MLB: Cleveland Indians at Los Angeles Angels

A rather dramatic three-team deal just threw the Winter Meetings into gear, with the Angels shipping out slugger Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with two players to be named later, Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago of the White Sox headed to Anaheim and Adam Eaton on his way to Chicago.

It’s a big deal, as the Angels had so little room to maneuver they needed to make any deal involving Mark Trumbo. The Orange County native, an useful power hitter about to get more expensive as he hits arbitration for the first time, represents tantalizing power from the right side of the plate. It was too much for Arizona to resist, as they give up a stalled pitching prospect and their exciting center fielder to get the ever elusive right-handed power bat.

Mark Trumbo is not a perfect ballplayer. His on base percentage dipped under .300 this season, his third at the big league level. Playing his home games in spacious Angels Stadium doesn’t help him at all. What Mark Trumbo offers, in addition to a terrific makeup and willingness to do whatever is asked of him to help the team, is power. Tons and tons of power. The kind of power that doesn’t just grow on trees at the big league level.

Over the last three seasons, few hitters in baseball can claim they hit more home runs than Trumbo did as a member of the Angels. In fact, only four players hit more. Four. In all of baseball. Playing in Arizona is only going to enhance the elite part of Trumbo’s game, as the mind behind ZiPS projections points out.

Chase Field is an offense-boosting ballpark but hitting 35 home runs in the desert is no mean feat. The Diamondbacks have only seen three such seasons in the last decade. Bitter Snakes’ fans might evoke the name of Mark Reynolds, a former Az slugger with a similar profile. It is important to remember that Trumbo is not the same player as Reynolds, he is in fact much better through the same stages of their career.

Arizona Diamondbacks 35 home run seasons

Rk Yrs From To Age
1 Paul Goldschmidt 1 2013 2013 25-25 Ind. Seasons
2 Mark Reynolds 1 2009 2009 25-25 Ind. Seasons
3 Troy Glaus 1 2005 2005 28-28 Ind. Seasons
4 Luis Gonzalez 1 2001 2001 33-33 Ind. Seasons
5 Steve Finley 1 2000 2000 35-35 Ind. Seasons
6 Matt Williams 1 1999 1999 33-33 Ind. Seasons
7 Jay Bell 1 1999 1999 33-33 Ind. Seasons
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/10/2013.

A lot of shine came off the Tyler Skaggs prospect diamond this season, as he struggled to take the necessary steps required to become a big league pitcher. Velocity concerns, command concerns, and concerns over his ability to make it work with an iffy fastball caused the Diamondbacks to send him back to the organization that drafted him.

Hector Santiago is a true rarity, a screwball pitcher in the year 2013. The White Sox give up on a lefty starter with suspect command and a gimmick pitch after he pitched 150 innings with a 3.53 ERA. The results look fine but the underlying numbers present a questionable future, as his less-than-encouraging projected ERAs suggest. He walked more than 10% of the batters he faced as a starter last season. Calling Anaheim his home, where Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton patrol the outfield, will help keep runs off the board.

Adam Eaton is the sort of gamer/grinder a lot of front offices love to have around, with an all-out style in the outfield and good on base skills and the ability to swipe a bag, many believe Eaton would jump up and take the charge of the Arizona outfield. Instead, a disappointing and injury-shortened campaign begets a trade to Chicago, where he likely serves as a fourth outfielder.

In the leadup to this trade, it was interesting to watch the “baseball twitter” tear itself apart over Mark Trumbo. An all-world good dude with an elite skill who also struggles in other aspects of the game. Too often the perfect becomes an enemy of the good. Trumbo can contribute with real big league power, he can play every day and he is durable. There’s value in that, it just so happens that the Angels leveraged these skills to address glaring needs in their roster.

The two players Anaheim takes back are interesting in that they’re not quite finished products. Both Skaggs and Santiago have opportunities to improve and further develop at the big league level. Odd in that the Angels roster is built for today. Some might argue it’s built for three years ago but the future is definitely now for the Angels, with Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, CJ WIlson, and Jered Weaver either in the middle of their peaks or slowly sliding down the other side of the mountain.

Anaheim improves an area of need but they cannot consider their shopping done. While Kole Calhoun can slip into an everyday role in left field, another starter is all but required for the Angels to compete with the Rangers and A’s (and Mariners) in the toughening AL West.

The Diamondbacks and their lifequest for right-handed power now have two of the very best in the business squarely planted in the heart of their order. It’s the power of depth, it allows teams to pursue that which they need most.