Former GM: Mark Trumbo makes Mariners better but has limitations

Jun 4, 2015, 11:31 AM | Updated: 11:56 am
The Mariners acquired right-handed slugger Mark Trumbo in a six-player trade with Arizona. (AP)

The Mariners may not ultimately win the deal, but Mark Trumbo will help them win games.

That’s the boiled-down version of what former MLB general manager Jim Bowden said Thursday when he joined “Brock and Salk” to assess the six-player trade in which the Mariners acquired Trumbo from the Diamondbacks. The package Seattle sent to Arizona included Gabriel Guerrero, an outfield prospect who in Bowden’s view has the potential to ultimately tip the scales in favor of Arizona. But he believes the Mariners made the right move nonetheless.

“I liked it from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ prospective long-term because I’m a Gabby Guerrero fan and I think he is going to put it together and hit and hit for power. I think he has a chance to be an All-Star-caliber player. So from that prospective long-term I like it for Arizona,” he said, “but that being said, I think Seattle did what they had to do to try to salvage this season and going forward. It’s not about winning or losing a trade; it’s about making deals that make your team better and give you a better chance to win, and this deal gives the Mariners a better chance to win. So I like it for that.”

Where Trumbo makes the Mariners better is with his power. He averaged just under 32 home runs a season from 2011 to 2013 before hitting 14 in 88 games last year. But as Bowden noted, Trumbo comes with some of the familiar flaws of power hitters.

“The player’s going to hit you 30 homers, going to drive in 100, that’s what he is,” Bowden said. “He’s going to have a low on-base percentage. He’s going to get on 30 percent of the time – that’s not probably going to change – and he’s going to strike out a lot. That’s part of his game. He’s got tremendous power.”

While Trumbo doesn’t figure to help the Mariners much with their .297 on-base percentage – which ranks 28th in MLB this season and is right around his career mark of .298 – Bowden believes he’ll bring some much-needed balance to Seattle’s lineup.

“They needed more right-handed power,” he said. “(Nelson) Cruz can’t do it by himself. The lineup was too left-handed and they had to find better balance if they’re going to win. Trumbo does that. He lengthens the lineup, he gives you power.”

As for where exactly Trumbo fits into that lineup, Bowden sees him hitting sixth behind the three-four-five trio of Robinson Cano, Cruz and Kyle Seager.

“That’s a good lineup, four in a row,” Bowden said. “He will hit you that three-run homer to help you win games. The reason he’s not a four- or five-hole hitter – and we talked about the on-base percentage – is that good pitching can get him out. You can get a situation with a man at third and one out and I can punch him out. I can strike him out if I have the right pitcher on the mound that can execute.”

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told “Danny, Dave and Moore” that Trumbo will likely play “all over the place” for Seattle, namely first base, designated hitter and the corner outfield spots. Bowden, though, stated matter-of-factly that Trumbo is too limited defensively play in the outfield.

“He’s a first baseman or a DH,” Bowden said. “So I’m going to be fascinated to see where the Mariners end up playing him, but I’m hoping that it’s first base or DH because I think if he settles in at one position that he’s comfortable and decent at, I think you have a chance to maximize the return.”

Another reason Bowden likes the trade is the timing. He said it made no sense for the Mariners – who are 24-29 entering Thursday’s game – to wait until the trade deadline to make a move because at that point they’d only have two months to climb out of the hole they’ve dug themselves. He said the next move for Zduriencik should be to acquire a player who can either get on base and/or steal one. But he believes the Trumbo trade is a good first step toward securing a playoff spot that is very much in reach.

“I think it was a trade that is going to help them win,” he said. “They may not win the deal, but for the team, the team is much better with this trade.”

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Former GM: Mark Trumbo makes Mariners better but has limitations