Mark Trumbo, Vidal Nuno –> Seattle; Dom Leone, Welington Castillo, Gabby Guerrero, Jack Reinheimer –> Arizona

marc w · June 3, 2015 at 9:39 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s and Diamondbacks pulled off a six-player swap tonight that bring free-swinging slugger Mark Trumbo and undersized lefty starter Vidal Nuno to the M’s. At first glance, this seems like something of an odd move. The M’s have done very well against lefties, and struggled a bit against righties on the year. The M’s have a high SLG%, low OBP righty to platoon at LF/DH in Rickie Weeks, and the M’s just saw Mike Montgomery pitch effectively against the Yankees. It seems odd, because it is – there’s no getting around it. Many baseball writers I respect are lining up to lambast the trade, and I completely understand the argument: the M’s have been terrible at getting on base, and adept at hitting home runs, and this combination has produced a bad offense overall. The M’s just acquired a hitter who’s terrible at getting on base, but adept at hitting home runs. Typically, teams patch holes by acquiring skills they don’t have instead of acquiring players whose skills mirror the club’s (hole-infested) overall numbers. When Mike Morse failed, the club brought in Corey Hart. When Rickie Weeks failed, they’re bringing in Mark Trumbo *at the cost of a top prospect*.

And yet, you look at the overall talent the M’s are bringing in versus what they’re sending out and the picture gets a bit fuzzier. This is, essentially, a brilliant answer to a question no one’s asked. And that brings us to something that may actually balance the oddity of bringing a sub-.300 OBP slugger to a sub-.300 OBP team. If you’re a big league GM in 2015, what’s the BEST POSSIBLE phone call you could receive? Maybe that your pitching prospect in AA is suddenly throwing 105, or that your low-A shortstop has homered in 15 straight at-bats. Failing that, though, I think perhaps the dream scenario is for Arizona GM Dave Stewart to call you, and for Dave Stewart to have a clear, imminent, pressing need. Arizona has confused the rest of baseball with a series of moves that, thus far, have failed to improve the club. They have a brilliant, all-star 1B and some solid pieces around him, but their eye for pro talent seems…different than other clubs. The club committed $70 million to Cuban Yasmany Tomas then tried and repeatedly failed to convince people he was a 3B and not a LF. This week, their starting catcher, Tuffy Gosewisch, went down with an ACL tear and will miss the rest of the year. The D-Backs are playing 3B/C Jordan Pacheco and the mortal remains of Gerald Laird at C right now, and you’re Jack Zduriencik, and a phone call comes in with a 602 area code. What would YOU do?

The D-Backs have been shopping Mark Trumbo for a while. They have three solid OFs in AJ Pollock, Ender Inciarte and David Peralta, and they’ve got Tomas, who seriously can’t play 3B and would have to move anyway when starter Jake Lamb returns from injury. If there’s one player in baseball available for a sub-market price, it might be Trumbo. Adding in Vidal Nuno, who fills an ACTUAL need for the M’s, and the move gets easier to stomach. More importantly, while Trumbo doesn’t seem like a great fit in Seattle, he’s probably a good fit *somewhere*. In the next month, teams that have a need might inquire about Trumbo, and now they’ll call Seattle. I believe the M’s acquired Welington Castillo with the belief that he’d stick around and provide some offense from the C spot, but dealt him because they had a better offer. Similarly, I think the M’s believe Trumbo is a solution to their runs-scored problem, but I have to think they’d listen if, say, the Angels wanted to upgrade from poor-man’s-Trumbo CJ Cron to the genuine article in an attempt to track down the Astros. The M’s have turned Yoervis Medina, Dom Leone and prospects into Mark Trumbo and rotation depth. That’s not an earth-shattering return, but it’s also not too shabby.

The part of this deal that stings is losing Gabriel Guerrero, Vlad’s nephew and an intriguing talent who was a consensus top-10 prospect for the M’s. Despite hitting .300 in the Cal League last year, Guerrero clearly hasn’t turned his raw tools into production at this stage. He’s got a .567 OPS in AA thus far – a .267 wOBA – in his age-21 season. The comparison is as unfair as it is inevitable, but Vlad Guerrero was *also* 21 when he AA, but his slash line was a bit different – it was .360/.438/.612. Turning tools to talent takes longer for some guys, so Gabby’s current year OPS is clearly not his ceiling, but bloodlines and tools only go so far. Magglio Ordonez famously struggled for years in the White Sox system and he turned out okay, but I think people forget just how unlikely it is for guys who struggle in the minors to turn into big league stars. I’m not as into scouting-by-statistics as I was when I was young and dumb, but Guerrero has plenty of red flags at this stage.

