The Angels have no payroll room this winter. Thank the Lord, the Angels have no payroll room this winter. This however does not change the fact that the Angels are still in dire need of pitching. With Jason Vargas likely to not be extended a qualifying offer, and both Tommy Hanson and Jerome Williams likely to be non-tendered, Jerry Dipoto will have to rely solely on the trade market if he is to infuse new talent into the Angels pitching staff. Enter, Mark Trumbo.
It is going to be an interesting offseason for the Angels, and news is already making the rounds that Trumbo is among four Angels slated to be available via trade this offseason. Not only that, but the Padres have allegedly already inquired about the now bearded lumbering slugger. The problem with the Padres inquiry is that it includes three minor league pitchers in Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly, each of whom is in a different stage of recovery from Tommy John surgery. And I imagine that the Angels might be a little gun shy when it comes to pitchers coming off of TJS. Thanks a lot, Ryan Madson.
But that begs the question: Is that where Mark Trumbo’s value lies with other teams?
At the July 31st deadline, Trumbo was supposedly almost dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates. They of course backed out when the Angels asked for prized pitching prospect, Jameson Taillon. I don’t blame you, Pittsburgh, I would too.
So that tells us that Trumbo is not worth a top shelf pitching prospect with a front-end of the rotation future. It also tells us that another team thinks he may be only worth prospects who are coming off of TJS. Damnit, baseball, make up your mind.
If I could put my bias aside, I would, but I can’t, so, yeah. That doesn’t mean that I am delusional though. I am completely aware that Trumbo is not worth a top shelf pitcher. He might be worth the next shelf down, but the Angels would have to sweeten the pot with a prospect, and that cupboard is nearly as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s. But a number three or four starter with a big league track record? That sounds about right.
I’m a sucker for lefties, and my eyes wandered to Jeff Locke of the Pirates first. Then my eyes wandered to his Baseball-Reference page. Then I looked at his second half stats. Which, wow.
There is quite a bit to like here. At least, if you avoid the ERA and the W-L total and the 70 hits and the 1.866 WHIP. His SO/9 of 8.2 was better than the 6.0 he had in the first half, and his SO/BB of 1.41 was nearly on par with the 1.55 SO/BB he posted in the first half. He just got violated by a .374 BAbip against after limiting hitters to a .231 BAbip in the first half. The laws of average giveth, and the laws of average taketh away.
But even if you are not high on the idea of Jeff Locke, it may be wise to warm up to the idea that this may be the best case scenario for what the Angels can get in return for Trumbo. A solid pitcher who is under team control but only has the upside of being a mid to back-end of the rotation starter. It’s not a sexy option, but it isn’t a terrible option either. Basically, it is a “meh” option.
All of this of course hinges on whether or not the Angels can trust that Albert Pujols is going to come back fully healthy from the torn plantar fascia he suffered last year. The tear allowed him to avoid surgery, but it didn’t allow him to avoid recovery time. If the Angels make the move to trade Trumbo for pitching, and Pujols is not able to be ready for baseball come Spring Training, it is going to make any move involving Trumbo look extremely short sighted, and it will put a larger burden on a pitching staff that can’t afford to be burdened any more than it was in 2013.