Mailbag: Mark Trumbo & Shaun Marcum

Yankees agree to sign Bobby Wilson to minor league contract
Update: Yankees to re-sign Ichiro Suzuki

I’ve only got two questions for you this week, but they’re good ones and the answers are kinda long. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything through the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Many asked: What about Mark Trumbo?

As soon as the Angels agreed to sign Josh Hamilton, everyone kinda assumed they would then turn around and trade one of their spare outfielders for a starting pitcher (like R.A. Dickey). Mike Trout obviously isn’t going anywhere and Vernon Wells is useless, so that leaves Peter Bourjos (a no-hit, all-glove center fielder) and Trumbo. Buster Olney reported yesterday that the Halos will hang on to the young slugger, but that’s something they would say even if they intend to trade him.

Trumbo, 27 next month, hit .268/.317/.491 (122 wRC+) with 32 homers this season. He was absolutely terrible after May, hitting just .237/.285/.434 in his final 417 plate appearances and .202/.246/.293 in his final 211 plate appearances. Things got so bad that he was regularly benched in favor of Wells down the stretch. Trumbo is a .259/.302/.478 (113 wRC+) career hitter who doesn’t walk (5.3 K%) and will strike out a bunch (23.9 K%). He’s also a disaster in the outfield since his regular position is first base. Pretty much all he does is hit homers, that’s it. If you’re only going to have one tool, that’s a good one to have.

Power, especially from the right side, is hard enough to come by that Trumbo has a lot of value. He’ll get pretty expensive through arbitration soon (eligible in 2014) because homers pay, though he could be a non-tender candidate within two seasons. Any team who wanted Trumbo could have just signed Mark Reynolds, who is only two years older and offers the same big power but will also take a walk. If the Angels do trade any of their young outfielders, they figure to seek a high-end starting pitcher in return and the Yankees just don’t have that to offer. They match up better with the Nationals, who could dangle a similar player to Trumbo (Mike Morse) if they re-sign Adam LaRoche.

(Jeffrey Phelps/Getty)

Jed asks: I realize that the Yankees’ rotation is pretty much set, but don’t you think that Shaun Marcum could be had for a pretty reasonable price? With such big question marks for Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes … seems like it might be a good idea. Marcum has been pretty solid for a while – I don’t understand the apparent non-interest across the league.

I’ve been an irrationally big Marcum fan for years, and a few weeks ago I wrote that the Yankees should not stop looking for rotation help just because they re-signed Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. Signing a pitcher like Marcum to a one-year, prove yourself contract to round out the rotation — bumping Nova and David Phelps into the sixth and seventh starter roles — seems like a great idea if the team is willing to spend the money.

Marcum, who turns 31 today, pitched to a 3.70 ERA (4.10 FIP) in 124 innings for the Brewers last season while missing more than two months with an elbow strain. He managed 190+ innings in both 2010 and 2011 after missing 2009 with Tommy John surgery. Marcum has posted solid strikeout (7.48 K/9 and 20.1 K%) and walk (2.44 BB/9 and 6.6 BB%) rates since returning from elbow surgery, but he’s a big time fly ball pitcher (37.3% grounders) who will surrender the long ball (1.07 HR/9 and 9.5 HR/FB%). He has AL East experience after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Blue Jays.

I like Marcum mostly because he’s a total bulldog and extremely aggressive on the mound. His fastball lives in the mid-to-high-80s and he’ll shove it down a lineup’s throat all night long. As Keith Law wrote in his Top 50 Free Agents write-up (subs. req’d), Marcum “goes after hitters like they kicked his dog.” A knockout upper-70s/low-80s changeup is his bread-and-butter pitch, and he’ll throw sliders and curveballs while also sinking and cutting the fastball. His margin for error is quite small given the fringy fastball, obviously.

Brandon McCarthy, who has had at least one arm-related DL stint in each of the last six years and has only twice eclipsed 100 innings in a season, managed to get two guaranteed years as a free agent this winter. I have a hard time thinking Marcum will take a one-year deal to serve as New York’s fifth starter when other clubs will probably offer more opportunity. He grew up in Kansas City and I suppose the Royals could try to make him the final piece of their rebuild rotation, for example. I’d love to see the Yankees sign him for the back of the rotation, which would theoretically free them up to use Nova or Phelps in a trade. I just don’t see it happening.

Yankees agree to sign Bobby Wilson to minor league contract
Update: Yankees to re-sign Ichiro Suzuki
  • Robinson Tilapia

    No to Trumbo, and I’ve shared your Marcum man-crush for a long time now. Being that you’ll need that sixth starter at some point early, I’d be game.

    Nova would have to go to AAA, to me, though. I can’t see him reverting back to what we’ve seen him be without a start every five days. Phelps, in his limited time, seemed to fit the swing man role better.

    • Jonathan

      I like Marcum too. I saw him in the game below in 2008 and i was behind the plate and couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t getting killed. He threw like 85-90 and since i was behind the plate i couldn’t see the changeup drop as the umpire blocked it. Gave up 1 XBH to Hosmer in 7.2 and really looked dominating besides the loss and HR. The Angels should be all over him with that big OF and defense…ask Weaver…They need pitching and have a team that should compete and has money plus the OF size and defense. Seems like a perfect fit.

