With the non-waiver trade deadline only a week away, and the Angels continuing to perfect their “two steps forward, two steps back” routine, the time has come for Jerry Dipoto to very seriously considering hitting the “sell” button on the 2013 season. He has the players for it. Scott Downs is one of them. Jason Vargas would be another if he hadn’t been sidelined by a blood clot, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be revisited by the trade market in time for the waiver deadline in August. But these are players in the final year of their contract or final year under team control. They would be rentals, and since they aren’t in the upper echelon of talent available on this year’s market.
The Angels do have other trade chips. C.J. Cron has generated interest from some executives, and is blocked by both his own defensive abilities and by players on the Major League roster. Alberto Callaspo has another year left on his contract, but Luis Jimenez is not an everyday third-baseman in my mind, and Kaleb Cowart isn’t ready. Not to mention, Callaspo is not your prototypical third-sacker. Which brings me to the title of this post’s namesake – Mark Trumbo.
Wait, what? Mark Trumbo? You can’t be serious? But oh ho ho, I am serious. Just chill out, sit back, have a wine cooler and hear me out. Then, feel free to flame me later. I’m a big boy, I can fight back.
There are many reasons to keep Mark Trumbo around for the foreseeable future. Hell, there are good reasons for extending Trumbo past the foreseeable future. Reasons that I have argued for in the past. Reasons that I will probably argue for tomorrow. But after watching a 10th inning meltdown that saw the Minnesota Twins of all teams drop seven runs on the Halos, this is where I am at today. It’s not a fun place, I can tell you that. They discontinued the mustard-flavored roast beef last week. We the members of this community are considering a revolt. But I digress.
The thing about the reasons to extend Trumbo is, each of those reasons also can be flipped to make a solid argument for trading the big man. So, instead of just going on and on like I am currently doing about trading Trumbo, I’m going to list the reasons for extending him, and flip them on their head. Please, I ask that you let me finish. Everyone will get their turn to talk and throw rotting tomatoes.
Last year, Trumbo had a wOBA of .347, a wRC+ of 123 and an ISO of .222. Per Fangraphs, the wOBA was “above average,” the wRC+ and ISO were “great.” Currently, Mark has a .333 wOBA, a wRC+ of 117 and an ISO of .229. He has become a regular producer in the middle of the Angels lineup. Lock him up, right? Yeah, of course you lock that guy up. Unless of course said guy is forced out of his normal position by a player making another $212MM over the next eight years.
Trumbo can’t change the fact that Albert Pujols isn’t going anywhere. You can’t change the fact that Albert Pujols isn’t going anywhere. Trumbo works as a DH, and can rotate around with both Pujols and Josh Hamilton, but his value can also be cashed in for a couple of solid prospects, or even a solid pitcher who is still pre-arbitration.
Here’s where I start kicking myself. Below is a snip from Mark Trumbo’s player page at Fangraphs. The bottom four lines of the snip are sets of projections from both ZiPS and Steamers.
The (R) notates that those are projections for the rest of the season. The (U) is for projections that have been updated from what was projected before the season. If you’ll indulge me, zero in on the walk rate. Trumbo’s current walk rate of 8.9% is 2.8 points higher than it was last season. And we were floored last year by his ability to learn plate discipline. This season, he has continued that progression, and both ZiPS and Steamers expect his walk rate to stay above 8%. It’s not too much of a leap to expect that number to creep above 10% next season.
I have been applauding Trumbo for awhile where his ability to take pitches and draw walks is concerned. He’ll never be a 3TO (Three True Outcomes) player, but he is exponentially more dangerous when he is waiting out pitchers instead of utilizing the education he received from the Vladimir Guerrero School of Hitting Pitches That Bounce. And Since I have noticed, I am sure that other GM’s have noticed as well.
This could also be aptly titled, “Straight Cash, Homey,” but I’m not trying to alienate any of the older GM’s in baseball. Mark Trumbo is making $540,000 this season, and has already generated $10.7MM in value. Next year he will go to arbitration for the first time, and is in line for a hefty raise. A raise that he deserves. And this is yet another reason to not give him up to the highest bidder. Or is it?
Cost controlled players are the most valuable commodity in baseball, what with ever increasing free agent contracts and the like. Granted, arbitration changes the kind of control a team has over a player’s salary, but they still aren’t bidding against 29 other teams for said players services. And if moved, Mark’s new team would have ample time to lock him up to their own extension, by-passing the possible mess that is arbitration, and enjoying years of production from what has turned into a proven slugger.
This one is more personal. Mark is not only a “fan favorite,” he’s the local kid that made good. He grew up an Angels fan. He Went to Villa Park High School. His favorite player growing up was Tim Salmon. My favorite player growing up was Tim Salmon. I want Mark to stay in Halo Red forever. But I’m an Angels fan first, and the name on the front is more important than the one on the back. And if moving Mark makes this team better, then so be it. I’m not above rooting for a player who is not an Angel (see Medlen, Kris).
The Angels have another similarly young, similarly inexpensive player in Peter Bourjos, and it is no secret how much interest Bourjos generated in the trade market over the last season and a half. But, aside from being a historically defensive center fielder, having Bourjos in center is good for not only the Angels, but Mike Trout as well. Trout gets to avoid the wear and tear of center field, and we get to see Mike Trout be Mike Trout. And I’m not going to write a “Is it Time to Trade Mike Trout?” post anytime soon.
The focus for most is on the players on the team who’s contracts are expiring. That’s not the wrong focus. There stands a good chance that those players will simply walk at the end of the year, no qualifying offer will be extended, so nothing will be received in return. Trade those players, get value back. That focus however, falls short of where the Angels could make a serious impact on their roster. it’s not a popular idea to trade one of the few young, cost-controlled players on the roster. But, in this instance, it could be the move that most benefits the club as a whole.