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Three-team trade sends Trumbo to D-backs, pitchers to Angels

Jeff Gross

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Here's a great bit of trivia and hardly something you're going to see every day: The Angels just traded the player who led them in home runs in each of the last three seasons.

Granted, Trumbo was never supposed to do that. This year, it was supposed to be Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton. But that pair combined for 38 homers, and Trumbo hit 34 all by himself. Last year, it was supposed to be Pujols. But Trumbo out-homered him, 32-30. And the year before that, it was supposed to be Vernon Wells. But Trumbo out-homered him 29-25 and finished second for Rookie of the Year. Over the last three seasons, three right-handed hitters in all the major leagues have more homers than Trumbo: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, and Adrian Beltre.

So why have the Angels seemed so eager to trade Trumbo? Because a) he's not actually a great baseball player, and b) they need pitching.

About that first part, the home runs are lovely but they don't come with much else. Over those same three seasons, Trumbo's on-base percentage is .300 on the nose. He's not terribly slow, but his baserunning might be characterized as fair, at best. He's a liability in the field, whether playing first base or one of the corner outfielder spots. He's a right-handed bat, and 50 years ago he would have been a platoon first baseman. But that job doesn't exist any more and the Diamondbacks already have a first baseman, so Trumbo's an every-day left fielder. Apparently they didn't learn their lesson from Jason Kubel.

The Angels are getting their pitching, but it's sketchy. Tyler Skaggs seems to have lost a couple of miles off his fastball, and nobody's sure where to find it. At 22, he's still valuable but his prospect status took a big hit this year. Hector Santiago is mostly notable because he's essentially the only living practitioner of the screwball in captivity. But he's done nothing in the majors to make anyone think he'll ever be better than average as a starter in the majors.

Meanwhile, Skaggs isn't the only ex-Diamondback trying to forget a rough 2013. In 2012, Adam Eaton batted .381 with all the goodies in Triple-A Reno. But this season, he suffered from an elbow injury, a bad case of the hives, and didn't play well when he did play. But now he's the White Sox' every-day center fielder.

Essentially, the Diamondbacks have traded two players who might be good, or really good, for a player who's already exactly what he's going to be. The White Sox are getting one of those players who might be good, and the Angels are getting a couple of pitchers who will probably be decent. It's hard to pick a winner, because everybody was looking for something different, and seems to have gotten those things. But I can't help thinking the Diamondbacks will soon tire of Trumbo's strikeouts and his defense.