    • jjyank

      Agreed. I wouldn’t mind Trumbo, but not at the price he will recquire. I’m all for Marcum is he’ll take a 1 year deal.

      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        Wait, don’t we need a right handed bat? Wouldn’t this make an awesome DH and platooned OF in Trumbo?

        • Mandy Stankiewicz

          Oh, I just read the rest of the article…

          • jjyank

            Yeah. I like Trumbo for that role, but like Mike said, signing Reynolds would have been way better than giving up prospects for Trumbo. So, pass.

            • MannyGeee

              Here’s where I disagree with yourself and Mike. While Reynolds and Trumbo are the same guy at the dish, Reynolds is a hack at 3B, and Trumbo is slightly less hacky in the OF.

              That said, I would not trade for him, I would be aklot happier getting him next winter as a non-tender.

              • jjyank

                I agree with that, but I’m factoring in cost in my rationale. Reynolds was just money, and Trumbo is prospects. His ability to stand in the OF isn’t worth the prospects he would cost (as opposed to Reynolds’ no-prospects cost) to me.

    • jerseyguy916

      Other than MLB experience, I don’t see much difference between Marcum and Scranton prospect Adam Warren. Except, of course, the price tag. If Yanks need that extra starter–and history shows us they probably will–I’d rather run Warren out there for the major league minimum. Yanks could always consider bringing back Derek Lowe, who pitched well in pinstripes.

      • Ted Nelson

        I’m not on favor of signing Marcum, but I see a lot of difference between he and Warren.

  • http://Tab Aly

    Rather than trading for Trumbo, I’d much rather see the Yankees trade a low level prospect for Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs. Cubs will pay 26 of the 36 million left on his contract. We get a right hand hitting power hitter for 5 million per for 2 years. That would give our own prospects more time to develop before being brought up to the majors.

    • MannyGeee

      for every reason mentioned over the past week of this rumor, I would say no. (expensive, AAV, celery caps, etc)

      Also, Soriano was striking out all over the place in October before Swisher and Granderson made it cool. You guys would have an absolute coronary if he did that stuff this October.

      • Ted Nelson

        The Cubs are reportedly willing to pay all but $10 million, spread over 2 years. That would put his luxury tax # at $5 million for 2014 and zero for 2015. It’s not nothing, but if you’re bullish on Soriano it’s not that much.

        • boo

          But they probably would want something in return.

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah, I have no idea how much.

  • Blake

    I like Morse better than Trumbo just on field…. I think he’s a little more balanced as a hitter and maybe a little better defensively (both are bad though).

    Morse isn’t controlled as long though and costs more $$….which might also mean he’d be cheaper in players to aquire…..he hits RHP well enough to be a primary DH and could fake RF in YS well enough to spell Ichiro vs LHP most likely

    If the Nats sign Laroche and would do a Morse for Nova or Phelps deal the. Id probably think about it…..

    • MannyGeee

      Imma guess Morse will be a little more than just Nova.

      That said, I would be OK with it.

    • Ted Nelson

      I would rather have Nova or Phelps than Morse, personally.

  • Gerald Williams

    Morse and Marcum please!

  • Mister D

    Doesn’t Marcum have a history with his shoulder too?

    • MikeD

      They dated for a while back in 2007 but I think they are friends now.

      • MannyGeee

        I see what you did there.

      • Mister D

        I think they dated last spring training too.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Which is why, while I like him, I may only take him home on a one-season stand. Wham bam thank you Shawn.

          • MannyGeee

            but don’t all these one season stands make you feel dirty? Don’t you think you deserve better? Something a little more stable than these old, broken, sweaty, and potentially drug abusing trotting in and out of your rotation every spring?

            Show some self respect.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              They need love too.

            • YanksFanInBeantown

              Why not? I’ll just leave them a gift basket with my autograph.

    • trr


  • j

    A) If we went with Soriano, we could pay all ten million up front and keep with the 189 plan.
    Cubs would pick up his entire salary in 14.
    B) I’d be more interested in Burjos than Trumbo. Better D, right handed power, buy low candidate.
    C) Any interest in the Cuban OF and SS that are coming over? Young talent that could be cheap replacements for Grandy and Cano. (Cheaper than regular FA)

    • Bob Buttons

      A) Again, AAV. Average Annual Value. They don’t care how much you pay in one year and in the other. They take the entire contract and divide it by number of years on contract.

      B) Bourjos and power never equates. He isn’t that cheap either.

      C) There’s an international cap for the “young talent” that could cost us draft picks instead of just FA costing us money. (Wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Steinbrothers don’t care)

      • Ted Nelson

        Totally agree on the first two, on the third one, though, veteran players aren’t subject to the spending limit.

        • Bob Buttons

          I knew that, but I was assuming that “young talent that could be cheap replacements” means bunch of 16~20 year olds, since I have no idea who the Cuban OF and SS are.

