Trading for Mark Trumbo

 

Mark Trumbo in 2013 hit 34 homeruns, Adam LaRoche 20. Tell this to a casual baseball fan and the news that Mark Trumbo is now on the trading block would excite them and have them thinking that the Nationals could have their first baseman of the future for the price of Ross Detwiler or Taylor Jordan, but that isn't the case. Adam LaRoche in a disappointing season had a wOBA of .321 and Mark Trumbo .322. How can they be so close when Trumbo hit 14 more homeruns than Adam LaRoche? That answer is quite simple: Mark Trumbo lacks plate discipline. His 2013 OBP was .294. His career OBP is .299. That isn't major league quality, let alone for a position like first base.

This doesn't mean that Mark Trumbo wouldn't have value to the Nationals, but it does mean that he isn't a replacement for Adam LaRoche or the long term solution for the Nationals. What Trumbo could be for the Nationals is a better version of Tyler Moore. While Trumbo can't replace LaRoche the presence of Scott Hairston as a right handed bench bat shouldn't stop the Nationals from adding Trumbo. Having Trumbo on the Nationals would give them some flexibility at first and in the outfield. Span, Harper, and LaRoche all struggled against left handed pitchers in 2013 and Trumbo can play both first and the outfield. Trumbo also has a career .262/.304/.513 batting line against left handed pitching while LaRoche is a career .244/.300/.430 hitter against left handed pitching. Trumbo provides about the same OBP but much more power against left handers than LaRoche and that is what the Nationals would be looking for in a platoon situation.    

Describing Trumbo's role on the Nationals took me a lot less time to describe than I thought so now let's discuss what the Angels would want for him. Pitching. That is what the Angels want and it is what they need. Before I mentioned Ross Detwiler or Taylor Jordan. That is what I would give up for Tumbo, but I view him as a platoon partner for LaRoche and a right handed bat off the bench. It is here where we should also point out that the Nationals don't need Trumbo. They have Hairston as their right handed bench bat and Hairston is a career .268/.317/.498 batter against left handed pitching. Trumbo has slightly more power but at the tradeoff of OBP. In essence Hairston and Trumbo are too similar against left handed pitching as hitters to make a trade worthwhile that way, but Trumbo can play first base and both corner outfield spots, or he has tried before in his career. Mark Trumbo is essentially a younger Michael Morse. He'll hit for power, won't get on base much, and cause many a face palm when in the field.   

The big question is how do the Angels view Trumbo and how do other GMs view Trumbo. He is a bench player. His OBP isn't major league starter quality. It is that simple, but there are some teams that don't value OBP and will look at Trumbo as a middle of the order power RBI guy, and those GMs will be willing to offer more than a back of the rotation starter. What the Nationals would have going for them is that they can offer starting pitchers who have already proven themselves in the major leagues. I doubt that the Angels would accept that type of trade because they may view Trumbo as better than a bench player, and a young first baseman who is also a middle of the order bat is worth much more than Detwiler or Jordan, but Trumbo isn't that, and in my opinion the Nationals are better with Detwiler, Jordan, and Hairston than they are with Detwiler or Jordan and Trumbo. 

Mark Trumbo would help the Nationals bench, but not to any more degree than Hairston does. The only benefit the Nationals would gain from having Trumbo over Hairston is a platoon partner for LaRoche, but LaRoche gets on base at nearly the same rate as Trumbo vs. left handed pitching. He has much less power but the power in that one situation isn't worth more than the pitching depth offered by having both Detwiler and Jordan. The Nationals are better off not trading for Mark Trumbo. He is a flawed player, which makes him a good bench player, but the Nationals already have that type of player and Trumbo is neither a big enough upgrade over Hairston as a bench bat or LaRoche against left handed pitching to be worth trading a starting pitcher. Even if it is only a back of the rotation starting pitcher. 

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