Last week we introduced the Inside the ‘Zona 2014-2015 Offseason Plan. If you haven’t read the post, I strongly recommend it. There are number of key moves that we laid out for the Diamondbacks to set themselves up for the future, when they’re most likely to get back to contention. Among them were several impactful trades, including moving Aaron Hill, Miguel Montero and Trevor Cahill. Those were pretty obvious moves and I seriously doubt anyone is going to be upset if any or all of those guys are playing for different teams next season. But one move we didn’t put in the offseason plan was trading a piece that just doesn’t fit on this team: Mark Trumbo.

The Offseason Plan isn’t a fantasy exercise. Instead, it’s rooted in the reality, which is sometimes painful and surely more difficult to complete. Trading Mark Trumbo definitely came up in discussions when we were compiling the plan, but didn’t make the cut as it just doesn’t seem even remotely likely. But if it were to be an option, I have a few reasons in mind as to why it should.

The biggest reason to deal Mark Trumbo is that he’s a poor fit for this baseball team. With arguably baseball’s best first baseman firmly entrenched and not going anywhere, Trumbo has to find another spot on the field to occupy. His best defensive fit is at first and while he’s not exactly an asset there, he’s best-suited for it. Instead, he’s been pushed to the outfield where his range is poor and he gets consistently average-or-worse reads on fly balls. He can make most of the routine plays, but in an admittedly small sample, he was poor as soon as the difficulty of the play increased beyond the easiest category, according Inside Edge Fielding data.

Of course, all of that data came from him playing in left field last year. In 2015, he’s expected to play right field. Considering that right field grades out as a more demanding defensive position than left, this position swap doesn’t appear to be a move made for the better, despite the fact that GM Dave Stewart thinks it’ll help his comfort and confidence. Will playing worse defense in right help him at the plate? I strongly doubt it. If he improves at the plate, it will be due to better plate discipline and increased quality contact, not his defensive positioning. Either way, he’s going to be playing a lot of right field next season, something that will hurt an already middle-of-the-road pitching staff. There’s simply no value added to having Trumbo in the outfield, anywhere you put him. It’s a bad fit all the way around and there’s nowhere else to play him. Essentially, he doesn’t fit.

Placing him in the outfield also takes opportunities away from younger players David Peralta and, more notably, Ender Inciarte. These two are slated to split time in left field with Trumbo occupying right, and I’d bet that it’s Peralta who gets more consistent starts, forcing Inciarte to the bench most of the time. We already know that Inciarte’s a defensive wizard with an improving offensive game while Peralta can really swing it and play adequate defense in left and right field. Both players are cheap, team controlled for the next five years, and in need of opportunities to prove themselves as part of the Diamondbacks’ long term plans. Instead of getting maximum opportunities to develop, they’ll split time as they share left field.

The Diamondbacks aren’t going to contend in 2015. Hell, they’ll be lucky to be contenders in 2016, if you ask me. Mark Trumbo will be passing through arbitration for a third time in 2016, likely netting a salary in the $7-9 million range, depending on his 2015 performance. Come 2017, he’ll be a free agent and will be unlikely to be retained pending the disappearance of Paul Goldschmidt. If you’re following my line of thinking, this should be the point in time when the Diamondbacks start to really mature with several of their current top prospects becoming established major leaguers and the organization has some improved financial flexibility. So just when the D-backs are ready to contend, Trumbo won’t be around, which makes you wonder why he’s around in the first place. There are a number of competitive teams who could use first base help (Pirates and Brewers) and a handful who could use a DH (Royals, Mariners and Rangers).

So why sink money and playing time into someone who won’t be part of your future? He’s going to hurt you defensively for sure and his offense is rather questionable. Arizona loses opportunities to maximize platoons and develop cheaper, younger assets by playing him in right.  And to cap it all off, he won’t even be around when the team is ready to really challenge for the NL West crown. The Diamondbacks have a bunch of reasons to deal Trumbo, but they won’t.

