The Angels Would Trade Mark Trumbo For Pitching

Buster Olney reported today that Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo is available for pitching.

That news already has Pirates fans salivating, since the Pirates have a need at first base, a need in the middle of the order, and have a lot of pitching. The big thing that stands out with Trumbo is his power. He has hit 95 home runs over the last three years. There might be some fantasy baseball analysis involved with Trumbo, as he doesn’t do much beyond the home runs. He’s got a career .768 OPS, including a .747 mark in 2013. He strikes out a ton, with a career 25% strikeout rate, and a 27% rate in 2013. He did increase his walks last year, but only to 8%, and his career 6.3% isn’t strong.

Trumbo is basically Pedro Alvarez at first base. He hits a ton of home runs, he doesn’t draw a lot of walks, and he strikes out too much. Alvarez strikes out more than Trumbo, but also draws more walks. It’s not a bad thing to be a three true outcomes guy (strikeouts, walks, and homers), and Trumbo is more of a “two true outcomes” guy since he doesn’t draw a ton of walks. I point this out because a lot of people are going to be basing Trumbo’s value on his home runs, and not the overall game (a 2-2.5 WAR player the last three years).

Trumbo is arbitration eligible for the first time this year, and MLBTR projects him to make $4.7 M. A quick estimate of his trade value has him worth about $15 M in surplus value over the next three years. That would be a top 26-50 pitcher, or a combination of lesser prospects.

I don’t know if the Pirates are even interested in Trumbo, as I haven’t seen them linked to him. Anyone thinking about a Trumbo trade is going to start by thinking about Jameson Taillon, but Taillon has more value. Honestly I wouldn’t trade much for Trumbo, since the Pirates could get his value on the open market. A James Loney/Gaby Sanchez platoon would provide the same combined value. Loney was a 2.7 WAR player last year, while Sanchez was an 0.8 WAR player as a platoon option. Together they could easily reach the 2.0-2.5 range that Trumbo has been in, and without giving up any prospects.

The flip side is that a Loney/Sanchez platoon wouldn’t provide the power Trumbo provides. Not that this makes Trumbo more valuable than Loney/Sanchez, but the power does make Trumbo a slightly better fit for the Pirates. It seems like the Angels would be looking for immediate help, so you’d have to wonder if the Pirates could deal from their major league depth, or their bullpen to try and get Trumbo. That might sound like low value, but keep in mind that I’m looking past the home runs and looking at Trumbo’s true value as an overall player. Basically, if he didn’t come at the cost of Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, or Nick Kingham, I think it would be worth it for the Pirates to deal pitching for Trumbo. Otherwise, they’d be better off going the free agent route.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

    I do not get the Trumbo love for this team at this time.

    I would definitely see about Bourjos though. If his wrist heals completely, he’s a better candidate for leadoff than Marte. Many will point to his 2011-2012 seasons but I’m of the opinion that the April-June 2013 Bourjos is closer to the real thing and what the Bucs could expect. Not a ton of power, but you move Marte down and hope he becomes Vlad Guerrero. Cheaper than Byrd, great defense, controllable and did I mention cheaper than Byrd – so there’s money left for 1b.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

      So then you have Bourjos and Tabata coming off the bench whenever Polanco is ready?

      I’m afraid I’m not following you. The love with Trumbo is that he hits a lot of HRs, whereas the power production from first base over the last few seasons has been just about nil. I don’t think he’d be the savior of the offense, and it would be stupid to give up a serious prospect for him, but he would actually be a reasonable solution at first base. Whereas trading for Bourjos means you’re out a pitcher for a bench player, and you still haven’t solved the first base situation.

      • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

        Huh? You’re making a lot of assumptions about what I posted. My OF in this scenario is Marte, Cutch, Bourjos. Byrd isn’t in there. I wouldn’t get Trumbo for 1b either. I’d be OK with Loney for short term, or Lambo/Sanchez.

        If Bourjos does what I expect him to do out of the leadoff position (similar to his April-June 2013 #s before wrist injury), when Polanco comes up Bucs will have an embarrassment of OF riches. Someone has to go for 2015. And whomever it is is going to fetch a LOT.

        Don’t kid yourself, Bourjos is going to be in demand. Moreso than Trumbo. In fact I’d guess the Cards will go after him hard to replace Jay.

        It’s not that I don’t like Byrd. But moving Pedro to 4 or 5 and dropping Marte down opens up a number of other possibilities for run production. And I think Bucs will need significant $$ for pitching on the assumption AJ retires, Wandy is done and Locke is more a #5/swingman than a reliable starter. That leaves Morton and Cole cause y’all want to trade Liriano for future pieces.

        • stickyweb

          The Cards may go hard after Bourjos to replace Jay and that makes sense, because Jay sucks and maybe Bourjos would be a better CF than their #1 prospect Tavares (I’m not sure about his defense). It doesn’t make as much sense for the Bucs since they already have 2 CFs better than Bourjos, and they’ll have 3 after Polanco is called up.

          If they go with your strategy of trading one of the OF after 2014, it would definitely be Bourjos. So it comes down to what you would get for him then (w/ 2 years arb remaining) vs. what you give up for him now (w/ 3 years arb left). Maybe we win that deal or break even on it, while getting a year’s worth of production from Bourjos. If you’re counting on Bourjos having a big year (and you obviously are), keep in mind that you’re assuming he’ll match the best 3 month period of his career as he comes off a wrist injury. It’s possible, but is it likely? Note – Bourjos’ only full season was worse, OPS wise, than Tabata’s 2013, both at age 24, though he would bring more SBs and better defense than Tabby.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

    Power is not an area of need for the Pirates – they had the 3rd most homers in the NL this year and are one of only a handful of teams that can summon double-digit homers from all 8 positions (given a full season, Mercer will easily get there, since he had 8 in 330+ AB).

