St. Louis Cardinals: Please do not consider Mark Trumbo
The St. Louis Cardinals left the Winter Meetings successful after they signed center fielder Dexter Fowler. However, there remains a number of big bats on the market that might fit into Mike Matheny’s lineup pretty well.
The St. Louis Cardinals, according to John Mozeliak, are just looking to add complementary pieces and have completed their major moves. They recently signed Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil as their big moves while adding players like Eric Fryer to be those complementary pieces.
But, as many fans may know, there are some big-time power bats still available on the free agent market. Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista and Mike Napoli have all had issues finding teams willing to reach their desired prices. However, these players may need to compromise and lower their prices and years requested. If that’s the case, the St. Louis Cardinals could capitalize on the cheaper opportunities.
Encarnacion and Trumbo specifically have enticed fans and reporters. Both are sluggers that are perceived as players that would turn the high-OBP batting order into a high octane offense. However, unlike the positive opinion on Encarnacion, the Cardinals should not be interested in Mark Trumbo whatsoever.
Trumbo played in 159 games last season for the Baltimore Orioles. He led the majors in 47 home runs, tacked on 108 RBI and finished the season with a .256/.316/.533 slash-line. That all sounds awesome for a bat the Cardinals could slot in at #3 or #4 however, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Mark Trumbo.
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Trumbo may have been a huge power threat in the American League East, but he’s also hugely reliant on those home runs. He hit 47 bombs but managed to strikeout 25.5% of the time. He also struggles to get on base at a decent rate which can be partially attributed to his below-average walk rate of 7.6%. And while his 2016 slash-line looks great on the surface, he outperformed his career norms by quite a margin. Through his 7-year career, he’s batted .251/.303/473.
His batting average and his on-base percentage just do not fit John Mozeliak’s plan for the St. Louis Cardinals’ offense. Mozeliak went with a high-OBP guy in Dexter Fowler (.393 2016 OBP) to match up with Matt Carpenter (.380), Aledmys Diaz (.369) and Stephen Piscotty (.343). Trumbo would essentially be the exact opposite of that scheme.
Furthermore, Mark Trumbo doesn’t fit John Mozeliak’s goals of improving the defense. Trumbo has primarily been a right fielder or a first baseman when he isn’t playing as the designated hitter. For the Orioles, he logged 783 innings in right field in 2016 and posted a minus-9 defensive runs saved and a minus-5.9 ultimate zone rating.
For first base, Trumbo played 37 innings in 2016 so any stats can be considered negligible due to small sample size. If we go back to 2013 when Trumbo played 1st base full-time for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he managed to be a little above average. In 1030.2 innings, he posted a 8.5 UZR and had 2 defensive runs saved. However, that athleticism and defensive ability seems to be in Trumbo’s past considering how poor he’s been in the field since then.
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And in case Trumbo’s power still makes you think he’s worth the Cardinals pursuing him, let’s compare him to former Cardinal slugger Brandon Moss. With the Redbirds, Moss batted .225/.300/.484 in 2016. He played in 128 games, hit 28 home runs and batted in 67 runs. Less production surely, but their slash-lines are very similar.
Furthermore, Moss has a career slash-line of .241/.319/.455. Compared to Trumbo’s .251/.303/.473 and again, we find them incredibly similar. And in 2016, Moss walked more (8.4 BB%) but struck out at a higher rate (30.4%).
However, Moss seemed more capable in the field than Trumbo. Through 397 innings at first base he posted a minus-3 DRS and a minus-3.3 UZR. While patrolling a corner outfield position for 507.1 total innings, he did better and posted a 5.3 UZR with 3 DRS.
So really, signing Mark Trumbo would be like keeping Brandon Moss with a few small differences. Trumbo is right handed while Moss is left handed. Trumbo has a slightly better batting average throughout his career but walks less and has a lower on-base percentage. Trumbo also strikes out slightly less and has better slugging percentages but Moss is capable of better defense, especially in the outfield.
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The St. Louis Cardinals did not keep Brandon Moss for multiple reasons. Those reasons happen to be the same ones not to pursue Mark Trumbo. Yes, Trumbo’s power and home run ability is exciting and threatening, however he basically lacks all the other tools that the Cardinals and John Mozeliak are looking for. So please Cardinals Nation, do not be disappointed or surprised when Mark Trumbo isn’t even on the Cardinals’ radar this offseason.