Now that the Los Angeles Angels have swooped in out of nowhere and signed Josh Hamilton to a five year/$125 million dollar contract it’s reasonable to believe that Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo are back in play on the trade market. The Angels are still in need of a starting pitcher or two and are also still looking for upgrades to their bullpen. If the obviousness of all of that doesn’t give Baltimore Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette the kick in the pants to get on the phone and talk trade then I don’t know what will.
The real question we have to answer though is what exactly is Bourjos and Trumbo worth in trade, what would the Orioles have to give up in order to get one, or both, of them?
Figuring out the trade value that Bourjos holds is pretty easy, especially when all you have to do is look at what the Minnesota Twins received in exchange for Ben Revere. Now, there are a few slight differences between Revere’s situation with the Twins and Bourjos’s situation with the Angels, which would impact the value Bourjos has overall, but it’s nothing too major.
The Twins were able to turn Revere, an extreme speed-defense guy that ‘can’ play center field but has absolutely zero power to hit homeruns or hit for extra bases, into a 25 year old starting pitcher coming off of elbow surgery – Vance Worley – and a highly rated prospect from the Philadelphia Phillies farm system – Trevor May.
Worley is the type of arm, assuming he’s healthy and his elbow issues are a one-time thing, who projects to end up as a solid middle of the rotation pitcher but has the floor of a back end of the rotation guy. So, the worse that the Twins can do with Worley is essentially fitting him into the back end of their rotation – assuming his elbow doesn’t explode within the next year or two of course.
May was rated as the 69th best prospect in baseball before the 2012 season began and projects to be an above average starting pitcher, a back end of the rotation guy, but at worse could turn into a power arm out of the bullpen. He got his first taste of Double-A ball this past season and pitched 149.2 innings over 28 starts. He ended up with a 4.87 ERA with a 9.1 SO/9 rate but a 4.7 BB/9 rate, so his command is a bit of a concern. But he is just 23 years old and has already progressed to Double-A so clearly he’s doing something right.
Revere and Worley each have five years of team control left and are both at the same point in their arbitration clocks, so as far as money and team control are concerned it’s pretty much a wash between the two. The Phillies get a center fielder who ‘can’ hit atop the order while the Twins get a desperately needed starting pitcher, who should be ready to go by spring training.
It feels like the Phillies overpaid for Revere by throwing May into the deal but no off-season would be complete without their General Manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., making some sort of questionable decision whether it be with contract extensions (see Howard, Ryan) or trades.
Obviously the Angels will be looking at the package the Twins received for Revere and are clearly salivating at the chance to do the same with Bourjos…but not so fast.
Bourjos may be the better overall defender anywhere you put him in the outfield, but he’s done less with the at-bats he’s received in the big leagues on offense than Revere has done and as a result has not been able to take advantage of the speed he possesses on the base paths. Bourjos is also a year older than Revere, at 25 years old, and has just four years of team control left as he can be a free agent in 2016 as opposed to 2017 like Revere.
The flip side to that argument is that Bourjos has far more power potential, will hit for extra-bases and will come into his own offensively if given the opportunity. But that’s not how an opposing GM is going to tell it during negotiations and you better believe that any GM talking to the Angels about him will mention the one less year of team control.
Now, Mark Trumbo on the other hand is a pure power hitter – plain and simple. He’s 26 years old and is under team control for another four years, just like Bourjos. The biggest knocks on him are his low on-base skills (doesn’t walk much and strikes out fairly often) and while he’s an okay defender in the outfield, his permanent position will either end up being first base or designated hitter. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Trumbo on any team where a power hitter is needed but if I’m trying to trade for him then I’m going to mention these things to get him at the lowest cost possible.
The lowest cost possible probably isn’t going to be very likely when dealing with the Angels though, regardless of the fact that they don’t really have a spot in the field or in the lineup for either of these guys – not regularly anyway. But if the Orioles were to reach out to the Angels about both of these players, and it would be a smart move on their part to do just that, then any conversation I start with them would begin with the name Jim Johnson.
The Angels may have signed Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett and Joe Blanton, but they wouldn’t hesitate to try to acquire someone who would bring more of a guarantee to secure the victory in the ninth inning the way that Johnson did this past season. They also plan on using Blanton in the starting rotation, in the number four slot, and can’t really afford to put him in the bullpen. They are still looking for another starting pitcher to shore up the back end of their rotation and to that I would say the name Brian Matusz.
Of all the resources the Orioles have right now, it’s their pitching depth that could really be used to make this deal happen. As it stands, they have about five starting pitchers fighting for one spot in their own starting rotation and they have multiple internal candidates to take on Johnson’s role as closer if he were to be traded. It only makes sense to deal a starting pitcher and Johnson to shore up the other areas of concern on the roster – most notably the outfield and first base.
I’m not saying that Jim Johnson and Brian Matusz would actually get a deal done right away, a prospect would probably have to be included with them, but it would be a very strong starting point – one that would let the Angels know the Orioles are serious and they should really consider it. That’s the way you get a deal done in today’s market and it could actually work.