The Angels are hurting themselves with Mark Trumbo at third base

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What’s getting lost in the mess that is Mark Trumbo at third base for the Angels is the fact that Trumbo just isn’t much of an offensive upgrade.

Trumbo, who committed his third error in two games in the Angels’ 7-3 loss to the Royals on Sunday, hit .254/.291/.477 as a rookie last season, giving him a .768 OPS. Nothing in his minor league track record suggests that he’s going to get a lot better at age 26. Maybe he will anyway — he was better than I thought he would be at age 25 — but the odds of him hitting enough to make up for what will be, at best, a well below average glove at third are long.

Alberto Callaspo, a perfectly average defensive third baseman, hit .288/.366/.375 in 475 at-bats for the Angels last season. No, he didn’t come close to matching Trumbo’s RBI total, but he was just about as valuable offensively thanks to the extra 75 points of OBP. And the Angels aren’t exactly starving for a .300 OBP-30 HR guy hitting seventh when they have Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales and Vernon Wells following Albert Pujols in the order. A .280/.350/.370 line from Callaspo will do just fine.

The Angels also have super-sub Maicer Izturis available to play the position. He hit .276/.334/.388 in his 449 at-bats last year.

I don’t think the Angels should abandon the Trumbo experiment entirely, but he should be the team’s third option at third base, not the first. If that means he doesn’t start more than once or twice per week between there and DH, that’s fine. The Angels could always work him out in left field, too. Of course, Mike Trout is awaiting his chance in Triple-A, but Trumbo has a better chance of being an upgrade on Wells than he does on the current third basemen.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.