LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Three-team deal!
There. Got your attention. Didn't I?
There's nothing that gets hearts pumping at any winter meetings more than those words:
But unlike a lot of modern baseball trades, the three-team extravaganza the Diamondbacks, Angels and White Sox pulled off Tuesday was a real, live baseball trade. Imagine that.
"It's nice," said White Sox GM Rick Hahn. "It's a pure baseball deal."
And that's how all three teams sold it. They had a need. They traded for guys who addressed that need. And now everyone can live happily ever after.
But did all three teams really solve their problems as perfectly as advertised? Good question.
The White Sox got the high-energy, high-on-base "dirtball" (Hahn's affectionate description) they'd been hunting all winter, in Adam Eaton. … The Diamondbacks got a monster bat to plug into a lineup that was stunningly power-challenged last summer, in Mark Trumbo. … And the Angels got two young, low-cost, controllable starting pitchers who addressed their dire rotation-depth crisis, in Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago.
But are all three perfect fits? Let's take a closer look.
What the D-backs were thinking: All the Diamondbacks' outfielders combined hit three more home runs last season (37) than Trumbo hit all by himself (34). So … any more questions? And it isn't just this team that's getting desperate for power, said GM Kevin Towers. It's every team. As he looks around, there's no power in the free-agent market. There's virtually no power coming in next year's free-agent market. And there's not a whole lot coming in the draft, either.
"So if it's not at the amateur level, and it's not in the minor leagues, and it's not at the big league level or internationally," Towers said, "you'd better jump on it and get it when you can."
And if it's pure, unvarnished mash-ability the D-backs need, then Trumbo -- whose average home run distance over the past three years (412.3 feet) is the sixth best in the sport -- is a great fit. But his package also includes a sub-.300 OBP (.294), a climbing strikeout barrage (120, to 153, to 184 over the past three seasons) and questions about whether he can play left field effectively. So with all that thump come major issues.
What the outside world is thinking: Towers shrugged off Trumbo's strikeouts, saying: "With power is going to come strikeouts." He also said confidently that Trumbo can handle left field, predicting he would put in the work to become "at least a solid, average defender in left field with a plus arm."
But one scout I surveyed Tuesday gave this wary review: "I'm not as excited about Trumbo as a lot of people. Oh, he can hit 40 [home runs] there. I'd say 40 would probably be my magic number if you backed me into a corner. So they'll get some homers, and some game-breaking homers. But with the homers are going to come a ton of strikeouts and a ton of lousy at-bats. And I'm not sure if he can play the outfield. So he's a mixed bag for me."
The view from here: Towers knows the upside, and he can live with the downside. But if Skaggs lives up to his hype from two years ago, the Diamondbacks might have overpaid for what Trumbo is.