Mark Trumbo Trade Rumors: Ideal Landing Spots, Trade Packages for Halos Slugger
The Major League Baseball offseason has already seen its share of bombshell transactions, but it's still waiting for the Trum-bombshell to drop.
Silly puns aside, a trade of Los Angeles Angels slugger Mark Trumbo could indeed happen soon. His market began to heat up on the first day of the winter meetings on Monday, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that as many as 12 teams are interested in him.
Trying to find a good fit for Trumbo, however, isn't easy. ESPN's Buster Olney reported a while back that the Angels want to get pitching for him, and pitching is precious. An added difficulty, according to Olney, is that Trumbo's value isn't very high. He has power, but not much else (hint: .299 career OBP).
So rather than try to imagine which clubs make up the dozen teams supposedly interested in Trumbo, I did my best to narrow it down to five realistic trading partners for the Angels instead.
And they are...
Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.
In late November, Troy Renck of The Denver Post reported that the Colorado Rockies had talked to the Angels about Trumbo. At the time, they were on the lookout for Todd Helton's successor at first base, a position where Trumbo's quietly a solid defender.
The Rockies have since filled that need by signing Justin Morneau, but the move before that one was a trade that sent Dexter Fowler to Houston and opened up a hole in center field. As Colorado general manager Bill Geivett told the Associated Press, that hole will be filled by Carlos Gonzalez.
That means the Rockies might still be interested in Trumbo as a left fielder. They certainly have a need for his right-handed power, as the Rockies ranked in the lower half of MLB in right-handed ISO in 2013.
The Rockies don't have much appealing pitching to offer the Angels, but they do have enough depth for something to happen. The Angels could look past his ugly ERA and take a chance on Juan Nicasio, and fellow MLB Lead Writer Jason Martinez suggested young left-hander Drew Pomeranz as a possibility.
The ideal scenario for the Angels, however, is somebody who hasn't made it to the majors yet: Eddie Butler. He's closer to the big leagues than fellow top prospect Jonathan Gray and is certainly appealing after posting a 1.80 ERA across three minor league levels in 2013.
The Angels would probably have to sweeten the deal to get the Rockies to bite. One idea would be to offer them Hank Conger, a controllable catcher whose defense behind the dish would be a welcome change from that of Wilin Rosario.
But since Butler's a bit of a pie-in-the-sky target for the Angels and the Rockies may not want Trumbo's glove opposite Michael Cuddyer's, we can get a bit more realistic than this.
Kansas City Royals
With Eric Hosmer at first base, Billy Butler at designated hitter and Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Norichika Aoki in the outfield, the Royals don't have an obvious need for Trumbo.
They do have a need for his bat, however. The Kansas City Royals got a .108 ISO out of their right-handed hitters in 2013, second worst in MLB. To this end, Trumbo would be an upgrade.
Thus do we have some context for this tweet from ESPN's Jayson Stark:
One idea would be to swap Trumbo for Butler straight up, but that wouldn't solve the Angels' need for pitching. They're likely much more inclined to deal for somebody like hard-throwing left-hander Danny Duffy or, better yet, one of Kansas City's top young arms.
That means Kyle Zimmer, who has advanced as far as Double-A, or Yordano Ventura, who has debuted in the majors. Trumbo probably wouldn't be enough to get Royals GM Dayton Moore to budge, so we once again find ourselves looking at a situation that would require some deal-sweetening.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto could tempt Moore by offering Howie Kendrick, though he'd need to get more in return than just Zimmer or Ventura. Emilio Bonifacio would have to go to Anaheim, as well as a bullpen arm like Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar or Kelvin Herrera.
If we want to get really realistic, however, we need to move on to the kind of arms Trumbo is actually worth on his own: the mid-end/back-end kind.
Tampa Bay Rays
We've talked about two clubs that are set at first base. Now it's time to talk about a club that's not.
The Tampa Bay Rays have lost James Loney to free agency, and his price is probably going to be a bit beyond Tampa Bay's comfort level after his bounce-back 2013 season. Besides which, the Rays might prefer more power at first after getting less ISO out of first base than all but three other teams, according to FanGraphs.
A trade involving David Price won't happen, if that's what you're thinking. But the Rays do have a guy who looks like a perfect fit for a one-for-one swap with the Angels: Jeremy Hellickson.
Hellickson is coming off a season in which he had an ERA over 5.00, but the SIERA statistic is of the mind that he had never pitched better. His trade value is thus neither high nor low, not unlike Trumbo's.
Furthermore, both Trumbo and Hellickson are due for free agency after 2016. Neither side would be sacrificing any controllability in a straight-up deal.
The complication here, however, is that Trumbo's not as great a fit for the Rays' lineup as he is for their first base hole. They already have plenty of right-handed power in Evan Longoria and Wil Myers, and Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar are righty swingers as well.
As such, there could be greater interest in Trumbo in...
The Pittsburgh Pirates are yet another team that finished in the lower half of MLB in right-handed ISO, and they also finished in the lower half of the league in right field ISO and first base ISO.
Trumbo has extra appeal because of how he would effectively replace the right-handed power the Pirates were getting from Marlon Byrd toward the end of the season. Trumbo could take his place in right field or perhaps start over Gaby Sanchez at first base.
As for who would go to Anaheim, Gerrit Cole is certainly untouchable, and Francisco Liriano is only one year from free agency, not to mention a part the Pirates need to succeed in 2014. It's also hard to imagine any amount of deal-sweetening landing the Angels Jameson Taillon, who is nearly ready to join Cole in Pittsburgh's rotation.
But Jeff Locke? He could work.
Locke was an All-Star in 2013, but he struggled badly enough in the second half (6.12 ERA) to get himself demoted. His main problem is a control problem, which played a part in his second-half struggles. That's not encouraging.
Still, Locke does have good stuff, and the Pirates could be interested in getting something for that stuff before its value is hurt any further. Trumbo would be a good something for them to get, and the Angels would be getting a southpaw who's controllable through 2018.
But if we want to get really realistic, we need to go to...
If you've heard any of Monday's buzz, this should come as no surprise to you. Of the 12 teams supposedly interested in dealing for Trumbo, the Arizona Diamondbacks are clearly the most interested.
The D-Backs are "pushing," according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports says talks are centered around two Arizona pitchers:
Angels primarily focused on Cahill and Skaggs in Trumbo talks. Pitching first for Angels, of course.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) December 10, 2013
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times says that the Angels are not interested in dealing for Tyler Skaggs, an unproven lefty, straight up. And that's OK, because Trevor Cahill's a better fit for them anyway.
He's more experienced, for one. He's experienced in the AL West, for two. And for three, he's the kind of mid-rotation innings-eater who would fit well behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Cahill's not a great pitcher, but he gets enough ground balls to maintain an ERA in the high 3.00s or low 4.00s.
Also: Cahill is controllable through 2017 thanks to a team-friendly deal that includes a pair of options for '16 and '17 at $13 million apiece. That money's a bit more practical for the Angels than it is for the Diamondbacks, and moving it to get Trumbo would address one of their major weaknesses for 2013.
The Diamondbacks, obviously, have plenty of power at first base in Paul Goldschmidt. But no team got less power out of its outfield, and Trumbo is a fit in left field alongside some great defenders in center fielder A.J. Pollock and right fielder Gerardo Parra.
If there's music to be made with the Angels, it's a fair bet it's the D-Backs who will be the ones making it.