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Miami Marlins trade target: Mark Trumbo

The Miami Marlins seem to be among the teams interested in Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo. What would it take to acquire the slugger?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows the Miami Marlins are interested in acquiring position players. While our 2014 Fish Stripes Marlins Offseason Plan had them focus on filling holes without a particular type of player in mind, it seems Miami wants to fill a particular need in power. Miami was last in the league in home runs by a significant margin and were one of six Major League teams since the scoring environment increased in 1993 to hit fewer than 100 home runs in a full season (excludes strike-shortened years).

So while my plan called for filling in catcher and second base by calling the Los Angeles Angels for a trade involving defensive pieces Hank Conger and Howie Kendrick, the Marlins have their eyes on a more power-hitting Angel in first baseman Mark Trumbo. The Marlins would be interested in his 30-homer power amid the team's mostly popless lineup. But what is Trumbo worth, and would he be a good fit in Miami?

Trumbo Power

Mark Trumbo has hit 30-plus home runs in each of the last two seasons and he has a career ISO of .219, so he must be doing something right. In 2012, he made the Home Run Derby after hitting 21 homers in the first half, and last year he repeated the feat with 22 homers in the first half. In both seasons, he trailed off in the second half, and for his career, he has hit .226/.268/.410 (.294 wOBA) in the second half following a career .268/.324/.517 (.358 wOBA) line in the first half of seasons.

Overall, Trumbo appears to have good power, as he ranks 27th in baseball in ISO since 2011. His .221 mark is around the same as players like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard, so something must be right in his power swing. But the Marlins are probably enamored by just the home run portion of that power; Trumbo has the seventh-most home runs from 2011 to 2013, behind only an elite cadre of sluggers that includes Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Bautista among others.

Thus, it is important to note that Trumbo's value and power come primarily from home runs. It just so happens that Marlins Park happens to suppress that very same thing. A good amount of the reason why the Marlins hit so few homers in 2013 was because of a distinct lack of talent, but some of it was because Marlins Park is tied with San Francisco's AT&T Park as the stadium that suppresses home runs the most. The stadium's large dimensions could cut into the only thing that Trumbo does well, making him not a strong fit in Miami for half of the games.

The only comforting aspect in terms of Trumbo's fit in the stadium is his handedness. While the park really suppresses left-handed home runs (second-worst in the majors), it is not as bad at holding back righty power hitters (tied for third, but at a more friendly level). Trumbo would be much more likely to fit in than Logan Morrison, who has had difficulty finding lift into the distant home run porch in right field. Still, according to the regressed park factors seen on FanGraphs, Trumbo maybe expected to lose five percent of the home runs he hit due to the park factor.

No Other Skills

The problem with importing a power hitter like Trumbo is that he lacks significant other skills. Unlike Giancarlo Stanton, who strikes out a lot and complements that with a decent number of walks and power, Trumbo has struggled to develop plate discipline. His walk rate jumped to a career-best 8.0 percent last season, but that mark is lower than Stanton's career low set in his rookie year. Trumbo has swung at 50 percent of his pitches or more in each season and has made contact on about 73 percent of his swings for his career. Among qualified players, that level of contact is the 16th-lowest since 2011.

The issue is that, while Trumbo has power, he has very few other offensive skills to back up his play. He may get more gap shots and doubles to compensate for some of the lost home runs, but he is unlikely to help his own cause by drawing a significant number of walks or otherwise get on base at a decent clip. Even with all of Stanton's struggles last year, he still posted the best OBP of his career. Trumbo's OBP has never climbed past .317.

That shows in his overall numbers. While the home runs are impressive, Trumbo's career .250/.299/.469 (.329 wOBA) batting line is questionable for a first baseman. Over the last three seasons, he ranks 19th in wRC+ (total offense statistic that park-adjusts and compares a hitter's line to the league average). His line was 12 percent better than the league average, which is tied with Ryan Howard and is a little worse than guys like Lucas Duda and Mark Teixeira. In fact, his projected .246/.307/.466 (.332 wOBA) according to Steamer is almost exactly the same as Logan Morrison's projected line (.250/.341/.424, .334 wOBA).


Therein lies the problem for the Marlins. It is likely that Trumbo has more power than Morrison or any number of other out-of-house options at first base, but he does come with significant downsides. He does not get on base enough that he may actually be the same hitter as Logan Morrison next season! So why should the Marlins trade for him?

But the Fish are intent on finding power over valuing players as a whole, and it is not as though Trumbo lacks value. Steamer projects him to be a two-win player next year. Assuming he stays as close to a league average player in each of the next three seasons, he could be worth $12 million in surplus or trade value by the end of his team control.

What could the Marlins trade that would be worth $12 million? Andrew Heaney or Justin Nicolino on their own could be worth that amount of money, but the Fish are unlikely to send Heaney and the Angels want more immediate help in their pitching staff. The Fish could start a deal with either Henderson Alvarez or Jacob Turner, but any trade would likely have to include more players from the Angels' side, as both players are more valuable than Trumbo at this point. Could a package of Trumbo and either Chris Iannetta or Howie Kendrick intrigue the Marlins enough to send one of their young starters like Turner and perhaps a lower-end prospect?

The team could go in that direction if the Angels would be willing to work with Turner as the center of the deal, but not Alvarez. The truth is that while Los Angeles values Trumbo highly, most of the rest of the league is wise to his game. Miami should not sell a significant part of their pitching depth for just Trumbo, and a deal for someone other than Turner should include more long-term options than just Trumbo.

Trading Alvarez as part of a package to acquire Hank Conger and Trumbo may be worthwhile and similar to our Conger/Kendrick trade. How would such a trade look?

Henderson Alvarez 45.6 ---
Prospect 9 ---

49 Hank Conger
--- 12 Mark Trumbo
Total: 54.6
Total: 61

The Angels would receive a little more value, but one could conceivably mix up the numbers on prospects and Conger's value and get a decent fit. The Fish could also add one of their relievers to help even out the numbers. Overall, a deal like this could be fair and allow the Angels to shed some salary and gain a Major League-ready starter immediately.

What do you readers think? Is Trumbo a better addition to the Offseason Plan trade than Kendrick? How do you think Trumbo fits into the Marlins' roster? Let us know in the comments!

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