Should Rays Pursue Angels Other First Basemen?
Now that the Angels have put themselves on the map with their signing of Albert Pujols, it makes you wonder what they will do with their other two first basemen, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales. Both are more than respectable, with Trumbo finishing second to Jeremy Hellickson in Rookie of the Year voting and Morales being a great hitter, even if he is coming off a couple of big injuries. There is talk that the Angels will move Trumbo to third and non-tender Morales, in which case Morales could be had without giving up anything.
Both could be the first baseman the Rays have needed for a long time. Trumbo would be harder to get, seeing as he is only 25 years old and coming off a great rookie campaign. The Angels are in search of a fifth starter, so could be looking for a package including Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann. It would take more than just one of those two, but the Rays have the farm system to make the deal work.
Trumbo had to step into the starting role last season after Morales got hurt for the second straight season. In 149 games, Trumbo hit .254 with 29 homers, certainly impressive for a rookie. Since he is so young, he is only gonna get better from here. Trumbo would be a great power bat to hit fourth in the Rays order behind Evan Longoria and could be around for a long time.
Trumbo also had a decent glove, making 10 errors and collecting a .993 fielding percentage all season. Not too bad, but not as good as what the Rays have had in recent seasons. Trumbo will most likely remain with the Angels, either being moved to third, outfield or DH. I’m sure the Rays are still calling trying to take Trumbo off the Angels hands since he now cannot play first since Pujols is locked up for 10 years.
Morales, unlike Trumbo, would most likely be easy to acquire, whether through trade or signing him if he is non-tendered. Morales would be risky, since he is coming off two season-ending injuries, but before the injuries he showed a better all-around bat than Trumbo. Morales is still young at 28 and would be a great pick-up for the Rays if he returns to anywhere near his previous production.
In his first full season as the Angels starter in 2009 Morales hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs. He was one of the better bats in the game that year, finishing fifth in the MVP voting. To prove it was not a fluke, he got off to a great start in 2010 before his famous post-game celebration season-ending injury. Through 51 games he was hitting .290 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs. Morales is a switch-hitter, which is a huge plus. He does hit better as a lefty, but it is still an added bonus that he can hit from both sides.
Morales is also a better defender than Trumbo, collecting only 8 errrors in 2009 for a .994 fielding percentage. He had made only 2 errors before his injury in 2010. Morales is projected to make only $3 million next year, certainly well within the Rays budget. The Rays have had success in recent years taking risks, as shown by Casey Kotchman, Juan Cruz, and Joaquin Benoit. If the Rays were to get this deal done and it pays off, the Rays would have one of the better first basemen in baseball when he is at full-strength.
In the end, both Trumbo and Morales would be great options for the Rays. Trumbo is a more sure-thing, but the Rays would have to give up a lot more to get him. Morales could probably be had for a prospect or Niemann or Davis straight up, if that much. Morales is a risk since he hasn’t played since the beginning of 2010, but he is still young and the bat he showed before the injuries should be enough for the Rays to pull the trigger on the deal. My preference would be Morales, since he would be cheaper to get and showed a better bat, but of course either would be great options for the Rays first base opening.