Anyone that was on Twitter yesterday could see pretty clearly that the move that sent two of our top prospects packing and brought in Mark Trumbo did not please much of the fan base. I am one of them.
Mark Trumbo will be swinging for the fences at Chase Field. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
My initial reaction to these rumors was that this was a bad deal for the Diamondbacks. What would Mark Trumbo add to our lineup that would be worth the cost in Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton? Apparently a guy with a career on base percentage under .300 (.299), somewhere around 150 strikeouts a year and a .250 average. Mark Reynolds anyone?
In fairness, Trumbo has also belted 29, 32, and 34 home runs in his first three full seasons in Los Angeles while improving his RBI count each year and peaking at the 100 mark in 2013. He’s also hit 30 or more doubles in two of his three seasons while improving his walk total along the way. There’s no doubt he will bring power, and if that was literally all Towers was after, then we’ve succeeded. Putting Trumbo in the four hole just behind Goldschmidt could be a dynamic 1-2 punch and really open up our lineup even more as the guys around Goldie and Trumbo will likely be seeing better pitches as well (see: Miguel Montero revival).
But let’s keep in mind that heading into spring training last year Adam Eaton, the AAA Pacific Coast League MVP just over a year ago, was heralded as our long lost leadoff hitter. He was a spark plug kind of guy that would get on base often and cause headaches for opposing pitchers on the base paths. His defense was just as good and he had already won the starting center field job before straining his elbow just one week prior to breaking camp and Opening Day. So what changes? How do we go from such high expectations and a mainstay in our lineup to being expendable just eight months later? Well, first of all, Kevin Towers is at the helm. That man has proven he will trade anyone at any time; regardless of how he is viewed in the organization or by the fan base. Second of all, apparently as a result of the injury, Towers feels that our outfield will be stronger with A.J. Pollock locking down center, gold glover Gerardo Parra in right and power hitting 1B/OF Trumbo in left. This ironically makes Cody Ross the odd man out just a year after he was acquired from the Red Sox in hopes of boosting power numbers in our outfield. Sorry Ross, you shouldn’t have gotten hurt. You too Eaton.
Tyler Skaggs came in to the 2013 season as our #5 prospect and was battling for the fifth spot in our rotation with Patrick Corbin and Randal Delgado last spring. He showed glimpses of what he could become with a few strong outings but typically followed those up with less impressive ones. His velocity was down this season from the mid-90’s as well which may have contributed to his struggles. Still, Skaggs is now the second top 5 prospect this off season to depart the Diamondbacks system after David Holmberg was shipped to Cincinnati in an effort to dump Heath Bell on anyone that would take him. This, just one year after Towers shipped our number one prospect in Trevor Bauer off to Cleveland in another three team deal.
The thing about dumping Skaggs that I really don’t like is that he is a 22 year old, 6’3” left hander that throws in the mid-90’s. This is really the exact profile that most big league managers and general managers would kill for. Sure he wasn’t as lights out as Corbin was this past season but so what? Not everyone can storm the scene and dominate as Corbin did the first four months of his big league career. While recent reports came out that Skaggs has, in some scouts’ eyes, dropped from a potential 2-3 starter to a 3-4, I’m not as convinced- especially if that report is based on his drop in velocity. I feel the upside in Skaggs- especially considering the D’backs just brought in the highly touted pitching consultant in Dave Duncan and that he was locked up through 2018- was well worth being just a smidge more patient than Towers was.
But we all must keep in mind one other aspect of Towers’ wheeling and dealing mindset: our GM is in the midst of a one year deal along with Kirk Gibson. After winning the N.L. West in 2011 with 94 wins, they’ve failed to finish above 81-81 in each of the last two seasons. If these guys don’t win NOW, they’re gone. So, for Towers to wait on Skaggs to develop in a year or two (if ever) was not what he was willing to do. This team already has many of the pieces at the big league level to compete today. Eaton became expendable with Trumbo and with Pollock posting strong numbers as a rookie and proving he was more than capable of caroming the center field grass on an everyday basis.
It’s another deal for Towers and the Diamondbacks that has the fans scratching their heads but one that we will all have to watch play out over the coming years, just as we will with the Bauer trade from a year ago. Who knows, if Trumbo can be more of a contact hitter without losing his power (less strikeouts please), we may be looking at an exciting offense in 2014. If our new 28 year old left fielder could hit .270 with 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 110 RBI’s would any of us be complaining about this deal come September?
Follow our team on Twitter at @venomstrikes, Mr. Trumbo at @mtrumbo44.