Castillo clearly filled a need on the M’s, and his absence makes the team marginally weaker. Instead of Castillo spelling Zunino, it’ll be Jesus Sucre or John Hicks. Neither has, or will ever have, Castillo’s bat, and that’s a clear downgrade. But both might be better defenders, and the offensive gap simply can’t be that big given the number of plate appearances Castillo and his replacements would get the rest of the way. Losing Dominic Leone is tougher now that the M’s vaunted relief-pitching depth isn’t what it used to be, but we’re talking about a (struggling) 6th inning righty. Leone wasn’t going to close for this club, and is appropriately behind Tom Wilhelmsen and Carson Smith as righty set-up men. Jack Reinheimer was a perfectly decent MiLB SS who was already splitting time with perfectly decent MiLB SS Tyler Smith for AA Jackson. The M’s side of the deal isn’t JUST org depth, but they paid a price they could afford.

Ultimately, your view of this comes down to two things. One, is Gabriel Guerrero one tweak away from stardom or another in a long line of Vlad’s relatives who haven’t been able to hack it in the affiliated minors? Two, is this a case where Zduriencik’s fixation on RH power will override any potential benefit the M’s might get from pulling off a solid trade – that is, will the club’s need to run an OF of Trumbo/Ruggiano/Cruz against any lefty, defense be damned, prevent them from maximizing their return? I don’t really know the answer to either question. I believe Guerrero is a long shot, and I believe Trumbo has actual value*. I think the M’s are in a better position as we near the trade deadline, even as I acknowledge that they haven’t materially improved the 2015 offense that much. I’m a bit concerned that the club doesn’t care about their own OBP, and I’m concerned at how they’ve handled the bench and LF spots to date. That said, I keep thinking about the value of a desperate Dave Stewart, willing to sell Trumbo and Nuno in exchange for Welington Castillo+.

* In a very low run-scoring environment, SLG% becomes more valuable, as you’re less likely to string a bunch of hits together to score runs. In a high run-scoring environment, OBP is more valuable, because the cost of each out is higher. The M’s play in a very low-scoring environment, so you could kind of straight-face an argument about Trumbo here. It wouldn’t really work given the M’s combo of terrible OBP, high-SLG% and terrible runs-scored, but you could say that Trumbo is in a way more valuable in Seattle than in Arizona, even if he’d likely put up better numbers in the desert. That’s putting aside his value to other clubs, which is real, and might rise the closer we get to the trade deadline.
[EDIT – Dave has a good article at Fangraphs this morning on the point I raised here, that Trumbo has a bit more value in Seattle *because* the team OBP and run environment are low. Take a look.]


31 Responses to “Mark Trumbo, Vidal Nuno –> Seattle; Dom Leone, Welington Castillo, Gabby Guerrero, Jack Reinheimer –> Arizona”

  1. kaleyk on June 3rd, 2015 10:08 pm

    The team traded two roster spots for two roster spots but lost a catcher ….. Sucre gets the recall to be the back-up catcher …. Who gets the boot? It has to be Weeks …. Trumbo provides better RH power, plays better OF defense (which isn’t saying much), and he can play 1B.

  2. LongDistance on June 3rd, 2015 10:09 pm

    Good effort at gleaning whatever could be gleaned from this trade. The problem with using this as a setup for trade bait, if the idea that the trade in question will tweak them, as contenders, into playoff favorites … is that they have to already be contenders.

    So, meh. I join the chorus of those who see enough of a silver lining in this that it does anything. But, being baseball, I could be wrong.

  3. Westside guy on June 3rd, 2015 10:24 pm

    “If you’re a big league GM in 2015, what’s the BEST POSSIBLE phone call you could receive?”

    One might argue it’s a call from Jack Zduriencik when he’s trying to acquire one of your veterans.

  4. marc w on June 3rd, 2015 10:28 pm

    Yeah, kaleyk, think it’s probably Weeks who’s the odd man out.

