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Would Mark Trumbo Be a Worthwhile Get This Winter? 

As the World Series nears its conclusion the postseason is set to officially begin around MLB. Cue up the free agent and trade rumors. For us Friars fans we won’t be intently watching the free agent ticker as the team is likely to avoid entering that particular foray of player acquisition. Instead the Padres will focus on re-signing their own arbitration-eligible players and gauge the trade market looking for roster upgrades. According to the MLBTraderumors website one tweet from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times indicates the Padres might be interested in power hitting OF-1B Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Angels are said to be pursuing young, team-controlled, major league ready pitching to immediately plug into their starting rotation. Shaikin also notes that the Padres, with several of their better young pitchers on the mend after Tommy John surgery, may not be the best fit. But, with the premium placed on young, team-controlled, major league ready pitching around baseball the Angels may not find many suitors for Trumbo, who is a big time source of power but comes with plenty of flaws. As such the Angels may not find a perfect match and the Friars might be able to make a deal for Trumbo if that is indeed their inclination.

Trumbo is best suited for 1B but has played the OF. However with Carlos Quentin, himself also a RH slugging OF with defensive issues, under contract for two more years, a Trumbo acquisition could result in incumbent 1B Yonder Alonso being dealt to clear the position. This only makes sense if Trumbo represents an upgrade at 1B over Alonso. Let’s look at some of their career numbers and also their respective Steamer projections for 2014 to get an idea of who is the better player.

Career

Player

PA

BA

OBP

Slugging

wRC+

WAR/600

Trumbo

1,853

.250

.299

.469

111

2.1

Alonso

1,121

.271

.339

.397

108

1.3

  

Steamer 2014 Projections

Player

PA

BA

OBP

Slugging

wRC+

WAR

Trumbo

605

.249

.306

.472

115

2.5

Alonso

106

.279

.346

.397

108

0.2

Evidently Trumbo’s higher slugging percentage offsets his lower OBP enough that Fan Graphs has him at 0.8 WAR/600 better than Alonso to this point in their respective careers. Curiously, Steamer apparently sees 2014 as an injury-plagued campaign for Alonso as they project just 106 PA for the Friars 1B. To make it a more apples-to-apples comparison if we prorate Alonso’s WAR over 605 PA he would finish at 1.0; still significantly less than Trumbo.

So if we assume that like I just did, the Padres determine that Trumbo represents a slight upgrade overall and a significant one in the power department at 1B and elect to pursue a trade with the Angels, a prospective lineup might look like this:

SS Everth Cabrera

RF Will Venable/Chris Denorfia

LF Carlos Quentin

3B Chase Headley

1B Mark Trumbo

2B Jedd Gyorko

C Yasmani Grandal

CF Cameron Maybin

That has the potential to be a decent offense but I see two issues with this alignment. First, the Friars would be RH heavy with just Cabrera, Headly, Venable and Grandal able to hit from the left side. That’s not a bad thing necessarily given the caliber of LH starters in the NL West but issue #2 could be a big problem.

This lineup would also be extremely susceptible to striking out. Here’s that same alignment with each player’s career punch out rate.

Cabrera – 20.6%

Venable/Denorfia – 23.7%/15.7%

Quentin – 15.6%

Headley – 22.6%

Trumbo – 25.1%

Gyorko – 23.4%

Grandal – 17.1%

Maybin – 23.2%

For what it’s worth, Alonso’s career strikeout rate is just 16%. The difference between Trumbo and Alonso over 600 PA would be about 54 more non-productive outs. It’s debatable just how much those extra non-productive outs would hurt a team’s offense but intuitively there must be some sort of loss.

With the potential to have Cabrera (.355 OBP), Venable/Denorfia (.325 combined OBP) and Headley (.350 OBP) hit in front of Trumbo, the slugger would potentially have plenty of runners on base to drive in. His power would then result in more runs for the Padres than having Alonso in the same spot.

If the Friars do add Trumbo via trade the question then becomes what to do with Alonso. The simple answer would be another trade but what kind of market would there be for a player of his skill set. One team that immediately pops out would be Tampa Bay, a club that is always looking for affordable offense. Alonso has one more pre-arbitration season and could benefit (like so many others) from leaving Petco Park, both factors which could appeal to Tampa.

For their part the Rays have a plethora of pitching prospects. Perhaps San Diego could swing a trade for Trumbo using a young starting pitcher as bait then flip Alonso to Tampa for a hurler prospect.

You might be asking why Tampa wouldn’t just engage the Angels in talks for Trumbo if they need a 1B and have plenty of pitching to offer. Well, since Trumbo is eligible for arbitration and is projected to earn roughly $4.7MM according to Matt Swatrz’s arbitration model on MLBTraderumors.com and Alonso is a year away from arbitration the Rays could value the more affordable option. I’d also hazard a guess and say Trumbo, due primarily to his power numbers, would cost more in terms of a return trade package than Alonso.

Trumbo could be a good get for the Padres depending on the price. He does offer rare RH power and isn’t a stiff defensively at first base. He has his weaknesses but then so does their current 1B option. If the Friars desire an upgrade in the power department they could do worse than Trumbo.

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About the author: Glen Miller

Life-long baseball and Padres fan who attended his first Friar games way back in 1983. I've been a contributor on Friarhood for more than two years and enjoy talking baseball with the knowledgeable fans that frequent the site. Prior to my beginning here I owned and operated my own San Diego sports site while writing for several other sites focusing specifically on hockey. When not watching, reading or writing about sports I might be sleeping or perhaps spending time with my family since I have few other hobbies. I did recently try my hand at golf and am a pretty good pool player to boot.