Mark Trumbo may share time at first base for the Angels. Because of defense.

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When I wrote the Angels preview the other day I assumed that Mark Trumbo would be taking over the first base job until Kendrys Morales can come back. As I said, Trumbo “hit the tar out of the ball at Salt Lake City last year, hit the tar out of the ball down in Venezuela over the winter and has continued to hit the tar out of the ball this year during spring training.”

Apparently that’s not good enough for Mike Scioscia, because he’s taken a shine to Howie Kendrick at first base over the past 10 days, and said yesterday that he’d use him there at least a couple of times a week. Here’s Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:

Scioscia believes that infield will provide better overall defense, because Kendrick, who has started 53 major league games at first, rates a slight edge over Trumbo, whom the manager described as “a work in progress” defensively. “. . .He’s adequate and improving,” Scioscia said.

Look, the example of Brandon Wood is proof that, no, you can’t trust everyone who rakes at Salt Lake City to be good in the majors.  But really: is Mike Scioscia truly going to make his decision of who plays at first base based on defense?

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.