      • Ed

        On the AAV, that Soriano thing actually works. The AAV of the contract is what is what is used when calculating the luxury tax. However, money exchanged between teams is counted in the year the money changes hands.

    • the tenth inning stretch

      Bourjos has virtually no right-handed power. He doesn’t even hit for right-handed average. He’s all-defense, albeit with great speed.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I swear no one ever knows these Cuban guys’ names. It could be me, for all I know.

      • MannyGeee

        You know… Jose Lopez and Juan… um Juan Tomatepaste. Yeah, them two.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I almost choked on my sandwich. Damn you.

  • Kosmo

    Kendry Morales rather than Trumbo. He´s a FA next year and very cost effective.
    I like Marcum on a 2 year deal. It would open up an opportunity for NY to trade Nova.

    • Blake

      Morales can’t hit lefties at all though and that’s where they are really weak right now….they need a RH bat bad

      • G

        I’m not totally getting this “can’t hit lefties thing”:

        Jeter R (career 147 wRC+ vs. RHP)
        Youkilis R (145 wRC+)
        Cano L (109 wRC+, albeit with a decline last year)
        Teixeira S (142 wRC+)
        Granderson L (85, but 104 wRC+ last year)
        Nuñez R (135 wRC+, small sample size,
        Romine R, no stats, or Francisco Cervelli (125 wRC+, SSS)
        Ichiro L (115 wRC+, 80 last year more accurate because of age)
        Gardner L (94 wRC+)

        While some of those numbers are certainly inflated by prime years, guys like Jeter and Youk still had 135 wRC+s against lefties last year, while Granderson, even in a drop off year, hit 19 above his career average. All told, we’d certainly be looking at an above average offense with a particularly dangerous top of the order. Of course, I’d definitely like to see a lefty masher like Hairston brought in to replace Gardner or Ichiro against lefties; the added power would be huge. However, the foundation for a lefty hitting lineup is definitely there. If A-Rod can come back hitting lefties anything like he did last year (152 wRC+), the lineup will get particularly scary with the addition of him mid-season.

        It’s imperfect, and as I said, a righty 4th OF is vital, but it’s certainly not weak against lefties.

      • Mike

        They can platoon Youk with Morales at DH.

  • Blake

    If the Yanks could sign AJP and maybe trade for morse then they’d be pretty good in 2013 barring big injuries….

    It’s just beyond 2013 where it’s tough to see any sort of plan….

    • Bob Buttons

      Problem is Pierzynski sucks and Morse don’t come cheap, and we aren’t in the position to give up young impact prospects.

    • Ted Nelson

      Not sure either of those players would contribute much.

  • pounder

    We’re doomed I tell Ya, doomed!

    • GMC

      Oh! The humanity of it all!

  • LitFig

    I would rather the Yanks let Nova and Phelps pitch than sign another veteran like Marcum.

    The tax-cap is real. We are going to have to get by with a little less spending than we’re accustomed to. With Andy, Kuroda and Hughes all free agents after the coming season, as well as the need to sign position players, developing young pitching is the way to go. Sometimes there are bumps in the road, but that’s the path you have to take in order to keep costs down and create less uncertainty.

    Yankee fans say “Look at how much they spend on payroll”, then clamor for $7 million dollar 5th starters and $4 million dollar 6th inning relievers. Insanity sometimes.

    BTW: Did Chris Dickerson flirt with a Yankee executive’s wife at the X-Mas party or something? It seems like they’d rather anyone above him. I don’t think he’s great by any stretch, but do you think Ichiro is THAT much better than him, especially for that salary? Use the money and sign a righty OFer, and let Dickerson, Grandy and Gardner roam the OF.

  • jimmyviz

    Signing Carlos Villanueva from the Jays at 2 yrs 6mil would do the trick and provide some versatility and a healthy arm to the staff. Also take a look at the kid previously with the Pods Hermida as either platoon or Triple A help was a highly touted prospect.

    • Bob Buttons

      Not sure why we need a 3M a year long man when we got Phelps/Nova and other guys.

      Also, Hermida bats lefty, and I might be wrong, but he hasn’t been anything but drifter since 07.

  • jimmyviz

    Also they should have dangled Joba and Nuni to the Pirates for their third baseman Alvarez-low cost, big future.

    • Mike Axisa

      Explain to me why the Pirates would consider that.

      • jimmyviz

        Alright I will throw in Hughes

        • vin

          They’ll need a 3B, maybe you should throw in ARod.

          • jimmyviz

            Let Nuni scare the fans along the first base line with his throws from third

  • The Big City of Dreams

    I want Trumbo just to hear Sterling come up with a HR call.

  • Ted Nelson

    I would rather roll with Nova and Phelps than sign Marcum. I’m not against making young guys earn their spot or adding depth, but I just don’t think the benefit of Marcum over those two is worth the cost.

  • Howard of the Bronx

    bring back alphonso soriano for RH DH power. proven in the clutch,not to expensive if Cubs cooperate.

  • Schotty

    Viciedo and Thornton for Granderson, Nova and Warren… Who hangs up??