|Parra is Back in Orange and Black|
In Gerardo Parra, they have acquired a once shining young player whose defensive acumen and offensive potential made some analysts think he would be the greatest corner outfielder of the 2010s. His bat stalled out and regressed after a promising 2011 season. His stellar defense deteriorated in 2014, leading the Diamondbacks to deal him out for two promising, but run-of-the-mill, prospects in Milwaukee's low minors. A year later, the defense looks worse based on the metrics, but he is having a career offensive year.
The good news is that Parra's defensive free fall appears to be the product of being forced into centerfield a few too many times and Milwaukee's outfield being unable to help cover his fading range. That can be resolved with the Orioles. The club has experience protecting a player with fading range. Adam Jones was often used to shade Nick Markakis to help out with balls ranging into right-center. Additionally, right field for the Orioles plays somewhat tighter than Milwaukee's stadium, so Parra should be fine as long as he can play the carom. Of course, this all goes out the window if he is placed in Camden Yards' open left field.
The bad news is that Parra's second breakout offensive season of his career looks to be held up by a lot of smoke and a plethora of mirrors. He is enjoying a BABIP of .372, which is about 50 points more than his established career average. He is hitting fly balls at an abnormal pace and his home run per fly ball is about 35% greater than what should be expected from him. As a lefty in Camden Yards, he should not experience a great free fall, but his offensive performance should be expected to drop significantly. If he plays right and replaces a left fielder in the lineup, a reduction in performance should still be a net positive. If he plays left, then it might well be a push.
With all that in mind, what we are looking at is an improvement of zero (if his bat returns to normal and he stands out in left field) or, maybe, 2 wins (if his bat remains hot and his fielding becomes stellar again without negatively impacting the rest of the outfield). More likely, I think we are in the 0.5 range, which is a value of about 7 MM, which is about what a 45 rated pitcher is worth in the middle of summer.
Zach Davies is a lower second tier prospect in AAA. He should be a permanent fixture in the Majors next year if everyone accepts that he is a middle reliever. If the Brewers insist on him being a starter, it will likely take a few years for him to cement himself into a rotation. Davies has good fastball command, but it is a pitch that sits around 90. His changeup is solid. His curve is a bit of a mess, but has seen improvement. If all those come together, you have the makeup for a fringe mid-rotation arm, which is quite valuable. However, it is easy to dream on flashes of potential. More likely, he becomes a fastball/changeup pitcher who has a show me curveball to try to disrupt an at bat. I have difficult accepting that he will be a meaningful arm in the Majors.
In the end, it is a fair deal. It is a deal that has a great deal of potential for the Orioles, but a low probability of that potential being reached. For the Brewers, it helps add another chip to the pile and increase the likelihood of stable of arms in hope that one or two breakout or at least enable the club to stitch together a cheap, effective bullpen. I think it is difficult for either fan base to be upset with the deal. That said, I think it is a poor deal for the Orioles only in that it removes another mid-level prospect from one of the most talent poor farm systems in baseball for a two month rental and that it uses a mid-level prospect as a center piece for a mid-level trade instead of using a mid-level prospect as a complementary piece to a deal pinned by an elite prospect (i.e., Gausman, Harvey, Bundy). I think the deal does little to impact the clubs fortunes in making the playoffs and, probably, does little to impact the talent pool in the minors. All in all, shrug.