Trading Mark Trumbo won’t happen and it’s why we didn’t put it in the Offseason Plan. Sure, there are a myriad of reasons to make a deal, including the fact that there are teams out there that could reasonably benefit from acquiring him by minimizing the negative implications of his defense while still collecting the power from his bat (sadly, the D-backs aren’t one of those teams). If he were dealt to one of these teams, I think Arizona could expect a B-level prospect in return, which might take the sting out of losing Justin Williams and Andrew Velazquez in the Hellickson trade a little over a week ago. One B-level prospect in return wouldn’t signal any kind of major change for the organization, but opening up room to develop younger, more valuable players surely would. But we can keep dreaming, because it’s not going to happen. #DINGERZ

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17 Responses to Trading Trumbo Should, Won’t Happen

  1. Cole Joseph says:

    Let me start by saying that none of the following is wishful thinking on my part, just uninformed observing.
    I’m getting a weird vibe from this team. You and I agree on trading Trumbo, that’s certain. I’m wondering if it might be more possible than was originally thought. This quip that came out today about the Dbacks having ‘legit interest’ in Tomas got me thinking:
    A) What if they really do think they can add Tomas and they plan to package Trumbo and another bad contract to make roster and payroll space?
    B) They haven’t actually done anything to support this but I’m getting the feeling the team is using the lower payroll goal as a smokescreen. After all the team did say they wouldn’t be patient about how long it takes to be a contending team again.
    Again I’m probably wrong about all of this, and I’m not sure whether I’d even want it to happen. I have a bad feeling about Tomas no matter which team he ends up on. He’s less athletic than Puig and yet not as experienced/level headed as Abreu seems.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      I think the rumors bring up an interesting point: some of them are PR, some of them are legit and others are posturing in relation to other GMs. Separating those things out is difficult and we only have a few clues. The roster and payroll are the most helpful clues, but perhaps the organization is willing to bet a year early on its impending television deal.

      We saw the Tomas thing last year with Tanaka. Yes, the D-backs were interested, but they weren’t going to be able to pay the dough needed to get him. Instead, the team just kind of “hung around” to see where the actual price would end up and responded accordingly. That’s the most likely scenario here, I think.

      Should something get done, yes, it’s Trumbo that has to move. Still, I’m not betting even the smallest of margins on any of this, but there appears to be some kind of obscure chance. This is why the winter is so fun!

  2. Seamhead says:

    When the Diamondbacks acquired Trumbo, I recall reading something to the effect of, “The Diamondbacks have historically cared more about how their runs are created than how many runs are created.” This has stuck with me and has really been proven true, especially when it comes to power hitters. The team has dabbled with numerous sluggers only to show them the door when their patience runs thin with streakiness and strikeouts: Richie Sexson, Adam Dunn, Troy Glaus, Justin Upton, etc. I think that the Royals and Giants showed how successful a balanced lineup can be.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      I’d say that sounds pretty accurate from everything we’ve seen. We’ve long discussed the organization’s penchant for buying player “types” rather than actual production. The narratives that they’ve chased have often been counter productive. In reality, suggesting that someone is a “slugger” or a “proven closer” is less important than evaluating their actual game. Often times, there’s a disconnect and this is how Arizona has made a couple of bad deals that are hindering them right now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    well, he’s not a national league player. that said, i think he’s close to breaking out next year. He’s improved his approach at the plate, has natural power, and appears to be a student of the game. It wouldn’t shock me if he went 40/40 next year. 40 miscues and 40 homers. Now he’s probably not as bad as adam dunn in the field, ah he’s a dh…but it wouldn’t surprise if he went .250, .330, 500. a whole year at chase

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why not look to trade him to an American League team like Seattle or Baltimore? He doesn’t have a bad contract, is still relatively young, and has huge power. Trumbo should be able to fetch a mid to high level prospect from some team, as power is a premium right now and there really isn’t any other “big” hitters on the market other than Nelson Cruz.

