Dust is finally...finally settling.
It was December 8, 2011 that the Angels announced the stunning twin signings of 1B Albert Pujols and LHP C.J. Wilson to contracts of 10 years and $240 million, and 5 years and $77.5 million, respectively. Two days after that, December 10, the signings were announced and both men were introduced to a crowd of 5000+ huddled between the helmets in the front of Angel Stadium.
Two years after those magnanimous signings (and another one with Josh Hamilton sandwiched in there) to the date, the Angels reeled off what will indisputably be one of baseball's biggest trades of the offseason. Here's the framework of it.
Not a typical three-team trade, in that not every team received a piece from every other team (the White Sox and Angels did not have a transaction in this deal). But it is one that many baseball pundits are agreeing that the Angels...actually won, for a change, after several questionable deals in which it seems the team has displayed unstable decision-making ability. But for this one, it is apparent that there was no meddling, there was no owner's interference striking things down, and Jerry Dipoto has quite possibly made a great improvement to the team.
But what about the statistical ramifications?
Supporters of this trade magnify Trumbo's consistent inability to post a high on-base percentage (his career high of .317 came in 2012), while opponents of the deal point to Trumbo's raw power (95 home runs across three seasons in the majors). What is neglected by many who view the trade in either light is that Trumbo's walk rate was steadily increasing, and there's no reason to believe the trend wouldn't continue. Arizona is also anywhere from 10-15% more hitter friendly than Anaheim (drier air, no marine layer, cozier power alleys), leading many to believe that some of Trumbo's offensive woes can be fixed by a change of scenery, while his strong suits will only grow more dangerously powerful.
On the pitching side of things, Skaggs and Santiago are both young, controllable left-handed arms, likely both to be pillars of the Angels' rotation with up-and-comers such as Mark Sappington, Brandon Hynick and, later down the road, young guns such as Hunter Green. Skaggs was originally drafted by the Angels, but flipped a year later as the player to be named in return for Dan Haren. Now he's back in Anaheim, almost certain to be injected directly into the starting rotation as the fifth starter, with a lot to prove: that he's more than what was seen during his shortened stays in Arizona. Santiago, on the other hand, was given much of a chance by the White Sox, but never a consistent role. He, in a sense, served as their Jerome Williams, except younger and left-handed. A reliable swingman, though, if all stands as is and the Angels fail to sign another starting pitcher, Santiago is all but a lock as the Angels' third starter.
Statistically speaking, though, who looks as if they could come out on top?
Let's look at what we're losing first. In addition to the player to be named we're giving up (likely to be AJ Schugel, dependent on the results of the Rule V draft), we lose Mark Trumbo, the team's leader in home runs each of the past three seasons, the fastest in Angels history to 50 career home runs, but also frustratingly inconsistent at the plate in terms of simply getting on base. A blazing first half of 2012 resulted in his lone All-Star berth and a spot in the Home Run Derby (he would place third, forcing a swing-off with Jose Bautista after the second round), but he faltered so horrifically in the second half that his first-half efforts were basically negated to what balanced as a mediocre season. 2013 saw Trumbo like a hot knife through butter until June, when the wheels came off...again. But what happens in Arizona? The home park is much friendlier to his play, but the road schedule--particularly one in which he plays 28 games in three of baseball's biggest pitcher's parks, all within his division--might mean little overall improvement by the numbers. What actually happens?
MARK TRUMBO AS A DIAMONDBACK, 2014
And so we lose what appears to be the beginning of Trumbo's prime. A .254 average is right around what we'd expect from him on that front, but a .318 OBP with that suggests that his patience would be improving, and a walk rate of 8.25% certainly backs that theory up (his career average is 6.26%, with his 2013 rate of 7.96% being his career high). And a deeper center field with cozier power alleys plays right to Trumbo's tape-measure game, who would project 19 home runs in Chase Field across a full 81-game span. The .506 slugging would be his highest total of his career, as would (barely) the .318 OBP. The point? His prime is beginning.
What are we giving that up for? This.
HECTOR SANTIAGO AS AN ANGEL, 2014
TYLER SKAGGS AS AN ANGEL, 2014
In comparison to our two starting pitching additions LAST offseason, definitely an improvement and a welcome change. Santiago might wind up the smartest offseason acquisition amongst any made at all. His career road numbers as a starter translated very handsomely across a full-time load, and his career home numbers as a starter certainly didn't slouch. Convert that from the hitter-friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field, to the marine-layered pitcher's haven of Angel Stadium (which is bound to kill some of his fly ball tendencies, which might reduce his home run total and thus several other statistics), and you have yourself someone that, realistically speaking, could wind up one of baseball's best left-handed pitchers in a couple years' time. A lot of that, however, hinges on his alarmingly high walk rate. This projected rate of 4.2 per nine innings suggests that a lot of Santiago's success could be coming from him "CJing" his way out of risky situations; in other words, though he walks a lot of men, Santiago tends to get lucky by escaping from jams almost routinely, and we should expect that here. Perhaps Wilson could even be used as a ceiling for Santiago's potential.
As for Skaggs? He's just 22, and those stats are all improvements over his Arizona stat lines. He matches Santiago's innings total, with one less start, giving the impression that he could easily develop into, if nothing else, an innings-eating back end pitcher (which we can certainly use). But his low walk rate and high strikeout rate are both encouraging, and building on those two things could eventually help him advance even further, possibly to the tune of a K/BB ratio upwards of 3.5 and working his way up the rotation in future years. Skaggs could eventually wind up, after the days of Weaver and Wilson come to an end, being able to front the rotation (assuming Garza doesn't sign here) with the likes of Santiago and Sappington.
We gain two reliable pitchers. We lose a power bat that looks to be developing into at least league average, if not better, when it comes to plate discipline and getting hits that aren't home runs.
Skaggs and Santiago both have the potential to develop into front-of-the-rotation arms for us.