The Angels are in desperate need for starting pitching this offseason without many great options behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in the rotation. And since they're not expected to be big spenders in free agency, a trade could be expected.
And since they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, a trade of one of their big league hitters is likely. To be more specific, it would make the most sense to trade from an area of strength, and that would be their outfield.
With Josh Hamilton untradeable because of his hefty contract combined with his decline in production and Mike Trout untouchable because he's a superstar making slightly over the minimum salary, all signs point to either Peter Bourjos or Mark Trumbo being shopped.
So it was no surprise that Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted earlier Tuesday that the Angels have indicated a willingness to trade either player for pitching.
While the 26-year-old Bourjos flashed some offensive ability in his first full big league season in 2011 (.765 OPS, 12 HR, 26 2B, 11 3B, 22 SB) to go along with exceptional defense in center field, he's had trouble staying on the field since due to injuries. And he's struggled at the plate when he has played (.659 OPS in 156 games in 2012-2013).
Bourjos' value is down and the Angels will quickly discover that it's not the ideal time to trade him.
Trumbo, on the other hand, has averaged 32 homers and 94 runs batted in during his first three big league seasons. Even though the 27-year-old has some holes in his game—he strikes out a lot (152 strikeouts per season), doesn't get on base enough (.299 career on-base percentage) and doesn't offer strong defense at a premium position as Bourjos does—plenty of teams would love to add a proven power hitter with three years left of club control to the middle of their lineup.
Not only will the Angels find that trading Trumbo gives them their best shot at acquiring the young and controllable starting pitcher they're reportedly seeking, replacing a first baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter can be found at a value on the free-agent market.
In the Angels' case, though, they already have a potential replacement for Trumbo in left-handed hitting Kole Calhoun, who posted an .809 OPS with eight homers in only 58 big league games in 2013. He's also versatile, capable of playing every outfield spot and first base.
Now that we've established that Trumbo is a very likely trade candidate, let's take a look at some teams with a need for power and enough pitching depth to potentially strike a deal.
The Diamondbacks hit just 130 homers in 2013, tied for 25th in baseball. So it's really no surprise that general manager Kevin Towers is interested in acquiring some more power for his lineup, as was reported last month by Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Towers is open to adding a third baseman or corner outfielder—Martin Prado would shift to left field if a third baseman was acquired—and it appears he's leaning towards the trade market after acknowledging that a free-agent power hitter probably wouldn't fit into the team's payroll.
A trade would likely cost him one of his center fielders—Adam Eaton or Gerardo Parra—or starting pitchers. For Trumbo, who would slot in as the starting left fielder and likely cleanup hitter versus lefties and fifth or sixth hitter against right-handed starters, Towers would need to give up one of his young starting pitchers.
While Trumbo is unlikely to net the Angels an elite pitching prospect such as Archie Bradley, the D'backs might be willing to send Tyler Skaggs (pictured) back to the Angels.
The 22-year-old lefty, who was originally drafted by the Angels with the 40th overall pick in the 2009 draft, was traded to Arizona along with All-Star pitcher Pat Corbin in the 2012 deal for Dan Haren.
Considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game over the past few seasons, Skaggs' value has dipped slightly after posting a 5.43 ERA in 13 big league starts during multiple stints. With lefties Corbin and Wade Miley entrenched in the rotation and Bradley closing in on the majors, it would make sense for Towers to dangle Skaggs in order to fill a need.
If the two teams can agree on a deal, here's what the Diamondbacks' projected lineup would look like with Trumbo. Keep in mind that Towers would then have the ability to trade one of his outfielders with the newly created depth.
1 Adam Eaton, CF
2 Aaron Hill, 2B
3 Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4 Miguel Montero, C
5 Mark Trumbo, LF
6 Martin Prado, 3B
7 Cody Ross/Gerardo Parra, RF
8 Didi Gregorius, SS
As things stand, the Red Sox have six very good major league pitchers to fill five spots in the 2014 rotation and several other young pitchers who are either close or ready to make an impact. Something has to give and it's probably a trade or two.
General manager Ben Cherington could look to fill one or two lineup holes, which include catcher, first base and possibly an outfield spot, via trade. If Mike Napoli departs for a long-term deal—the Sox prefer a short-term deal, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe—Trumbo could be at the top of Cherington's radar, and he'll very likely utilize his pitching depth to swing a deal with the Halos.
Lefty Felix Doubront, who still has four years of club control and is entering his first year of arbitration, could be a match. Another option would be a deal for one of the team's many young live-armed pitchers, which includes Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster (pictured).
