23 July 2015

Exploring The Orioles' Corner Outfield Trade Targets

The Orioles have been mentioned a few times as a potential landing spot for a corner outfielder, and Dan Duquette is doing his due diligence in pursuing an upgrade (even if it potentially involves Kevin Gausman, or even Bud Norris, hilariously, to possibly free up some money). The O's are often reported to be in the running for multiple players, which doesn't really mean anything. Lots of teams have interest in lots of players, after all. But the Orioles rarely make that top-of-the-line acquisition; they are more likely to sign Nate McLouth in the middle of the season or trade for Alejandro De Aza or Scott Feldman (oops). That's why it was reasonably surprising when they struck a deal last season with the Red Sox for Andrew Miller, the most dominant relief pitcher on the open market.

The O's could again use another excellent reliever, but so could most teams. They could also benefit more by picking up a front-line starting pitcher than a slight corner outfield improvement. But with Kevin Gausman back in the rotation and Chris Tillman turning things around -- along with the price a very good starting pitcher would command in this seller's market -- that's not expected to happen.

It's nearly as unlikely that the Orioles will be able to acquire any of the best outfielders available on the open market. But the speculation continues, and there will be a handful of trades involving talented players in the next week and a half. Obviously the O's front office needs to figure out what type of talent, if any, they want to go after, and whether or not they can cobble together a respectable package from an underwhelming farm system for a notable upgrade in talent.

So, even if it ends up just being for the fun of it, let's parse the corner outfield trade market (in improbable and plausible categories). I'm also going to assume the Orioles can take on the rest of a rental player's contract for this season, but then again they sold a draft pick to the Dodgers to save money a few months ago, so who knows for sure.

Improbable Full-Time Acquisitions

Yoenis Cespedes 
Career 116 wRC+. LF: +25 DRS/+24 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

Cespedes is not a skilled center fielder, but he is a good left fielder with a cannon for an arm. The Orioles may be in the market for a hitter with better on-base skills. However, Cespedes's power is undeniable, and even if he doesn't take a walk often, he'd provide the Orioles with another solid bat in a lineup that could use another solid bat, period.

Justin Upton
Career 121 wRC+. LF: 0 DRS/-10 UZR; RF: +19 DRS/+8 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

Cespedes gets the slight nod over Upton because the two are at least similar offensively and he's better in left field (though the O's could always play Upton in right field, unless you're ecstatic with the Chris Davis experiment). Upton, though, is also currently dealing with an oblique injury.

Ben Zobrist
Career 118 wRC+. RF: +28 DRS/+36 UZR; LF: +3 DRS/+2 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

Zobrist can play anywhere on the field, and he can handle himself well at nearly every position (though he mostly plays second base and corner outfield). If that wasn't flexible enough, he's also a switch-hitter who posts similar production from both sides of the plate.

Jay Bruce 
Career 110 wRC+. RF: +28 DRS/+25 UZR.
2016: $12.5M; 2017: $13M club option ($1M buyout).

A lefty with power, Bruce is having one of his best offensive seasons. He hasn't played left field since 2008 (and only 41 innings). The team that trades for him would also have him under contract through the end of the 2017 season, and about $26 million for those two years is more than reasonable. Trading for Bruce would also keep the Orioles from searching for yet another corner outfielder this upcoming offseason when Davis and possibly Steve Pearce depart via free agency.

Carlos Gonzalez 
Career 118 wRC+. LF: -4 DRS/-2 UZR; RF: +10 DRS/+9 UZR; CF: +9 DRS/+5 UZR.
2016: $17M; 2017: $20M.

A trade for Gonzalez probably won't happen because of the amount of money involved. He's a pretty good defensive right fielder (he hasn't played center field since 2011). Still, he does not hit left-handed pitching well, he's not nearly as good of a hitter outside Coors Field, and he's battled injuries for a couple of seasons.

Carlos Gomez
Career 99 wRC+. CF: +83 DRS/+78 UZR.
2016: $9M.

Considering his fantastic 2013 and 2014 seasons, Gomez is having a bit of a down year both offensively and defensively. Still, he'd present an upgrade offensively and a massive improvement in the field since he's overqualified to play left or right field (and Adam Jones isn't moving from center). In that sense, it would be wasteful to acquire a center fielder and then stick him in left field. It would be nice to have Gomez around for $9 million next season, however.

Plausible Platoon Bats

Seth Smith
Career 114 wRC+. LF: +3 DRS/+12 UZR; RF: -9 DRS/-7 UZR.
2016: $6.75M; 2017: $7M club option ($0.25M buyout).

Smith is very good against right-handed pitching; not so much against lefties (though he is this season). His contract seems reasonable, though the O's haven't had much luck with paying decent chunks of money for platoon outfield bats.

Marlon Byrd
Career 102 wRC+. LF: -3 DRS/-2 UZR; RF: +26 DRS/+14 UZR.
2016: $8M club option.

Byrd would be a good fit for the O's and he can hit left-handed pitching. They also don't don't have to pick up his option.

David Peralta
Career 118 wRC+. LF: -1 DRS/-2 UZR ; RF: +7 DRS/+4 UZR.
Team control through 2019.

It's unlikely he'd be dealt, but he's been excellent against right-handed pitching (limited sample size) and is a decent outfielder. The story of him reaching the major leagues is also pretty cool.

