
5 – To the Blue Jays with P Garrett Richards for 3B Brett Lawrie
What the Angels get:
One of the more promising young third basemen in all of baseball, Lawrie made his debut a year ago and did not disappoint, hitting .293 with 9 HRs and 25 RBIs in only 43 games. He would be able to contribute right away while continuing to get better until he becomes a legitimate All-Star candidate.
What the Blue Jays get:
Trumbo at first base, which allows Adam Lind to DH full time and Edwin Encarnacion to move to left field. The end result is more offense for the Blue Jays to go with a front-of-the-rotation prospect in Richards, who could join the rotation immediately and make them better as well.