A trade with the Angels may be...heavenly. I'm so sorry. - Harry How
With the Angels and Josh Hamilton agreeing to a megadeal yesterday, they suddenly have too many outfielders again. Could there be a match for Sandy Alderson and the Mets?
With Torii Hunter departing for Detroit earlier this offseason, the Angels' outfield looked a bit less crowded than it was a season ago. Things changed quickly, though, when the Angels inked former Rangers' star outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year deal yesterday. This signing makes the outfield situation in Anaheim a bit of a mess, as the Angels once again have some surplus to deal from out there. In the chart below, you'll find the five Angels' outfielders who are currently on the big league roster:
|Name||Age||2012 BA/OBP/SLG||Career fWAR||2012 wOBA||2012 fWAR||Contract Situation|
|Mike Trout||21||.326/.399/.564||10.0||.409||10.0||Forget about it|
|Mark Trumbo||27||.268/.317/.491||4.6||.346||2.4||3rd year pre-arbitration in 2013, arb eligible in 2014, free agent in 2017|
|Peter Bourjos||26||.220/.291/.315||8.3||.272||1.9||3rd year pre-arbitration in 2013, arb eligible in 2014, free agent in 2017|
|Josh Hamilton||32||.285/.354/.577 (with Texas)||25.0||.387||4.4||5 year, $125 million free agent contract|
|Vernon Wells||34||.230/.279/.403||26.7||.296||0.6||Owed $21 million salary in both 2013 and 2014|
At first glance, two of these players are obviously off-limits in trade talks. Josh Hamilton just signed with the Angels and cannot be traded. Mike Trout is a 21-year old megastar in his second season, meaning there's no way the Angels will trade him and it's doubtful they'd even be able to recoup his value in a trade. Then there's Vernon Wells, who has been downright bad for two seasons and is making $21 million in each of the next two seasons. Even if the Mets could acquire him in a Gary Matthews Jr. sort of arrangement where the Angels eat nearly all of the salary, it's just likely not worth it. Crossing off those three leaves us with Trumbo and Bourjos as the two remaining options on the Angels' roster. Both players possess skills that the Mets could desperately use -- Trumbo owns plenty of righthanded power, while Bourjos utilizes his speed to play excellent defense in center field. Both could conceivably remedy gigantic holes on the Mets' roster but it's important to get more background on each of these guys. Let's dig a little deeper:
Bourjos has been linked to the Mets often in the last year, famously as the return in a potential David Wright trade package. Since then, both players have gone in opposite directions -- Wright rebounded into the 7.8 win superstar that he was in 2012. Bourjos' offensive contributions, however, took a nosedive as he put up a paltry .272 wOBA in limited opportunities thanks to the emergence of Trout. Certainly the down year for Bourjos is concerning but it's probably not fair to use this season to gauge his future performance either. His at bats were sporadic at best and essentially non-existent over the last two months of the year (just 15 plate appearances over those two months).
Even with the sporadic at bats, Bourjos saw his strikeout rate sit at essentially his career average (22.6% in 2012, 22.1% career), while his walk rate trended up to a career best 7.7%. The big change from his above average 2011 was the fact that his modest power disappeared and he ended up trading some line drives for groundballs (13.3% line drive rate, 51.7% groundball rate in 2012). For a guy with Bourjos' speed, hitting a lot of groundballs isn't the worst strategy but you'd like to see him hit more line drives, which could turn into doubles and triples with his speed. Interestingly enough, Bourjos' plate discipline PitchFX shows that he cut down on swinging at pitches outside the zone by over 6% from 2011, which seems to go along with the uptick in walks (and remember, small sample caveats apply to all of this).
