*Note: this post will be broken up into two parts. Today we’ll examine the power hitters available to the Diamondbacks in depth and check back later this week to see why the “need” to acquire one of the players below is overstated.
Here we are again, discussing Kevin Towers’ rumblings and what it means for the Diamondbacks. Last week we examined what constitutes an “ace” and whom Arizona might be able to afford. Now it’s on the second half of Towers’ wish list: a power-hitting corner outfielder.
The two names floated here last month were Mark Trumbo and Yoenis Cespedes. So imagine the lack of surprise when those names came up again regarding the Diamondbacks in potential trade scenarios. Apparently, the Diamondbacks are still in pursuit of Trumbo despite reports that the Angels aren’t exactly dying to move him, while earlier this week we learned that a potential trade of Tyler Skaggs and AJ Pollock nearly netted the Diamondbacks Yoenis Cespedes. Although the deal fell through, we’d be hard pressed to call the situation “dead” as there’s still plenty of time for the teams to find common ground if they’re so inclined. The same goes for the negotiations with the Angels; if they want to work something out, they very well still may.
Before sharing thoughts on an a potential acquisition of this variety, let’s take a closer look at just what the Diamondbacks are trying to get their hands on.
*Click table to enlarge
Years of team control: three
2014 salary: $4.7M (projected)
Profile: Trumbo has enormous raw power. Make no mistake, it’s elite and in the top tier within baseball today. You can see for yourself when he crushes this pitch 475 feet. And make a note that his occurs in an actually baseball game; this isn’t some BP grandstanding. If you’re jaw doesn’t drop at the perfection of that dinger, there just may in fact be something wrong with you.
But Mark Trumbo has his warts, as do all players. As Mike Petriello pointed out over at RotoGraphs this fall, Mark Trumbo is who he is: a low-average, low-walk, high-strikeout player who doesn’t run the bases well and plays relatively poor outfield defense. So basically, if his power wasn’t nearly an eight, he would be in AAA. But his power is nearly an eight and that’s what the Diamondbacks want to buy from him. Both Steamer and Oliver projection systems see him hitting nearly 30 doubles and over 30 home runs in 2014. That’s power production, but it comes at a cost (low-OBP, clogging the bases, poor defense, etc.). He’s arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and he’s likely to see somewhere in the neighborhood of $22-28M over the next three years. After that, he’ll be a 31-year old free agent who doesn’t appear to be someone who will age gracefully.
*Click table to enlarge
Years of team control: two
2014 salary: $10.5M
Profile: Cespedes burt onto the scene once he made his stateside debut in 2012. After defecting from Cuba, he wasted no time in putting together a solid season for the A’s. As a rookie trying to figure out American baseball, he put up nearly 3 WAR, mostly due to his 137 wRC+. 2013 was a different story, though.
A nagging shoulder injury effected Cespedes’ season and he never seemed to revert to the player we saw in 2012. He walked less, struck out more, stole fewer bases and hit for less power. His average dropped over 50 points and while some of that is BABIP, some of it was his tendency to hit more fly balls and fewer line drives. The most comprehensive profile you’ll ever find on Cespedes was completed by Jason Parks and is definitely worth your time to read. Essentially, Parks concludes that Cespedes is a see-ball, hit-ball hitter who reacts to pitches rather than going into at-bats with a plan of attack. This might mean that his 2013 season was merely a reflection of the league’s pitchers catching up to his tendencies. He’s essentially a gamble at this point but one that isn’t overpriced as he makes on $10.5M each of the next two years and should exceed that value in production provided he stays relatively healthy.
So these are apparently the two “power bats” that the Diamondbacks are after via trade. Maybe there are others, but these are the guys we know of and expected Arizona to target. In Trumbo, you have elite power at the price of several other attributes, including outfield defense. Cespedes is a better defender but has less power and is more of a wild card going forward. Trumbo will cost around $25 million over the next three years while Cespedes will cost $21 million over the next two. If it sounds like I’m less than thrilled with either of these options, it’s because I am.
Check back for the second half of this post later this week. We’ll address a number of issues, including the current outfield roster, the actual value of power hitters versus the perceived value and whether or not adding one of these players will actually improve the team.
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