ESPN MLB insider Keith Law was asked by Doug and Wolf Wednesday morning about the three-team deal that brought the Arizona Diamondbacks Mark Trumbo while costing them pitcher Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton.
“I don’t understand what the Diamondbacks are doing,” he said. “It’s as if they’ve never seen Mark Trumbo play a day in his life.”
In an ESPN Insider piece about the deal, Law called Trumbo a “square peg” for the D-backs and compared him to former Atlanta Brave Ryan Klesko as far as outfield ability.
And note: Klesko was not exactly known for being a stellar defender.
“I can picture the Diamondbacks’ front office sitting there at Salt River Fields in late March and wondering what the heck they’ve done,” he wrote.
With D&W, he said his concern lies with the fact that Trumbo’s best position is first base, and the D-backs have that spot locked down pretty well for the foreseeable future.
“Unless they know something about Goldschmidt that we don’t, I have a feeling they’re going to get about a month into the season and see Trumbo in left field and say ‘What the heck did we do,'” he said. “He can’t play there, he certainly can’t play third. There’s really no spot for him on this team.”
Last season, with the Los Angeles Angels, Trumbo hit .234 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI. He struck out 184 times and had an on-base percentage of .294. Of his 620 at-bats, 464 came with him as a first baseman, 69 as a designated hitter, 59 as a right fielder and 26 as a left fielder.
“He’s basically a one-tool player,” Law added. “He’s got tremendous raw power, and right-handed power is a pretty scarce commodity right now. But he comes with terribly low on-base percentages, which is just a function of the fact that he can’t hit breaking stuff at all.
“And he has no position. The only place he can reasonably play is first base. There’s mixed opinions whether he’s just OK at first base or whether he’s actually got a chance to be good there, but it doesn’t matter because the Diamondbacks don’t have a place for him to play at first base right now.
“So they acquired a player who doesn’t help them a ton on offense — helps them a little bit — but there’s absolutely no place for him in the lineup and he’s going to give back a huge part of that offensive value with what he’s unable to accomplish on defense.”
One of the reasons for the trade, by all accounts, is the Diamondbacks’ desire to add protection to the lineup for Goldschmidt. The theory is if there is a better hitter behind him, the team’s MVP candidate will receive better pitches to hit and thus produce even better statistics than the .302 average, 36 home runs, 125 RBI and .401 OBP he did in 2013.
“Is he going to be better than he was last year,” Law asked. “Was Paul Goldschmidt sort of not good enough? Did he not reach his ceiling last year?”
In fact, Law does not actually believe in the concept of lineup protection, saying there is no evidence that it really exists in a beneficial way.
“If you’re acquiring somebody thinking you’re going to get more out of Goldschmidt next year, that seems a little bit delusional,” Law said. “Goldschmidt was probably the best offensive player in the National League last year.
“Thinking you’re going to get more out of that, if that’s your plan for 2014, you should probably rethink it. Maybe consider can we get some more offense out of other positions as opposed to first base, where we got more than any other club in baseball.”