The good news for Bourjos is that his defense in center field was just as excellent as usual, as Defensive Runs Saved rated him a +9 and UZR had him at 15.9 in just 501 innings. We all know the flaws of small sample defensive stats but these numbers fit in with his career history and the glowing defensive scouting reports. So what should we make of Bourjos? He's legitimately an excellent defensive center fielder but the bat is the big question. If you're optimistic that 2011 is repeatable or that he can even improve on that (not out of the question for a 26-year old), then you've got a very valuable starting center fielder under control for four seasons. If he's not going to hit line drives and hit around a .300 wOBA, he's probably more of a 4th outfielder. If the Mets could acquire him as a buy low, they'd be wise to take that gamble considering their dearth of options. Coming off of a rough season, though, he likely would not be an adequate centerpiece in an R.A. Dickey or Jon Niese trade.
It was a tale of two seasons for Mark Trumbo in 2012. Trumbo hit lots of home runs as a rookie in 2011 with a low on base percentage but he lost his first base job to Albert Pujols. Moved to third base and then the corner outfield, Trumbo's bat exploded early on and by the All-Star break, he was hitting a robust .306/.358/.608 with 22 home runs and 15 doubles. Unfortunately, his fortunes turned as he hit an awful .208/.250/.302 in August and September and struck out an amazing 72 times in just 204 plate appearances, finishing his season with a decent .268/.317/.491 line.
Looking at the offensive indicators, Trumbo's line drive, groundball and fly ball rates were essentially unchanged from 2011. He benefited from a 20.6% HR/FB rate, a 3% rise from 2011. He also saw both of his walk and strikeout rates rise. The walk rate rose from an ugly 4.4% to a less ugly 6.1%, while the strikeout rate jumped from 20.9% to 26.1%. Despite this, he cut down on his out of zone swing rate by about 3.5% according to the PitchFX numbers. One other thing about Trumbo is that he does not have a discernible platoon split.
Trumbo's defense is another issue, as the converted first baseman was forced to move after a decidedly positive defensive season in 2011 thanks to the signing of Mr. Pujols. The Angels first tried Trumbo at 3rd base, which ended up a disaster. He was then pushed to RF, where DRS had him at -6 and UZR had him at -3.8 over 263 innings. Trumbo ended up spending most of his time in LF and was rated somewhere between positive and scratch (+7 by DRS, -0.5 by UZR). As a converted first baseman, it seems likely that he's probably closer to scratch than +7 but without watching him play, it's impossible to make that judgement.
The question with Trumbo is whether or not his first four months of 2012 are repeatable. If they are, that's a premium righthanded power-hitting outfielder. If not, you're probably talking about just a solid regular type if his defense in left field trends as a negative. His final 2012 line is nothing to sneeze at but in concert with his outfield defense, it likely does not equate to a star level player. Considering how great he was for the first four months of 2012 and the fact that he's entering his prime, he seems like he'd be a good buy and depending on how optimistic you are, he could be centerpiece in a Dickey or Niese trade. The low walk rate is a bit concerning but his power output is undeniable and it seems like there may be some potential there to untap if he can get back to his April through July 2012 offensive levels.
Trumbo and Bourjos have attributes that the Mets could use but have enough flaws that they're not exactly perfect matches. This seems like it could make them more attainable but that also makes them more risky. Both would seem to be worthwhile acquisitions, depending on who goes back to the Angels and the fact that they're under control for four years each is a positive.
Before we end this, the Angels also have a couple of other players on their 40-man roster to examine. Kendrys Morales has a grand total of 76 innings in the outfield in his major league career. He's a strong hitter but the outfield doesn't seem to be a realistic option here, considering his recent leg injuries. Kole Calhoun is a 25-year old outfielder who flew through the Angels' system after being drafted in the 8th round in the 2010 draft out of Arizona State. The lefty swinger hit .298/.369/.507 in AAA in 2012 after completely skipping AA and also made his big league debut. He's played all three outfield positions and it sounds like his instincts out there are great even if he's not the fastest guy. With so many outfielders on the big league team, he seems like he could be another possible odd man out and would be an interesting trade target.
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