    And LD, I don’t think anyone sees Trumbo as the difference between contending and becoming playoff favorites, but there are *good* teams with holes at 1B/DH. The Angels love Trumbo and seriously, check out CJ Cron’s line. Trading Trumbo to Anaheim would essentially be an admission of defeat on 2015, but they may be forced to that position in the next few weeks. If Trumbo boosts the offense singlehandedly and the M’s crawl back in it, then that’s cool too.

  5. Paul L on June 3rd, 2015 10:57 pm

    “Ultimately, your view of this comes down to two things.”

    Three, if you don’t trust a single thing Zduriencik does, which is where I stand at the moment.

    I’d be worried about another Adam Jones fiasco, but we don’t even have an Adam-Jones-level talent to embarrass ourselves by trading away.

  6. LongDistance on June 3rd, 2015 11:01 pm

    You’re right and, yeah, I know. I said, if contention to favorite was the idea. I guess, regardless of the evidence at hand, I’m still not completely ready to throw in the towel on 2015. Although, to this point, I’m not sure I’m seeing 2015, neither what was promoted nor what I expected. I’m seeing fleeting glimpses of 2014, way too much of 2013, even some 2010 and 2011. My worry is that I really am seeing 2015.

  7. WestyHerr on June 4th, 2015 1:09 am

    Richie Sexson 2.0

  8. Seatt101 on June 4th, 2015 6:00 am

    I like the trade so that appears to put me in a minority of one.
    Firstly I see Vidal as better bet than Leone.
    I see Reinheimer as being expendable given Taylor and Marte.
    Castillo is a number two and as for Guerrero we have Jackson, Kivlehan, Wilson, O’Neill, Morgan, Lara, Cousino, Hernandez and Morban so why not back the ones who remain in the farm to do better than Guerrero.
    As for Trumbo – hit and miss but valuable even if as future trade bait when we sell up toward the end of July if things don’t improve.
    Not a major step forward but offers the team more if it only eliminates Weeks from the roster.

  9. asuray on June 4th, 2015 7:43 am

    I’m okay with this deal. Nuno looks to be decent and might have more value than Trumbo all told. He also has like five years of team control remaining. Trumbo has one more year of team control as well so, if you’re not sold on 2015, then you can still look forward to having the option of keeping him around in 2016 at a reasonable price. Trumbo has also been a league-average player up until last year when he was battling injuries. Guerrero is a long shot to be a contributor given how raw he is. Leone was great last year, but has struggled in AAA/MLB this year and as an MR has limited value. I kind of liked Castillo, but he’s a backup C. A team can lose a backup C and not feel much of a sting. Replacing Weeks/Ackley in the lineup will be welcome. Ackley can still serve in his defensive replacement role (Trumbo will need one) and get some starts vs. RHP.

  10. asuray on June 4th, 2015 7:46 am

    “As for Trumbo – hit and miss”

    I don’t agree with this. Trumbo was a consistent ~2 WAR contributor from 2011-2013. He was hurt last year and posted an awful -1.2 WAR. This year he’s back on pace for ~2 WAR given a similar number of PAs to what he had in 2011-2013. Aging and injuries aside, he looks like a good bet to be a league average player.

  11. firecap81 on June 4th, 2015 8:39 am

    To fix this team we need to get high OB% guys to set the table for our hr hitters. This just adds another bunch of whiffs to our already strike out crazy menagerie. We didn’t lose much, but I don’t see a lot of improvement either. What we gain in power we lose on defense and OBP.

  12. rth1986 on June 4th, 2015 9:12 am

    Assuming Weeks gets the boot, then here’s how the pieces fall:

    Weeks->Trumbo – not as big of an upgrade as people think. Weeks has much better discipline and above average pop with minimal defensive value. Similar story with Trumbo, though he does have more “elite” power. Trumbo is a nice platoon option at 1B or DH, but that’s about it. Definitely don’t like the idea of him (or Cruz, for that matter) getting any sort of significant time in the OF.

    Leone->Nuno – Leone clearly has more upside. Nuno is okay, but clearly fits a “decent swingman” profile. Leone could be a closer if he cleans things up. Nuno could be a decent back-end starter.

