Some look at a glass and says it’s half-filled or half-empty.
In the case of Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers, he arrived at the baseball Winter Meetings this week with essentially two priorities. First, he sought a power-hitting outfielder and a starting pitcher.
After acquiring power-hitting outfielder Mark Trumbo late Tuesday from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as part of a three team deal, Towers can look at his glass as either half-filled or half-empty.
With Trumbo in his back pocket, Towers now appears ready to deal for that pitcher and possibly fill his glass to the top.
Yet, it appears that can wait because Towers may have trumped his own hand.
With a limited number of players who fit Towers’ criteria for a power bat, it looks like Towers robbed the old western bank and rode off into the sunset.
To obtain Trumbo, Towers essentially unloaded lefty Tyler Skaggs, a 22-year-old with potential but limited production and outfielder Adam Eaton, another player with strong potential but also with limitations.
In the end, Towers did not give much to acquire a player he so coveted.
Aside from picking up just a power bat, Towers now has a player to back-up Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the Diamondbacks’ line-up.
A significant off-season concern for Towers was adding protection for Goldschmidt.
After Goldschmidt hit .302, tied for the National League leadership in home runs (36), topping the league in RBIs and named the Hank Aaron Award for the most outstanding hitter in the NL, the fear remains opposing pitchers will clearly pitch around.
Manager Kirk Gibson likes to hit Goldschmidt third and that would place Trumbo in the clean-up spot. With a career 95 home runs and 284 RBIs in just over three seasons with the Angels, Trumbo’s bat will clearly complement Goldschmidt.
“We’ll have to see how things work out,” Trumbo said Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with reporters. “I’m a huge fan of Paul and looks like we’ll have a great line-up. I’m happy to be part of this.”
Though he was essentially a first baseman for Mike Scioscia, Trumbo will settle in left field. Bouncing between the infield and outfield for the Halos, Trumbo said, “I never had a position to call my own.”
Now, he’ll be penciled in as the leftfielder with A. J. Pollock in center and Gerardo Parra in right.
For his part, Trumbo indicated the biggest adjustment is not to full-time duty in the gardens but adjusting to a new set of pitchers in the National League.
“I’ve faced National League teams in inter-league play so coming over here is not totally foreign,” he said. “The biggest transition is to learn arms. For me, there are new guys over here and I need to do homework.”
A native of Anaheim, Trumbo was considered the hometown prospect which made it big. Now in a new setting, the duo of Goldschmidt and Trumbo could set the tone for a competitive season.
“The Diamondbacks made a big commitment to bring me over here,” Trumbo added. “Look, I’m been rumored to go for a few years and I’m thankful to the Angels for the opportunity. I could not ask for anything more from the organization.”
Yet, Trumbo comes with baggage.
Out of the gate, there are two concerns.
First, Trumbo does not hit for average.
Coming into the 2014 season, he has a career .250 batting average and hit only .234 last season.
Plus, he has a penchant for striking out. Over the last three seasons, he’s fanned 465 times in 1,853 times at the plate. That’s an average of one strikeout every 3.9 at-bats or about one per game for a four at-bat game.
Plus, his ability to play leftfield will be scrutinized.
If Trumbo fails in left field, the Diamondbacks could be out of options. At 6-4, 235 pounds, Trumbo played first for the Angels and that’s after Albert Pujols went down last season. With Goldschmidt locked at first for Arizona, Trumbo will have to produce defensively or likely sit.
With the acquisition of Trumbo, the Diamondbacks sent Skaggs to the Angels, where the 22-year-old is expected to gain a spot in the rotation. That represents a full circle for the native of Woodland Hills, Calif, who was dealt to Arizona from the Angels on Aug. 7, 2010 with Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin for Dan Haren.
As part of the three-team deal Tuesday, the Diamondbacks sent Adam Eaton to the Chicago White Sox, where he expected to play centerfield and lead-off.
That was exactly Arizona’s expectation for Easton last spring. During the second week of spring workouts at Salt River, Eaton injured his left arm in a throwing drill, and did not return until the All-Star break.
By that time, Pollock stepped into the line-up and solidified his stature as the D-backs everyday centerfielder. When Eaton returned, his defensive skills at the major league came into questioning and, in the end, Towers settled on Pollack as his centerfielder.
To complete the deal Tuesday, left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago moves from the White Sox to the Angels. In addition, the Diamondbacks receive cash or a player-to-be-named later from each the Angels and White Sox.