clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The new Mark Trumbo-shaped landscape for the Diamondbacks

What does the acquisition of Mark Trumbo mean for the Diamondbacks in 2014?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The line-up

Even though Trumbo has been a first-baseman for the vast majority of his professional baseball career, there seems to be little or no chance he'll displace Paul Goldschmidt on a regular basis. There may be an occasional spot-start there, just to give Goldzilla a breather, but you can bank on Trumbo playing left-field. GM Kevin Towers doesn't appear to have any qualms, saying "There's no doubt in our mind he'll be a solid average defender." The metrics agree with him, as long as you look only at LF, though in general his outfield UZR/150 has become each negative each season. Not sure I'd use "solid" or "average", I'd settle for "adequate" or "not Kubel".

I would imagine the everyday line-up for the Diamondbacks now looks something like this:

  1. Gerardo Parra, RF, LHB
  2. Aaron Hill, 2B, RHB
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, RHB
  4. Mark Trumbo, LF, RHB
  5. Miguel Montero, C, LHB
  6. Martin Prado, 3B, RHB
  7. A.J. Pollock, CF, RHB
  8. Didi Gregorius, SS, LHB

You'll note I've penciled Gregorius in at short rather than Owings. I think the trade of left-handed Eaton for right-handed Trumbo has probably improved Didi's chances of being kept. Otherwise, this is a line-up which is extremely right-heavy: only Parra and Montero are southpaws, and only the latter is anything of a significant power-threat. Alternatively, the move may also increase the impetus to add a left-handed bat to the line up, such as Eric Chavez. We're still waiting on that, and the word is, there are seven teams interested in him. Still, there were 12 supposedly interested in Trumbo.

In case you're wondering about Cody Ross, I would not expect to see him back by Opening Day. While we are still some way off any kind of recovery timetable, there was an update today from Kevin Towers, which appears to confirm that prognosis:

But what about the K's?

Some might draw an apparent contradiction between the generally-perceived Kevin Towers philosophy of "strikeouts are bad" which has driven many of his trades since becoming GM in September 2010, and the arrival of Mark Trumbo. After all, only one Diamondback - and I'm sure I needn't specify who - has ever struck out more often than the 184 times Trumbo whiffed last year. However, speaking on his arrival, Towers' stated approach was actually somewhat different:

"With power comes strikeouts; they usually go hand-in-hand. You're going to have a couple of guys in your lineup that have high strikeouts and hopefully the homers come with them... Personally, I like contact hitters. I like guys that have good pitch recognition. Strikeouts are part of the game, but if you have four or five or six guys in your lineup, it's hard to sustain any sort of rally."

Towers inherited a team which delivered a league-worst 24.7% K-rate in 2010 (and it wasn't close), and since then, the Diamondbacks have been ranked 4th, 7th and 13th, dipping to a low of 18.0% this year. The trade for Trumbo suggests Towers may think the pendulum has swung too far the other way, and there's now a need to take the foot off the metaphorical brake.

Next move: starting pitcher

It does look like the team intends to make full use of the money coming their way from the new national television contracts. When I speculated, less than two weeks ago, that the team could have salaries in excess of $110 million, it seemed a bit of a stretch, even to me. But we now have this:

If my math is right, and Trumbo's arbitration or negotiated salary ends up being about in line with the MLBTR estimate, the trade increases our payroll commitment to about $96 million, including $4 million currently set aside to sign replacements for Chavez and Wil Nieves. That would leave us with somewhere around $15 million to sign a free-agent starter, which is right in the ballpark of someone like Matt Garza, as Nick Piecoro Tweeted today, or could let us make an offer to Masahiro Tanaka. Alternatively, we still have the apparent overstock on the middle-infield, which could be used as trade material to acquire a pitcher.

It does seem a little curious, given the rotation currently sits as Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, and either Randall Delgado or Archie Bradley, depending mostly on whether the latter is deemed major-league ready. Adding another established starter would seem to shut the door on Bradley being able to compete for a spot out of spring training, though as we've said many times before, it's most unlikely any team will get through their season with only the five starters. Which kinda brings us back full circle - it's a shame we dealt away that young pitching depth for a questionable outfield upgrade. We'll see where the team goes from here.