    Castillo->Sucre – obviously a big downgrade here and one of the biggest issues with the trade. Castillo was a nice get, but now we lost that catcher depth we needed so badly a few weeks ago. Hopefully Jack has another move in the works for a back-up catcher, but catching is hard to acquire…

    Agreed with what Peter Gammons said about acquiring Pollock over Trumbo. Pollock is breaking out in a huge way, though, and I bet Arizona wouldn’t have done that. Clearly, Jack is up to his old tricks and is favoring pure power over any other meaningful skill….

  13. Doug1060 on June 4th, 2015 9:49 am

    Jack’s teams here have been at the bottom of OBP for several years now. This is clearly a short term fix to try and keep the Mariners from being 10 games under .500 at the All Star break.
    Somehow his philosophy needs to change, and start gathering speedy players with good OBP. Then, these “boppers” will have someone on base if they hit one out.
    Otherwise we’ll still be a team getting about 45% of our runs via homers, but still near the bottom of the league in runs scored.

  14. wtnuke on June 4th, 2015 11:20 am

    This strikes me as a guy who is desperate to keep his job making a desperation trade to acquire the only kind of player that he believes is valuable. I can’t believe Jack Z still has a job at this point, but here we are.

  15. Utis on June 4th, 2015 11:28 am

    Franklin Gutierrez is an interesting OF option down in Tacoma. If he is finally healthy, a big if I know, he could be a big help. I can see bringing him up and dropping Rugs.

  16. djw on June 4th, 2015 11:35 am

    Weeks->Trumbo – not as big of an upgrade as people think. Weeks has much better discipline and above average pop with minimal defensive value. Similar story with Trumbo, though he does have more “elite” power.

    This comparison overlooks an important difference: Trumbo is playing in a manner consistent with his 2011-2013 established level of value, and he’s under 30. Weeks is three years older, and from 2012 on appeared to be a speedy decline, except for a 2014 resurgence driven largely by a good bit of BABIP luck. There’s a very good chance Weeks is effectively done as a useful player; the chances of that being the case for Trumbo is a good deal lower.

  17. Woodcutta on June 4th, 2015 2:42 pm

    The two big issues I have with this trade is 1) Trumbo is essentially a poor man’s Adam Dunn (less HR’s and walks) but will play a lot of bad LF and 2) Guerrero was one of the few players the M’s have in minors that has a chance to be a good all-around OF at the major league level. Trading Guerrero may not be on the Adam Jones level, in terms of how bad the trade could turn out, but for a talent starved minor league system this could be another bad trade.

  18. marc w on June 4th, 2015 2:44 pm

    Let me say that I’m very sympathetic to wtnuke’s read of this trade. I think Zduriencik really thinks Trumbo is an offensive force, just like he thought Mike Morse was, and Corey Hart was, and Rickie Weeks is, etc. This utter fixation with right-handed power can become a real problem, and now they’ve given up talent for it instead of just committing dollars to it.

    But just as I think they didn’t get Welington Castillo with the *intention* of flipping him, something similar could happen in another month. That’s not exactly exonerating the decision making process here, but it’s a benefit.

    It’s an odd move to make, but the nice thing is that the stakes are relatively low – the odds of Gabriel Guerrero becoming a poor man’s version of his uncle are very remote, and Dom Leone was a garbage-time reliever in Seattle. Trumbo is a limited player, and those limits overlap with the team’s, which seems unfortunate. But the odds of this just blowing up in the M’s faces aren’t high at all.

    Franklin Gutierrez is hitting well in Tacoma, but has already missed time due to injury, and struggled when he’s needed to run hard (I think he had to come out of a game when he scored from first). His comeback is a great story, but his problems are not the kind you just rest and recover from. He will never, ever be “finally healthy” due to IBS and related maladies. His value would be as a bench bat, and I think the M’s bench is pretty full now with Trumbo on board. If the M’s use him at 1B/DH, like they’ve said, then either LoMo sits or Cruz is in RF. As Trumbo and Cruz are righties, it’s tough to see how Guti could get many at-bats. Guti is no longer a CF, either – he’s played LF/DH in AAA this year. Love, love, love the guy, but it’s hard to see a fit right now.

  19. heyoka on June 4th, 2015 3:09 pm

    I am confident this Block Buster Trade will get us one more win.

  20. currcoug on June 4th, 2015 4:00 pm
  21. Westside guy on June 4th, 2015 4:11 pm

    “Ruggiano gone…”

    So who the ***** plays center field if Jackson goes down again – Ackley?? Blech.

