Josh Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to the tune of 5-years, $125 Million. The move gives the Angels another power bat for the middle of their lineup. What it also does, is give them a glut of outfielders. The first rumors to swirl said that Mark Trumbo, their left fielder in 2012, is now expendable.
What the Angels still need, many opine, is starting pitching. The Mets have some of that they’re willing to move, notably one Robert Allan Dickey. Am I proposing that Dickey / Trumbo is a fair trade? Likely not. I personally doubt either team would be willing to make that trade straight-up. That said, this is all speculation here. so let’s pretend, for a moment, that Alderson pulls that trigger. The next question is, what does that do for the Mets?
Well, let’s take a look:
On offense, Trumbo would give the Mets two things they lack: a right handed outfielder, and a legitimate power bat (for the record, ESPN’s park factors consider Angel Stadium less hitter-friendly than Citi Field). The effects of this extend throughout the lineup. Were no other moves to be made, the opening day lineup would likely be:
September 30, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Mark Trumbo (44) hits a two run homer against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
While that’s not a lineup that would blow you away, there is a solid 80-100 home runs in the 3-5 spots. It also allows them to push players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Josh Thole further down the lineup. What it also does, is it allows the Mets to spend money on a right-handed outfielder to platoon in center or right. Someone like, say, Scott Hairston. Having a viable everyday left fielder would allow the Mets to best utilize Hairston’s ability to “mash lefties” by platooning him with Nieuwenhuis and/or Mike Baxter.
[Fun fact: In 2012, Scott Hairston and Mike Baxter’s combined platoon splits produced an OPS of 0.842 — exactly the same as ex-Met Carlos Beltran!]
Were the Mets to resign Hairston, that would then produce a lineup of:
May 25, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Mike Baxter (23) doubles to center against the San Diego Padres during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Oct. 3, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Scott Hairston (12) at bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. The Mets won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Baxston (Baxter / Hairston)
in which the 3-6 hitters could all post an OPS above .800 (by comparison, only Wright and Hairston had an OPS exceeding .800 in 2012). It also provides flexibility in the lineup, as the Mets would effectively have 2 right-handed bats, a left-handed bat, and a switch hitter, all of whom able to hit for power, in the middle of their lineup.Beyond that, Trumbo’s ability to play first base effectively makes a player like Lucas Duda expendable. While he’s not guaranteed to fetch a bounty, Duda’s power potential could make him attractive to a team like the Houston Astros, who have no likely designated hitter now that they’ve joined the American League West. With some savvy, Duda could possibly be the centerpiece in a package for a Houston reliever like Wilton Lopez. Though adding one quality reliever won’t turn the bullpen around, it could at least make them less of a liability. The Mets already have quality bullpen arms in Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner and Josh Edgin, and others with potential like Jeurys Familia and Robert Carson. Such a group could make a strong push at league-average, and in a best case scenario could be on the lower end of the upper half.Though the rotation would be weakened by Dickey’s loss, they would still have four strong starting pitchers in Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, and Dillon Gee. Though the Mets are averse to rushing top prospect Zack Wheeler, they do have a group of capable stop-gap starters in Hefner, Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh, the latter two of whom carry more than a glimmer of upside.
In short, though the trade is unlikely, and though it involves trading away the reigning Cy Young winner, acquiring Mark Trumbo would be exactly the type of impact move Sandy Alderson has discussed making. By adding a young impact bat in the outfield, it allows the Mets to make minor moves to shore up the roster behind their cornerstone players. By adding a strength, they could also close one or two other weaknesses. And those are the ripple effects that allow teams to take the next step.