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Arizona Diamondbacks

Kurkjian: Trumbo ‘absolutely' worth a shot for D-backs

Though being held in Orlando, there wasn't much "hot stove" news to report from baseball's winter meetings, with the exception of the Arizona Diamondbacks' three-way trade with the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In the deal, the Diamondbacks sent away pitcher Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton for the Angels' Mark Trumbo, along with a lower-tier prospect from both the White Sox and Angels.

While many like the trade for the Diamondbacks, others have expressed their doubts.

When Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo asked guest Tim Kurkjian to share his opinion on the trade, he didn't mind it for the Diamondbacks, but he liked it more for another team.

"I liked more what the Angels did," Kurkjian said Thursday.

"I'm always hesitant to trade young left-handers with really good arms."

Prior to the 2013 season, both Skaggs and Eaton were among the Diamondbacks' top 5 prospects. But, following an injury and underwhelming campaign from Eaton and a drop in velocity among Skaggs' manifold struggles.

Unproven as they might be, Kurkjian believes one thing is for certain in the exchange for the Diamondbacks: the power they'll receive.

"The only thing guaranteed in this trade is that Mark Trumbo is going to hit at least 30 home runs this year, which is what they got him for," he explained.

General manager Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks did, indeed, covet a power-hitting corner outfielder, as he mentioned following the final game of the season. The departure of Justin Upton prior to the 2013 season left a void of power in the Diamondbacks lineup, as the team hit 35 fewer home runs, despite taking the league's most trips to the plate and rostering Paul Goldschmidt, who led the National League in home runs, with 36.

But, like others, Kurkjian questions Trumbo's defensive abilities.

"Now, he has to be able to play somewhere near an average left field, which is not going to be easy for him since first base is his only real position," the ESPN analyst explained.

Spread over four seasons in the majors, Trumbo has combined to play less than a full season of outfield defense, only suiting up for 122 starts away from first base or designated hitter, while logging eight starts at third base in 2012.

And defense isn't his only problem, according to Kurkjian.

"He has to get his on-base percentage over .300, which he has not done for two of the last three years," he went on.

"He's got to figure out why his strikeout rate has climbed the last two years, not to mention his swing and miss rate. Those are big issues, because if you're just going to become Dave Kingman or something to that effect, that's not good enough in today's day and age."

Only six American League hitters swung and missed more frequently than Trumbo in 2013, who had a swinging strike rate 14.5%. The 27-year-old had a nearly identical such rate in 2012, which rose from 12% in 2011.

Trumbo's 27.1% strikeout rate, meanwhile, ranked seventh-highest in the AL.

Still, Kurkjian doesn't believe the trade is necessarily bad for the Diamondbacks, who got the more sure thing in the deal, adding that Trumbo is known as one of the better ‘clubhouse guys' in baseball.

"Is it worth a try for the Diamondbacks? Absolutely," he said. "Do we know what Tyler Skaggs is going to do? Absolutely not."

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