Trumbo draws attention at Day 1 of Winter Meetings
Number of teams inquire about Angels slugger, with D-backs a realistic match
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Angels have been listening to inquiries for Mark Trumbo all offseason, but talks wouldn't move past the initial, exploratory phase because teams hadn't shown a willingness to give up the cost-controlled starting pitching general manager Jerry Dipoto seeks in return.
That may change in the Winter Meetings.
Trumbo's name was a popular one at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort on Monday, with MLB Network Insiders Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that Trumbo is "in play" and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com saying that up to 12 teams have expressed interest.
The most intriguing -- and perhaps the most logical fit -- may be the D-backs, who are looking at Trumbo as a corner outfielder and could appeal to the Angels by dangling pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Cahill, sources confirmed to MLB.com.
As reporters gathered in the hallway waiting for a scheduled media session with Dipoto, the Angels' GM walked by alongside D-backs GM Kevin Towers.
"Just friends talking," Dipoto cautioned.
An industry source said there's a "good chance" Trumbo is moved during the Winter Meetings. But the D-backs' interest level would change drastically if they pull of a surprising move by signing free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, and the Angels were engaged in lots of talks as Day 1 came to a close.
Dipoto nonetheless has a good working relationship with Towers, whom he worked under in 2011.
"We're an organization where I think if there are kind of elite or key trade pieces out there, I think we match up with just about anybody because of our depth -- middle infielders, center fielders, outfielders, pitching," Towers said.
Asked directly of talks with the D-backs at about 1 p.m. PT, Dipoto said: "Still trying to figure it out, like with a lot of teams."
The Angels remain open-minded in their hopes of addressing the two holes that reside in their starting rotation.
They could sign one free agent (Matt Garza still appears to be highest on their list) and make the final spot an open competition, leaving the rest of their team intact. They could sign two cheaper free agents with the $15 million or so remaining on their budget. Or they could do what has seemed most likely all along: Sign one free-agent starter and trade for another.
Dipoto "has a lot of balls in the air," one industry source said on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings.
"We're open to the trade market, we're open to free agency, we're open to any combination of the two," Dipoto said. "We know what our needs are -- they're pretty clearly defined -- and we're going to go out and fill them the best we can."
Second baseman Howie Kendrick continues to appear as the most likely offensive player to get traded, and the Angels have also been willing to part ways with a catcher -- Hank Conger or Chris Iannetta -- and a reliever -- Michael Kohn, Dane De La Rosa and Kevin Jepsen among them.
Dipoto has long been hesitant to trade Trumbo -- same with with shortstop Erick Aybar -- because he'd likely have to replace him via free agency.
Two things can change that, though …
1. Not being able to sign Garza, who is 30 years old, isn't tied to Draft-pick compensation, is from Southern California and has posted a 3.76 ERA while averaging 175 innings over the last six seasons. If the Angels can work something out with Garza, who had been high on their list, they'd be in good shape with a staff that also includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards.
If they can't, their options via free agency could drop considerably.
The Angels haven't shown a willingness to sign anyone tied to Draft-pick compensation, which eliminates Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. They've expressed interest in Bronson Arroyo, but are less willing to overpay for a 36-year-old. They aren't interested in Bartolo Colon, who is 40 years old and has a history of PED suspensions. A.J. Burnett has previously had trepidations about pitching on the West Coast. And Masahiro Tanaka, who is expected to be posted this week, remains a long shot.
Once you get past those guys, and Garza, you have to move on to the likes of Jason Hammel, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and Paul Maholm.
2. Getting suitable cost-controlled pitching in return -- and the D-backs may be a match in that sense.
The 22-year-old Skaggs -- 5.43 ERA in 13 Major League starts the past two years -- may be too much of a risk to take on straight-up. And top prospect Archie Bradley is essentially considered untouchable.
But Cahill has posted a 3.89 ERA while averaging 186 innings in his first five seasons and comes with up to four years of control -- making $19.7 million the next two years, with club options of $13 million and $13.5 million in 2016 and '17, respectively. Miley, whom the D-backs would seem less likely to give up, is still a year removed from arbitration and has gone 26-21 with a 3.44 ERA the last two years.
"We've been hit a fair amount on a number of our players, and particularly Mark," Dipoto said. "Mark's been a popular name, Howie's been a popular name, and there have been others. We've been asked in context about most of the players on our roster, which is not uncommon. It's very similar for a lot of other teams. But I would say there's been fairly heavy traffic on guys like Mark specifically."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.