Boston Red Sox free agent targets: Mark Trumbo
The BoSox Injection staff looks at players available on the free agent market that the Boston Red Sox may have interest in this offseason.
The Boston Red Sox made tremendous progress in 2016, climbing out of the basement of the division to win the AL East. This worst-to-first turnaround can partially be attributed to moves that the front office made last winter to upgrade the roster, but the team’s early playoff exit shows us that further upgrades are needed.
There will be holes to fill on this Red Sox roster if the team intends to take the next step toward the ultimate goal of a championship. While there are many avenues the team can take to improve, free agency will be a primary focus for a Red Sox team willing to spend.
Clearly, one of the most obvious questions this offseason will be how Dave Dombrowski and the Sox front office address the loss of David Ortiz. His retirement creates a mega hole in the middle of their lineup.
They will never be able to replace the personality or the leadership qualities of Big Papi – those will need to found in some of the younger players that Boston has been developing over the last couple seasons – but they may be able to find someone on the open market to produce some runs.
Obviously, Edwin Encarnacion’s name has come up pretty frequently in the last few weeks, and BoSox Injection’s Sean Penney kicked off the series with a look at what he brings to the table. Another possibility is a guy who an incredible year at the plate for the Orioles – Mark Trumbo.
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Why he fits
It’s pretty simple: the Red Sox are going to lose significant production from the middle of their lineup with the departure of Big Papi. Trumbo’s ability to hit the long ball and drive in runs can certainly help in filling that hole.
The current American League Comeback Player of the Year (given out by Sporting News) had an awesome year at the plate. He crushed a Major League leading 47 home runs and drove in 108 runs for Baltimore and helped get them into the playoffs. His slashes are pretty impressive as well: .316/.533/.850. This guy was swinging the bat with some authority this season and made it look easy.
While I think most fans would rather see Encarnacion come to town, it’s important for Boston to not get locked in on any one player. Also, with Encarnacion reportedly set to receive a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays according to CBS Sports, the Sox probably don’t want to get in a bidding war with Toronto. Sure, the Orioles wouldn’t mind signing Trumbo to come back, but it’s not clear how interested they are at the moment.
Trumbo also provides John Farrell with the ability to have some options with his lineup. His versatility in being able to play the outfield, first base as well as a DH option could prove to be very valuable. If Hanley Ramirez truly wants to continue to play 1B, then he and Trumbo could alternate or provide days off for one another.
Why he doesn’t fit
The biggest reason why the Red Sox may not be willing to go too far into negotiations with Trumbo would be his frequency of striking out. The guy was really looking to crush the ball in 2016 and that caused him to swing and miss a decent amount. He struck out an amazing 170 times (10th most in MLB)! To put it in perspective, Ortiz only struck out 86 times this season.
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Trumbo’s batting average wasn’t anything spectacular either – an underwhelming .256. The average and the strikeouts display a more of an up-and-down type hitter than Boston may be looking for. He clearly doesn’t fit their normal philosophy of being patient at the plate, working counts and taking what the pitcher gives you.
Also, with a fan base and a media contingent that is obsessed with questioning Farrell’s decisions on a nightly basis, the team may not want to be saddling him with a constant decision about who to play at first base and who to DH on any given night. However, Trumbo did play a majority of the games as the Orioles’ designated hitter so it may not be a problem.
The other concern is the huge jump in power number in 2016. The Sox have to be weary of the dreaded “one year wonder” curse. He hit 34 homers in 2013 but has never hit as many bombs as he did in 2016. Is this something he can truly maintain?
Will they sign him?
The situation with Trumbo is certainly worth keeping an eye on, especially if Encarnacion returns to Toronto. He’s not exactly a perfect fit, but anybody that hits 47 homeruns and is then available on the open market is certainly worth considering, especially when you lose an iconic hitter like Ortiz.
Also, Trumbo’s veteran status is not something to overlook. Baltimore GM Dan Duquette has mentioned that he had a positive presence in the clubhouse this season.
I wouldn’t break the bank for Trumbo by any means, but he could do some serious damage at Fenway Park.
Interest Level: Definitely worth watching