Ender Inciarte
Career 86 wRC+. CF: +15 DRS/+13 UZR.
Team control through 2019.

Inciarte plays all three outfield positions well. But he's not a very good hitter and is awful against lefties. Neither Peralta nor Inciarte would come cheaply, though, with that many years of team control left.

Ben Revere
Career 86 wRC+. CF: -23 DRS/+2 UZR.
Team control through 2017.

There's a big divide between his defensive skills according to DRS and UZR. He has lots of speed, but he's not a good hitter.

Gerardo Parra
Career 94 wRC+. LF: +26 DRS/+21 UZR ; RF: +50 DRS/+37 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

He's having a career year in 2015, but he does not hit lefties well.

Josh Reddick
Career 104 wRC+. RF: +54 DRS/+45 UZR.
Team control through 2016.

When healthy, he's a very good outfielder and right-handed pitching masher.

Shane Victorino
Career 106 wRC+. RF: +45 DRS/+41 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

He's injury-prone, is making $13 million this season, and has stopped switch-hitting.

Jeff Francoeur
Career 89 wRC+. RF: +52 DRS/+33 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

No longer a plus outfielder. Generally better against left-handed pitching.

Dominic Brown
Career 94 wRC+. LF: -15 DRS/-21 UZR; RF: -14 DRS/-12 UZR.
Team control through 2017.

Bad outfielder. Can't hit lefties.

Ichiro Suzuki
Career 106 wRC+. RF: +98 DRS/+117 UZR.
Free agent in 2016.

Obviously no longer nearly as effective offensively or defensively. Still an above average corner outfielder.


Feel free to note your favorite outfielder of the names mentioned or throw out other names of interest, if any. If the O's make a move for anyone noteworthy, it'll be fascinating what type of trade package it requires.

As expected, most of the platoon bats are not intriguing. Only a couple of them would present upgrades; the others would come cheaply but would include a lot of hope for a lightning-in-the-bottle type of scenario -- which has been in the Orioles' wheelhouse.

As the Orioles drop another game back of the Yankees, they could really use a boost, whether that's in the starting rotation or everyday lineup. It's clear they need help and maybe aren't as good as they thought they'd be before the season. Or maybe they don't need help because even one or two moderate upgrades won't be enough. No one said this would be easy.


Jeremy said...

I think the O's should try to trade Wieters (and ?) for Cespedes. The Tigers are not getting much offensively from their catchers and might be willing to bank on Wieters being at least an average hitter and slightly above average defensive catcher, which would improve their situation. They would miss Cespedes' power but less so when Cabrera returns, and Rajai Davis has shown himself a capable everyday OF in the past. For the O's part, don't look now but Caleb Joseph is getting on base more than Wieters, has the occasional burst of power, and is IMO a slightly better defensive catcher.

Philip said...

Always well researched, Matt.
1) Pearce is having a down year but is solid defensively at multiple positions. Any genuine interest in a re-sign?
2) are there any players of interest facing possible DFA because of a roster crunch?
I think the Padres and Dodgers have too many, but I'm not sure if they are forced to make a move.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

If the Tigers trade Cespedes, they would probably target prospects. I don't know why they would want Wieters and then have him hit the open market.

Yes, I'd be interested in re-signing Pearce. That shouldn't be surprising.

Not sure about other teams and DFA'd players. Guess we'll have to see who becomes available.

Philip said...

I agree about Wieters/Joseph, but I would want more than a two month rental for Wieters. The Tigers are desperate, and they have money. They might well be able to keep him.

Jon Shepherd said...

According to everything I have heard, the Tigers think they are out of contention, which is why they are shopping their impending free agents around. No matter how desperate they may or may not be, they are looking presumably to 2016. If their heart is set on Wieters, I imagine they will wait until the offseason when they can throw their money around and work with Boras.

I see no advantage for a non-contending team to try to trade for Wieters.

Mike said...

I'd love to see Cespedes, but it's incredibly unrealistic. Trading one rental for another? lol that's not going to happen.

After today's game I'm convinced that the Orioles should be sellers to bolster their weak farm system.

If they were to trade, I like the idea of Jay Bruce. I think we could get him as a steal because the Reds are desperate to deal him. The fact that he has a few years under team control means we could get some consistency. I've always liked the idea of Zobrist in an Orioles uniform considering how much he's killed us in the past. If we could get Parra for a song, I'd be interested in seeing what he could do here.

The rest of these players are either unrealistic or will just be "more of the same." We don't need more platoon players, we need a consistent presence in the lineup.

tony2302 said...

following this series with the Yankees and actually since the break it has become painfully obvious that this team as it is currently made up can NOT manufacture runs. oh they can score via the HR but they really have not many hitters on the team. hitting for power is nice especially IF people can get on base in front of them which is not happening. imo the club banked too much on Machado,Wieters and Davis being productive as well as Pearce. one out of four won't cut it. they sat and waited and hoped they could get players and ended up getting "fill-ins" who are not doing much. i can't see trading for any FA to be because there is an ivory soap chance that whoever they trade for is gone next year and we gave away any trade potential for nothing.so then in that aspect Jay Bruce would be the only option unless Gomez would be willing to move to left or right.