  22. ivan on June 4th, 2015 4:13 pm

    Cut Ruggiano and keep Weeks? I’m sorry, but that’s indefensible. That leaves them with Jackson and Ackley as the only two outfielders who can play even average defense, or who have even average speed on the bases. If Taylor was still here and Miller was still playing a utility role, it might make some sense. This makes none.

  23. currcoug on June 4th, 2015 4:31 pm

    Ruggiano hitting LHP well (.823 OPS), decent OBP overall (.321), and hot of late (.910 OPS last 37 AB’s).

  24. seattleslew on June 4th, 2015 4:32 pm

    It’s pointless to trade a potentially good outfielder, infielder, and a useful reliever for Trumbo and a useful reliever. There isn’t any evidence that Trumbo will actually benefit this team longterm. Get someone who can hit, catch, likes to walk and can run, damn it!

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
    – Jack

  25. mrakbaseball on June 4th, 2015 4:44 pm

    Tony Blengino’s loving life.

  26. Kazinski on June 4th, 2015 4:44 pm

    I think I am going to be physically sick.

    The only thing that could make the DFA of Ruggiano defensible is if Jack has already worked out a trade for him, but did not have time to complete it before he needed to bring Trumbo and Sucre on board.

  27. Paul B on June 4th, 2015 4:55 pm

    Yeah, a month from now Weeks will be hitting .150, and Ackley will still be Ackley. Then what will they do?

    This trade actually made sense until today. Turned 2 relievers and two minor leaguers into a starter and a marginal outfielder. But then also lost a real outfielder, that makes it a very bad deal indeed.

    The real losers were the Cubs. They got a marginal reliever for a backup catcher, when it turned out the Diamondbacks were desperate for said catcher.

  28. MrZDevotee on June 4th, 2015 5:30 pm

    So, I called the Ruggiano move yesterday, but to be clear, it wasn’t because I liked the idea. It just seemed like a “writing on the wall” moment. McClendon hardly ever used him, and for whatever reason he never really broke into any of the platoon situations. As soon as they decided that Cruz would play lots of RF, and Miller would get DH at-bats, Ruggiano somehow got lost on the bench.

    I’d rather have seen Weeks or Bloomquist let go, but Lloyd seems to have some special “he’s a consumate pro” fasciation with both.

    Funny thing is, I could see Ruggiano catching on as a cheap depth piece on a contending team, like a Giants or Cardinals, pretty easily. And actually playing well with some extended time on the field.

    C’est la Vie.

    (A secret part of me was hoping for the fantasy of Ackley being let go… Just “cut bait”. Of course that would never happen… But my frustration with watching him get worse instead of better is at a peak…)

  29. joser on June 4th, 2015 5:37 pm

    Ah. man, I just ordered my Welington Castillo M’s jersey. Guess I’ll hang it next to the Cliff Lee and Casper Wells ones.

    I think Zduriencik really thinks Trumbo is an offensive force, just like he thought Mike Morse was, and Corey Hart was, and Rickie Weeks is, etc. This utter fixation with right-handed power can become a real problem, and now they’ve given up talent for it instead of just committing dollars to it.

    It’s not just right-handed power; it’s power in general. Don’t forget his obsession with Carlos Peguero. I sometimes wonder if winning the lottery with Prince Fielder as a scout left some kind of permanent groove in Zduriencik’s skull from which is his brain is never able to fully free itself. “But,” the groove whispers, “What if…?”

    (Speaking of Peguero: remember a couple of weeks ago when he was the Rangers’ newest productive outfielder? Well, about that: a week later he got shipped off to the Red Sox to be that for them. That’s four organizations in two years, with plenty of time left this season for Boston to get tired and pass him along also. His Left-Handed Pop is a Great White Whale for GMs beyond Zduriencik, apparently; though to give Dayton Moore and Jon Daniels credit their patience in harpooning it is a lot shorter than Jack’s.)

  30. Woodcutta on June 4th, 2015 11:17 pm

    I don’t keep up with the M’s for one day and this happens. Soooooo looking forward to watching a Weeks/Ackley/Cruz OF when McClendon decides to “shake it up”.

  31. LongDistance on June 5th, 2015 8:38 am

    Frankly, all this is about as uplifting as a Chone Figgins bobblehead night.

    Go M’s.

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