    Where the Pirates need to improve is putting balls in play – they also had the 3rd highest K rate in the NL. And that’s before you factor in more AB from Lambo in ’14. Adding Trumbo would make the Bucs’ greatest weakness even weaker.

    I still think James Loney should be the #1 offseason target. An undervalued 1B who makes contact and hits for average, keeps rallies going, is a better defender than just about all of the alternatives (except Morneau), won’t cost any prospects.

    • emjayinTN

      SB: Loney was only being paid $2 mil in 2013 because he was real bad in 2012 for the Dodgers and then the Red Sox. Now, in 2011 he had a year very similar to what he had in 2013 and he was paid $6.375 mil. His 2013 year was his best, therefore, his asking price could be right around that $6 mil number, and he will want a long term contract if he can get anyone interested. That was one of the reasons I prefer to try for Morneau. Probably a little more expensive, but his defense is a lot better, and his offensive track record gives rise to thinking he may do a lot better with familiarity. Trumbo is nice, but a K machine.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Stephen- This is the most spot-on comment I’ve seen in a long time from anyone. Absolutely 100% agree. Our lack of plate discipline as a team is the biggest problem we have, and simply following the existing theme would do more than make us a 1992 Detroit Tigers team. Rob Deer, Cecil Fielder and company don’t make a winner, simply because homeruns are random, homerun hitters are notoriously streaky, and its easy to strike out most power hitters in key situations. We need players who can put the ball in play against anyone when clutch time is there. We need players to offset Pedro and start to change the mindset of this team. I think James Loney is a great fit, not sexy, but exactly what we need. I don’t mind Trumbo for the right cost which would be an upgrade from Jones, but his power will not play as well as a righty anyways, but his strikeouts won’t go down….the biggest plus to Trumbo is that he’d provide excellent protection from Alvarez in the order because of his power, so his addition would make Alvarez better, while I don’t think Loney makes Alvarez better. I wouldn’t be upset with either addition, as long as the price isn’t too high for either.

  • https://www.facebook.com/doug.culbertson Doug Culbertson

    Byrd is the only FA worth looking at. If they can’t sign him, go with Tabata/Lambo till Palonco can be brought up. Can anyone tell me why Lambo isn’t playing 1st base somewhere in winter ball ? He played 19 games there this year.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Lambo starts winter ball in a few weeks.

  • https://profiles.google.com/116899082423235635777 Monsoon Harvard

    You must have a bad memory because it was widely reported that the Pirates inquired to the Angels about the availability of Trumbo back during the day leading up to the trading deadline this season.

    I’d love for them to get Trumbo. I hope they resign Byrd too. Tabata can be a fifth outfielder at best. I have no confidence in Tabata whatsoever. They were lucky they got the surprise semi-production out of him for a couple months this season. Lambo could be a decent bat off the bench, I’d keep him around.

  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    Trumbo is exactly the kind of player the Bucs DON’T need. They play in a pitchers park. They hit a respectable amount of HRs already. Their plate discipline is actually kind of OK, in that they draw a respectible amount of walks. Where they are weak is RISP, and batting average.

    Having Alvarez in the lineup is not a problem. Having two of him is. Loney would be OK to platoon with Sanchez. I’d like to see a high average hitter in either RF or 1B, with the ability to go to the opposite field and hit some doubles.

    I might trade Liriano for Trumbo straight up, but I highly doubt the Angels would consider that. I certainly wouldn’t give up a prospect for an arbitration eligible slugger- those kinds of players always make out well in arbitration and I’d rather have the three years of service time from the prospect.

    Pass.

  • https://profiles.google.com/116899082423235635777 Monsoon Harvard

    I’d offer them some combination of Jeff Locke and a mid to upper level pitching prospect or two. They can have Tabata too if they’ll take him. I certainly wouldn’t give up Glasnow, Kingham or Taillon, but I’d make it worth their while.

    They have a lot of arms now that would be able to help the Angels down the road but will have a hard time cracking the Pirates major league staff in the coming years due to number of prospects we are developing.

    • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

      Why would the Angels want Locke? For Locke to have any success he has to have an exceptional infield. The Angels don’t have anything near that. Locke might make sense for some teams (KC, TX, TB, BAL, MIN, MIA, SD, AZ) so if you’re going to deal him, it’s most likely the bottom feeders among them with a contract they want to unload (e.g. Butler).

  • leadoff

    Trumbo is power, power is harder to find than pitching. The Angels will not give him away, so one or two top prospects are going to have to be included in any trade. Another way to look at this situation is where would the Pirates be if Pedro went down?
    If I were the Pirates and I could sign Byrd and get Trumbo, this lineup would be very dangerous against any pitcher. Pedro and Trumbo in the middle of the Pirates lineup changes the dynamics of managing by both managers. They will change bullpen patterns. Righty/Lefty power is tough to manage against. RISP is a problem with approach, not talent, it has to be taught, the fact the Pirates don’t do it well comes down to coaching. Do they hit the first pitch or do they get themselves into 2 strike holes and have to hit pitches they can’t hit? They can bring someone in that hits well with RISP and he can fail because of the Pirates approach or a guy like Trumbo probably won’t be affected by the Pirates approach.