Mike Trout is NOT the primary signing concern for the Angels in the immediate future. On a team loaded with stars, a rookie MVP candidate, and a stacked pitching staff, I’m telling all of you that a part-time first baseman, DH, right fielder, and apprentice third basemen is the most strategic long-term signing priority.
Mike Trout and his potential contract saga are still a year away, which means the Angels can see if he comes down to Earth before backing up the Brinks truck. Many people are worked up over his modest salary increase for 2013, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves by freaking out just yet. Let’s just call his situation what it is… the best value in the MLB that’s taken place in the last few decades. He won’t be better than that this year, so let’s just wait and see. In the meantime, let’s look at why LAA needs to focus on Trumbo.
Mark was dialed in and calm during the first half of 2012. This resulted in huge numbers and made him one of the scariest guys to have to pitch to. However, that all faded in the second half of the season. For that reason, the Angels may be able to lock him up for fairly cheap. Yes, he was an All-Star last year, but I don’t know if everyone expects that from him every year. Fangraphs.com’s projection group basically shows him having similar numbers as last year. Baseballplayersalaries.com shows Mark Trumbo as only .33% of the Angels payroll last year, but as almost 6% of their output. If they pay him 10X his current salary, he still is only 3.2% of the payroll (2012 numbers). This still makes him a great value.
Regardless of the other positions Mark can play, he is a top 4 DH on any day of the week. There are few teams that are going to put a better DH outside of resting a stud. The only full-time designated hitter with more home runs than Mark last year was Edwin Encarnacion, with honorable mentions to Big Papi and Billy B. Last year, the Angels had the luxury of rotating in Kendrys Morales and Trumbo as needed. However, Trumbo will benefit from a more regular schedule with nobody looking over his shoulder… VW fans, please don’t…just don’t.
This is the easy one. He plays 1st base and RF and the Angels have 160M tied up in both positions over just the next 4 years alone. If you can lock up Trumbo for $5M a year, it’s great dual insurance for Albert and Josh. If one of them goes down, having a 30 home run guy as the “fill-in” would be awesome.
I doubt that Albert will play his full contract and make $30M in his last year, but let’s pretend he plays late into it. He won’t still be playing the bag late in his career, so why not lock up a guy that will be a great replacement? The Angels aren’t going to be paying for another premier 1st base guy if they’ve already got that much money tied up. Yes, I know the Angels won’t sign Mark long-term at this point, but it’s a nice idea to think they’d have a Trumbo caliber person locked up for when they need him.
Since Scioscia has gone away from stealing and manufacturing runs, the Angels need to make a long-term commitment to power. Between Trout, Trumbo, Hamilton, and Pujols, one of them is going to be on a home run tear at some point during the season. Keeping Trumbo around for the next 4-5 years is going to provide at least 3 guys in a row that can hit the ball deep at any time. The Yankees have enjoyed a consistent power run due to having a consistent (ish), yet aging set of home-run hitters in the lineup.
7. Mark is not a stand-alone power guy
Mark can go on streaks like any good power hitter can. However, he's not the guy you build your lineup around. He is an awesome bookend to Albert and Josh. I don't see him going to a team like the Cubs or Astros for a big contract with the intent to make him a start. He's a great fit for an established team and the Angels can get him cheap for that reason.
I'm hoping to see Mark as a long-term component of a stable power lineup. If you disagree on Mark's value, tweet me... @absolut_joe.