"The O's tried but we just didn't find a fit for Jimmy Paredes on this year's team when it was time for him to be reinstated. Jimmy worked hard with us and we appreciate his contributions over the past two seasons."The big switch-hitter showed flashes of promise at the plate over 277 first-half plate appearances in 2015, slashing .299/.332/.475 with 10 homers before falling off a cliff after the All-Star break. Interestingly, his BABIP remained around .370 in the second half, but the power disappeared and his K% shot up from 24.9 to 39.3%.
Sidelined with a wrist injury to start the season, Paredes went 9-for-27 with a homer in a short rehab stint with Norfolk before coming off the DL and forcing a roster crunch that led to Duquette placing him on waivers. As a side note, his last three rehab games were against Buffalo (the Jays' AAA affiliate), so perhaps Toronto's scouts, who are notorious for picking up powerful 1B/DH types off waivers (see Edwin Encarnacion), got a good look and liked what they saw. Maybe he would have cleared waivers had Norfolk not played Buffalo. Who knows.
It's safe to say that the reason Paredes was placed on waivers in the first place was defense. The O's definitely saw the potential in his bat, even during his horrid second half swoon, or else he wouldn't have given him so many at-bats post All-Star break. But with Ryan Flaherty able to provide above average infield glovework off the bench and Hyun Soo Kim forcing his way into more playing time wherever Buck can fit him in, the O's simply didn't have a pressing need for Jimmy Paredes on the team anymore.
This whole thing reminds me a lot of when the Jays put Danny Valencia on waivers last August due to a roster crunch. The A's immediately snapped him up and he has mashed for them since then, going off for a three-homer game just a few days ago. I'm not saying Paredes will suddenly blossom into a 30-homer threat, but there are a few reasons to keep an eye on him as he begins his tenure with Toronto.
The player that Paredes gets compared to the most is Robinson Cano, and looking at his swing you can see why.
The Blue Jays broadcast didn't hesitate to make the comparison in his Toronto debut, and they linked the two by dropping the name of legendary Dominican hitting guru Luis Mercedes, whose claim to fame is shaping Sammy Sosa, and who also currently works with Edwin Encarnacion and...you guessed it, Robinson Cano. According to Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez, Paredes has been working with Mercedes since 2012.
One of Paredes' perennial weaknesses has been his coverage of the outer half. He's always been able to pull inside pitches, but a big key to his mini-breakout in the first half of 2015 was how he was able to handle outside pitches.
Here's a heat map showing his power zones (going by SLG) in the first half of 2015. Paredes took most of his at-bats as a lefty last year, and hit 24 of his 29 extra-base hits as a lefty. Take a look at that big red area outside from the LHB perspective.
He was able to achieve that elite outer-half SLG by taking the ball the opposite way with authority when he needed and generating more flyballs on outside pitches instead of slapping them into the dirt. The stats support this: from 2014 to 2015 his FB% rose by 6%, his Hard% rose by 4%, and his Oppo% rose by 5%.
Here's a GIF of the home run he hit on his very first swing as a Blue Jay.
That looks awfully close to the kind of swings he was taking early in 2015, so either he's a hot starter, or he's beginning to get his outer half power stroke back.
His main woes down the stretch last year stemmed from contact issues. Despite swinging at a higher rate than ever before in 2015, Paredes saw his Contact% drop from 74.8 to 65.6. He was missing pitches inside and outside the zone, and that resulted in a swinging strike rate of almost 20%, which would've led all of baseball by almost three per cent if Parades had enough PA to qualify.
There's no doubt Paredes is a very flawed player, and this post isn't meant to be an attack on the Duquette's decision to let him go. He'll probably continue to be plagued by contact problems, and his power is seriously limited as a righty. But if he can build on the approach he was taking early on in 2015, he could develop into a nice power bat in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre.