Oakland Athletics: After Missing on Encarnacion, Is Trumbo Up Next?

The Oakland Athletics were a finalist before Edwin Encarnacion opted to join the Cleveland Indians. Will Billy Beane now turn to Mark Trumbo for some added pop?

Edwin Encarnacion was expected to sign quickly being that he was the best hitter on the market outside of Yoenis Cespedes. Now that he has decided to join the 2016 American League champion Cleveland Indians, eyes will turn to the rest of the free agent power hitters that are still looking for a place to call home.

Veteran sluggers like Jose Bautista, Mike Napoli, Brandon Moss and Chris Carter all remain on the free agent market without many clear landing spots. However, the best of the bunch was the home run king last season, Mark Trumbo.

After the O’s traded catcher Steve Clevenger for the 30 year-old slugger, many thought that Trumbo could have a nice bounceback season in a ballpark like Camden Yards. It turned out that he had more than a bounceback year as he turned into one of the biggest power threats in all of baseball. The former 18th round pick hit 47 bombs with a respectable .256 batting average en route to his second all-star appearance. These numbers would signal that Trumbo would have a robust free agent market. But, it’s close to the new year, and he has still yet to sign.

Enter the Oakland Athletics. After emerging as a surprise contender in the Encarnacion bidding war, some might expect for Billy Beane to use that money on another one of those capable power hitters available. In fact, it was reported by Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca that the Athletics offered Encarnacion $25 million per year. Granted, Nicholson-Smith explained that it was on a shorter term deal.

With this sort of money now being known to be available to Billy Beane, it’s reasonable to ask whether he will turn his attention to Trumbo, with him now being the best power bat available?

The fit seems to be there. At the moment, the Athletics are slated to have Yonder Alonso starting at first base, with a combination of Stephen Vogt and others manning the DH spot. Trumbo’s best and probably only place in the field is at first base, even though he was the primary right fielder for the Orioles in 2016. But this was more out of necessity than anything else, really. Trumbo would represent a sizable upgrade over Alonso, so Trumbo would have a clear role in Oakland. The team would also not have to give up a first round pick because they fall in the top ten of the 2017 draft order.

However, I have serious doubts about whether the Athletics will invest heavily in Trumbo considering that the team does not have a playoff caliber roster entering this coming season. It should be said that Trumbo is younger than Encarnacion, and Oakland was willing to pay him big money in the short-term. But, I think the pursuit of Encarnacion was more of Billy Beane trying to take advantage of a slipping market for a player that has produced the way Encarnacion has.

Trumbo has been much more inconsistent over the years and does not offer the same on-base capabilities that his counterpart does, having posted a measly .316 OBP in what was a career year in 2016. The power numbers should be there, but I see Trumbo as more of a piece that helps bring a current contender to another level, which makes him a better fit for let’s say the Rockies or Rangers.

That’s not to say that Beane won’t jump in if Trump’s contract demands come down considerably. The Athletics front office showed through their pursuit of Encarnacion that they are willing to pay for power. But it does seem that Oakland is not likely to get in on the Trumbo sweepstakes unless his asking price falls greatly.

Do you think that the Athletics should pursue Mark Trumbo? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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