Barnes might have the highest ceiling, although he could use another full season in the minors. Ranaudo and Webster could win a spot in the Angels' 2014 rotation. Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman are two others who could be of interest in a trade package.
If the two teams can agree on a deal, here's what the Red Sox's projected lineup would look like with Trumbo and before any other expected moves.
1 Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
2 Shane Victorino, RF
3 Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4 David Ortiz, DH
5 Mark Trumbo, 1B
6 Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava, LF
7 Xander Bogaerts, SS
8 Will Middlebrooks, 3B
9 David Ross, C
The Rockies may not necessarily be desperate for more power—they need pitching more than anything—but they might not want to pass on an opportunity to replace Todd Helton with Trumbo, a guy who can potentially hit 40 homers playing half of his games at Coors Field.
While it might not make a lot of sense for a team that needs pitching and has a hard time luring free-agent pitchers to Colorado to trade a young pitcher like lefty Drew Pomeranz, it's not a bad idea if they've already determined that he's going to have a hard time adjusting to the hitter-friendly confines of his home ballpark.
The 24-year-old Pomeranz spent most of the 2013 season in Triple-A, where he posted a 4.20 ERA in 15 starts. But in eight big league appearances, including four starts, Pomeranz allowed 15 earned runs, 25 hits and 19 walks in 21.2 innings pitched. In 26 starts with the Rockies in 2011-2012, he posted a 5.01 ERA.
For all we know, Pomeranz is a very good pitcher who won't realize his potential until he can escape Colorado.
With a trio of pitching prospects, Chad Bettis, Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, on the fast track to a spot in the big league rotation, the Rockies could be willing to part with Pomeranz in exchange for Trumbo.
If the two teams can agree on a deal, here's what the Rockies' projected lineup would look like with Trumbo.
1 Dexter Fowler, CF
2 Nolan Arenado, 3B
3 Carlos Gonzalez, LF
4 Troy Tulowitzki, SS
5 Michael Cuddyer, RF
6 Mark Trumbo, 1B
7 Wilin Rosario, C
8 Josh Rutledge, 2B
With Raul Ibañez and Kendrys Morales eligible for free agency, the Mariners are likely on the lookout for another power bat. While an inter-division trade can be difficult to pull off, the Angels and Mariners pulled off the Morales-for-Jason Vargas deal last winter and could find another opportunity for a similar deal this time around.
The players involved in this particular deal, however, would have several more years of team control as opposed to the one year that both Morales and Vargas had at the time of the deal.
Trumbo would likely fill the void in left field or designated hitter while the Angels would target one of the Mariners' young starters not named Taijuan Walker, who isn't going anywhere unless one of the best hitters in the game is coming back in return.
Lefties Danny Hultzen or James Paxton (pictured) would likely be the team's top target while right-handers Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer could be included in a package of players if the M's aren't willing to part with Hultzen or Paxton.
If the two teams can agree on a deal, here's what the Mariners' projected lineup would look like with Trumbo and before any other expected additions.
1 Dustin Ackley, CF
2 Nick Franklin, 2B
3 Kyle Seager, 3B
4 Justin Smoak, 1B
5 Mark Trumbo, LF
6 Michael Saunders, RF
7 Abraham Almonte, DH
8 Mike Zunino, C
9 Brad Miller, SS
Once again, the Rays will have at least one big hole to fill in the big league lineup and no internal options ready to step in. And once again, they have enough pitching depth to make a trade for a pretty good bat.
With James Loney eligible for free agency and likely to land a deal that is out of the Rays' price range after a strong season, Trumbo is a potential replacement at first base.
After David Price, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, the Rays will head into the offseason with Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson (pictured) and Jake Odorizzi the frontrunners for the last two rotation spots.
While the Angels might prefer Archer or Odorizzi, who each have six years left of club control remaining, the small market Rays might want to unload Hellickson, who is arbitration eligible for the first time and could become a free agent after the 2016 season.
The 26-year-old Hellickson, who was one of the best prospects in baseball a few years back and had a 3.06 ERA in the majors from 2010-2012, is coming off of a terrible second half of the season (6.23 ERA) and could benefit from a change of scenery.
If the two teams can agree on a deal, here's what the Rays' projected lineup would look like with Trumbo.
1 David DeJesus, RF
2 Ben Zobrist, 2B
3 Evan Longoria, 3B
4 Wil Myers, RF
5 Matt Joyce, DH
6 Mark Trumbo, 1B
7 Desmond Jennings, CF
8 Yunel Escobar, SS
9 Jose Lobaton, C