    • Ben says:

      Well he doesn’t have a contract at all right now as the FO has yet to offer Trumbo one. That being said, his expected offer through arb is probably just ok considering the player he is, big power and that’s it. It’s been established that he is not a fit for the DBacks and what GM Dave Stewart is planning for him would be quite detrimental to the team. However, I do very much agree with the idea of trading Trumbo to the M’s.

      The M’s have a need at first, a need for power and a need for a right handed bat in a predominantly left handed line up. He could easily be platooned there with Logan Morrison and start more at DH if they consider him a liability at 1B.

      With the reports out now that the DBacks have agreed to a contract with Yasmani Tomas, he seems expendable. I personally would be neither happy or sad to see him leave. If he were to stay in a DBacks uni in 2015 then that would probably mean that Cody Ross could be moved or worse, Peralta or Inciarte.

  5. Truxton says:

    Pollock, Peralta, Tomas, and Inciarte are a good outfield if Tomas pans out. If he bombs and management adjusts quick enough the remaining 3 guys are still a good outfield, albeit weak in power. Regarding Ross, Hill, Montero, Cahill, Trumbo and much of last year’s “non-pitching” pitching staff trade them ASAP. Free up salary to buy and to promote “too young” and “too inexperienced” pitchers. On the job training at the big league level may be a hard way to go but it is the fastest way to find talent. Being conservative and buying experience with used up arms failed. Paying huge dollars for a single star goes only so far and does not win pennants. Try a new approach based on scouting’s player assessments and coaching’s ability to train and to teach. The only caveat to this method is to limit negative inning experiences, i.e. do not let games get out of hand in one inning, and support large pitcher turnover by having lots of minor leaguers vetted and ready to go when flameouts occur. Mediocrity is for cowards and being the worst is never acceptable, but here we are. Risk assumption properly managed is a winning strategy. Just do it.

  6. Kevin says:

    I’m going to copy and post a previous comment, because you guys keep copying and posting the argument for trading Trumbo when his value is next to nothing…

    I think one of the major short-comings in the D’Backs front office over the last few years has been over-emphasizing the downturn of players on injury years. The did this with Upton (trading him coming off an injury season), they did this with Carlos Quentin (getting a bag of balls for him because he couldn’t hit with only one functioning shoulder), and I’m sure I could find more examples as well. This has bitten us in the butt every time we’ve done it. I appreciate the SABR analysis, but I think the anti-Trumbo rhetoric could be toned down a bit until he actually has a healthy season in the line-up. There is also every reason to believe defense can improve with practice and patience (see Goldschmidt, who was considered a butcher when he came up), so assuming there is no possible way for Trumbo to grow as a defender is similarly problematic. I highly doubt the people on this site are the only ones that know Trumbo clearly has room to grow as a defender. He knows it. The front office knows it. And I’m they’re both working to improve it (hence the switch to RF in the first place).

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      A healthy Mark Trumbo is no better fit than the one we saw last season. Also, we (you and I) don’t know to what extent he last limited last year. You’re presuming that he’s way better than he showed last season. Check his 2013 stats, his peripherals were all similar (with the exception of power, which was a little better). If you want to bet that all of the power drop was due to his foot, then go right on ahead. I think that’s being generous, however.

  7. […] That leaves us with only a couple of places to add left handed hitters: second base, catcher and maybe an impact corner outfielder. On the second base market, there aren’t a lot of candidates given the nature of the position. The team just traded the best available left-handed hitting catcher in Miguel Montero. In the outfield, they’ve stated that they’d like to keep Mark Trumbo although there have been rumors of other teams targeting him and the D-backs engaging in those talks (as I firmly believe they should). […]

  8. […] involves bringing a bunch of other stuff that just isn’t as helpful — that’s why trading him has been a good idea for a while […]

  9. […] think it was warranted. This came out of nowhere, in a way. Sure, the writing was on the wall that Trumbo didn’t fit this team, which was obvious from the day that Kevin Towers pulled the trigger on him. But it was also […]

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