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Halos swap Trumbo for pitching in three-way deal
Halos swap Trumbo for pitching in three-way deal
By Alden Gonzalez
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jerry Dipoto finally got the cost-controlled starting pitching he coveted, but, as he said while on the dais with two other general managers at the Winter Meetings, "it didn't come without its element of pain."
In are Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago, two left-handers with options remaining and still in their pre-arbitration years. Gone is Mark Trumbo, a homegrown player and lifelong Angels fan who led the team in home runs each of the past three seasons.
It all came as part of a deal between the Angels, D-backs and White Sox, three teams that engaged in serious talks throughout Monday and had the framework of a deal done by Tuesday afternoon. The Angels received Skaggs and Santiago, the D-backs got Trumbo and two players to be named later (one each from the Angels and White Sox), and the White Sox got young, speedy center fielder Adam Eaton from Arizona.
"Moving Mark Trumbo was not an easy thing for us to do; we love the player and the person, and we'll miss him," Dipoto said. "But for us to be able to sink our teeth into a 25-year-old and 22-year-old lefty, to move forward is, we feel like, a very good move for our organization."
Winter Meetings Action
The Winter Meetings are under way in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The move means the Angels now have five Major League starters, with Santiago and Skaggs joining a rotation that includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards. It means second baseman Howie Kendrick, who has long been considered the most likely player to be dealt, won't be going anywhere. And it means there's a hole at designated hitter.
It doesn't mean they're done.
With the roughly $4 million the Angels saved in the trade -- Trumbo is slated to make around $5 million in his first year of arbitration, with Santiago and Skaggs making close to the minimum -- they now have roughly $20 million of wiggle room before hitting the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million. That's money they'll use to potentially add another free-agent starter (Matt Garza is still high on their list) and a bat to replace Trumbo (likely an affordable veteran who can play first base and/or the outfield corners).
Dipoto said the Angels will be "very aggressive with how we'll fill our pitching needs" and are confident they can make up for Trumbo's void, pointing to an offense that ranked fifth in the Majors in OPS last year despite getting 99 games from Albert Pujols and little production from Josh Hamilton.
"We're very comfortable with where we're at as an offensive team," Dipoto said. "I don't want to count Mark Trumbo as excess. Mark Trumbo is a valuable member of our team. But the idea that we can still go out there and put numbers up on the board offensively is something we all believe in."
Few people are more familiar with Skaggs than Dipoto. As the interim GM in Arizona 3 1/2 years ago, Dipoto acquired Skaggs, the 40th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, as the player to be named in the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels.
Asked what appealed to him about Skaggs, Dipoto quipped: "The same thing that appealed to me the last time we were able to acquire him, you know?"
Skaggs may still have some upside -- he showed some of it while posting a 2.87 ERA in 22 Minor League starts in 2012 -- but he has some warts. He has a 5.43 ERA in 13 Major League starts over the last two seasons, lost some velocity this year and is coming off a sluggish stint at the Pacific Coast League, with a 4.59 ERA, a 1.47 WHIP and a 2.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
But one scout who evaluates the National League West pointed to the fact that Skaggs is mostly a curveball-changeup guy, compared him to a young Jeff Francis, and believes he "has a good future."
"Not quite ready," the scout added, "but still young."
Dipoto said the velocity drop came only late in the year, when most guys are tired, and believes he found a very fixable mechanical flaw: He started inadvertently shortening his stride towards home plate when throwing his changeup, which has led to his stuff diminishing.
In short, he should still be getting better.
"Tyler's young," Dipoto said. "We can grow up with Tyler, feel like he's ready to cut his teeth in the big leagues. He's had a cameo the last two years, and feel like now he's ready for a full-time role."
Santiago, 25, has been jerked around in the White Sox organization since being taken in the 30th round in 2006. As a rookie in 2012, he posted a 3.33 ERA with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 42 games (four starts). In 2013, he had a 3.59 ERA in 23 starts and a 3.93 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the White Sox this past season.
His fastball is in the low 90s as a starter and can jump to 97 mph in the bullpen, but his trademark pitch has been a screwball.
The most likely scenario at this point is that Skaggs is in the rotation -- along with a free agent to be signed later -- and Santiago is in a more versatile role, as a potential swing man or Triple-A starting pitcher.
"I'm really comfortable in doing that," Santiago said of bouncing around. "I've done it all the time, through high school and college and Minor League Baseball and the big leagues. It's gotten to a point where it's normal for me."
D-backs GM Kevin Towers said Trumbo "has a chance to hit 40 home runs in our park." Told in a phone conversation that he'll be leaving the marine layer of Angel Stadium, Trumbo said: "I did smile when I thought about that."
Trumbo spent most of the day tracking reports of his eventual trade via Twitter, and left it all feeling a little bittersweet.
He's looking forward to hitting behind Paul Goldschmidt, believes it'll be nice to have his own position for a change (left field) and admitted that if he was going to get traded, this was an ideal situation.
But Trumbo used to watch games from the right-field bleachers at Angel Stadium as a boy. He admired Tim Salmon. And he lived out a fantasy when he was drafted by them in 2004, building himself from a raw, 18th-round former pitcher to one of the premier power hitters in the game.
Trumbo certainly has his flaws -- he's streaky, strikes out a lot and doesn't get on base often enough -- but he's hit 95 homers, driven in 282 runs and provided a .773 OPS over the last three seasons, all while serving as a critical clubhouse component with whom the Angels did not want to part ways.
Eventually, though, he became their best avenue to acquire cost-controlled pitching.
And in the end, Trumbo understood that.
"I'm a lifelong Angels fan," Trumbo said. "All my memories as a kid revolve around the Angels, and as a pro, I spent 10 years with the organization. It's all you ever know and these are the friends you meet. But you also understand as a player that these things are part of the game, and where the Angels stood, there were some holes that they needed to fill and only a few possible options as far as how they were going to do that. For me, looking at that situation, it's almost painfully obvious that either myself or Howie were the ones who were going to bring back what the team needed."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.