With the news that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have signed Albert Pujols, the Angels now have two other first basemen in Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo that the Cleveland Indians could acquire in a trade.
I still can't believe that Pujols left St. Louis - especially for the Angels — but that is neither here nor there. What fascinates me is the massive surplus of first basemen the Angels now have. Sure, they are in the process of trying to move Trumbo to third base, but the fact still remains that the Angels will likely deal at least one of their current first basemen to make room for Pujols.
Well, the Indians are in dire need of a first baseman. Do either Trumbo or Morales fit?
Let's start with Trumbo, who just finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. In 2011, Trumbo posted this line:
.254/.291/.477 slash line, .753 OPS (109 OPS+), .327 wOBA, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 2.3 fWAR
There is definitely some pop in his bat, but that sub-.300 OBP is very worrisome. While there's hope that he can improve his ability to get on base, there's a good chance he won't. If that plus power dries up even a little bit, Trumbo's value will drop precipitously.
Considering he's already on the edge of starter worthiness (a 2.0 fWAR is considered average for a starter), I'm not all in on Trumbo. He'll also probably demand a fairly good return considering how he just finished in the AL Rookie of the Year ballot.
If Trumbo isn't a sure thing, then Morales can't be either. Despite looking like a breakout player in 2009 and 2010, Morales broke his leg jumping onto home plate after a walkoff home run. Morales hasn't made it back to the majors yet and isn't even guaranteed to be ready for Opening Day 2012.
How should the Indians react to the Albert Pujols signing and its ramifications?
There is no denying that Morales has some real talent, however. In 2009 and 2010 (before he was injured), he seemed destined for stardom:
.302/.353/.548 slash line, .901 OPS (137 OPS+), .376 wOBA, 34 HR, 112 RBI, 3.5 fWAR (HR, RBI, fWAR all averaged to one season's worth)
Those are some close to elite numbers. So while I'd like to see the Indians avoid trading for Trumbo, I'd be all for getting Morales. He can hardly demand much more than a player to be named later because he hasn't played in one and a half years and the Indians would be getting a player who will only be 29 this season and has tremendous upside.
I would love to see the Indians acquire the right-handed hitting Carlos Lee from the Astros to spend time in both the outfield and at first base and the switch-hitting Morales to play a good amount of first base. These moves would give the Indians a fairly power-packed lineup with depth and could lead to an AL Central title, if not more.
There is no doubt in my mind that Morales is worth a flier from the Indians. He's still a cheap (he will make approximately $2.8 million in arbitration in 2012) first baseman with lots of talent. Maybe the Albert Pujols signing will give the Indians the first baseman they so desperately need. Who knows?