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Should the Rays Pursue Morales or Trumbo?

Unless you live under a rock you already know that the Angels have signed Albert Pujols to a $250M deal. The deal was a bit shocking for multiple reasons and one of those reasons was that the Angels already have two first basemen.

This move most likely means that one of the existing first basemen will move to DH but the Angels already have Bobby Abreu there, creating an even bigger logjam for a non-position. This means that the Angels may be willing to listen to offers on either one of their former first basemen.

The Angels have talked about moving Mark Trumbo to 3B but he has never even played a single inning there. I find it highly unlikely he makes the transition at all, let alone successfully.

Trumbo does have five years of control left, two of which are at the league minimum salary. He possesses big time power that should yield 30 homeruns annually and his glove is above average and he is a big target for infielders to throw to. But, Trumbo comes with many holes in his game.

Trumbo has never shown a lot of patience, even in the minors. In the minors he only had two out of six seasons with a walk rate higher than 6.6% and posted a horribly low 4.4% walk rate last season. The low walk rate lead to an abysmal .291 OBP which is unacceptable for a first baseman. In fact, Trumbo has only posted an OBP above .333 once in seven professional seasons. Unaceptable.

Kendrys Morales missed all of last year due to a broken ankle that occurred while jumping on home plate. We all know the story. He had a second surgery back in June to clear out scar tissue and bone spurs and that usually takes six months to rehab, lending one to believe he will be ready to play around Spring Training.

Morales is arbitration eligible and MLB Traderumors predicts a salary of $2.8M in 2012. That is very affordable even if his recovery time is a bit longer than normal.

Before the injury, Morales hit .302/.353/.548 over his last 833 plate appearances since 2009. Morales also fields his position quite well with a +18.6 UZR in 2343.1 career innings at first base.

Morales, like Trumbo, has patience issues but he also possesses a much better hit tool and better idea of the strike zone. His lack of patience is not due to a lack of discipline, unlike of Trumbo.

There is some concern over how soon Morales will be ready. Angels manager Mike Scioscia skirted around the issue by saying "the doctors really have no way of knowing, and we have no way of knowing until you get out there and start to do the things you need to do to play first base at the major-league level and swing the bat and run the bases."

If I am the Rays I stay away from Trumbo. The Angels will try and value him highly due to his contract control, youth, and raw power. The Rays won't fall for it. He is barely a league average hitter at a position that demands much more.

Morales is considered, by some, to be a non-tender candidate and I cannot imagine, if true, that it would take a whole lot to acquire him. I feel this is the perfect buy-low option for the Rays and they should consider Morales now before someone else does or he is non-tendered.