On Wednesday, Jerry Dipoto traded slugger Mark Trumbo for the second time. As the GM of the Angels, Dipoto jettisoned Trumbo in December 2013, soon after signing superstar first baseman Albert Pujols. After dealing Trumbo roughly two months after taking over in Seattle, Dipoto wants it known that it’s nothing personal with Trumbo, just business.
“There’s no particular reason for it. When I called him, I actually told him not to take this the wrong way,” Dipoto said when asked by MLBTR on a conference call. “He’s a great guy, he brings a lot of skill to the table and it’s always difficult to trade right-handed power, but there are reasons for everything. The first time that I moved him, we needed pitching and we tapped into two young upside starters (Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago) that we needed at the time. I felt good about that trade and I feel good about this one, too. In this case, we’re bringing in a backup left-handed hitting catcher along with payroll and roster flexibility as we move into the hot stove portion of the offseason. I explained all of this to Mark. He’s going to an ideal place to hit but it just wasn’t an ideal fit for us on our side.”
As many outsiders picked up on, Dipoto indicated that Trumbo was moved in large part because of his projected $9.1MM salary for 2016. Unlike the last Trumbo trade, Dipoto isn’t moving Trumbo in order to eliminate redundancy in the lineup, and Dipoto himself isn’t sure how the first base position will be filled. Still, I asked the GM whether he would be more likely to fill that spot via free agency or trade.
“It’s tough to say. There’s still a lot of time between now and Opening Day. We’ve discussed a lot of trade candidates with various teams around the league and we’ve at least surveyed the free agent pool, but have not engaged [any available first basemen] at this point,” Dipoto said.
Of course, this year’s free agent crop includes Chris Davis, the man that Trumbo might wind up replacing in Baltimore. Dipoto’s comment would indicate that the Mariners have not reached out to Davis, though — as MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted this week — he may not be a logical match for Seattle anyway. Dipoto has made it known that he prefers the trade market to free agency and, as he revealed, that has been the only avenue explored thus far for first basemen. Seattle would also have to sacrifice the No. 11 overall pick to sign Davis, a player who could command a six-year, $144MM deal in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes.
Meanwhile, Dipoto seemed genuinely excited about the addition of catcher Steve Clevenger as a complementary piece that can fit in as a catcher, first baseman, or a designated hitter. Dipoto stopped short of guaranteeing anything for the out-of-options player, but it sounds like he has a role in mind for him. Clevenger’s versatility coupled with the signing of catcher Chris Iannetta also gives Seattle options when it comes to Mike Zunino. Seattle can now afford to let Zunino start the year in Triple-A Tacoma, but they could also carry all three players with Clevenger seeing time at first base. Still, Dipoto’s plan and preference is to have Zunino begin the year in Triple-A for additional seasoning.