Like It Or No, Mark Trumbo Had To Go


Sometimes you’re knee-deep into a post, something called “The Case To Trade Mark Trumbo” let’s say, when your phone buzzes and lets you know that yes, you really should have gone to see Mad Max like you wanted.

Such is life, though, and really I should have known. I had convinced myself that Dave Stewart‘s first major move as the Diamondbacks’ GM might be coming in a few weeks, after the MLB draft dust had settled and the team – not yet out of the playoff race – might be better understood.

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What I hadn’t taken enough into account, apparently, was the true outfield logjam the DBacks have on their hands, one which will be getting worse very soon.

It’s not hard to see the motivations of this deal – the Diamondbacks and Mariners agreed on a 6-player, Trumbo-sized trade this evening, if you hadn’t heard – for both sides. Who ultimately wins it is a different story (and a whole other blog post), but on its face, seems fair. Trumbo is its biggest fish, to be sure, but as I will soon get into, no longer fits in the desert.

For that reason, and a few others, this trade just might help the DBacks this season, and definitely should in those to come.

Was Trumbo the DBacks’ Worst OF?

Don’t be fooled by the team’s sub-.500 record; Arizona has a wealth of quality hitters. The up-and-coming DBacks have actually produced more runs than any other team in the National League through 51 games.

Those numbers are largely due to the all-world, super-clonable play of Paul Goldschmidt, but the club’s outfielders have also been major contributors.

A.J. Pollock has emerged as a bona fide All-Star candidate, sporting a .318 average with 7 home runs and 13 steals and a WAR better than every NL outfielder outside of Bryce Harper.

Don’t forget about Ender Inciarte, who has set the table admirably, striking out just once per every 8.44 ABs, and David Peralta, who has accrued more RBIs than Trumbo this season despite 49 less plate appearances.

Mark Trumbo has surpassed 120 strikeouts three times in his career, and was on pace to once again with the Diamondbacks in 2015. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Trumbo, in fairness, has nine home runs on the year, second on the team. More power could certainly be on the horizon, too, when you consider the 6’4, 235-pounder had successive 29-, 32- and 34-homer seasons for the Angels from 2011-2013.

But therein lies the problem, because if Trumbo fails to reach similar numbers, his flaws – wincingly poor defense and arguably worse plate discipline – will far outweigh his skill set.

Add in his age, 29 on a team of young talent, and his salary, and you have the makings of a very tradable player.

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Wrinkles Aren’t Always Bad, But They’re Always Wrinkles

One of the biggest reasons the DBacks’ front office moved Trumbo when it did, one would assume, is the much-anticipated return of Jake Lamb.

Lamb was bursting right onto the scene before injuring his foot April 18, and has been on the DL ever since. The young slugger took a significant step forward Wednesday in his first minor-league rehab game, however, going 2-4 with a double.

He’ll be back up with the big-league squad soon, and when he is, it’s presumed that 3b will be his to man. That means Yasmany Tomas, he of the $68.5M contract, will need a place to play. Trading Trumbo relieves a bit of pressure there, allowing the natural outfielder to squeeze his way into the hole left by No. 44.

There is one other bit of business. After only 11 games behind the plate this season, top prospect Peter O’Brien will reportedly transition to the outfield full-time, according to multiple reports.

I suppose the Diamondbacks will address that bridge when they come to it, but the 24-year-old O’Brien is making a serious case already, hitting .339 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs this season.

As For the Rest of the Trade

For all the criticism Trumbo received during his time in Arizona, Stewart and Tony La Russa weren’t looking to dump one of the team’s strongest hitters for nothing. Stewart even called Trumbo “one of [his] favorite players” after the deal was announced.

But Trumbo has always fit better in the American League, and, as Stewart told reporters, the M’s had pursued him several times. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to make the trade, but it’s hard to fault the logic.

Other trade notables:

  • So I haven’t mentioned Welington Castillo yet, very likely the DBacks’ new starting catcher. My apologies. As I wrote last week, Snakes catchers have had a real problem framing pitches, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the worst in the bigs last season, according to Baseball Prospectus. Unfortunately, Castillo was the fourth-worst. Smh.
  • I alluded to it above, but the defense really should improve with this deal. Castillo may not be a good pitch framer, but he has a better arm and is less prone to errors than Saltalamacchia. Lamb presumably slotting into 3b will do wonders for Arizona’s defense just by shifting Tomas (already with six errors) off the hot corner. And as stated before, Trumbo’s no outfielder. Here’s hoping Tomas is.
  • Vidal Nuno has been red-hot in limited work this season after what has amounted to a so-so career, and Dominic Leone has been ice-cold after a terrific rookie campaign in the pen for Seattle. Ultimately, Leone has better stuff and is the more desirable reliever long-term, but you never totally know with RPs.
  • Wait, we got Vladimir Guerrero’s nephew? Actually yes, and as it turns out he’s a quality prospect. Rated the Mariners’ No. 8 prospect by Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel in March, Gabby Guerrero is a chip off the old block. Like Uncle Vlad though, the 20-year-old outfielder swings at everything. H/t to McDaniel for finding this video:
  • Scouts seem to like the other M’s prospect involved in the deal as well. While he doesn’t hold the same name recognition, 22-year-old Jack Reinheimer continues to impress. No power to speak of, but the shortstop isn’t shy on the base paths and can probably fill in at multiple positions at the major league level.