23 December 2014

Should the Orioles Take Advantage of San Diego's Outfield Surplus?

SD signed the "Swinging Friar" to play OF
(photo via Nathan Rupert)
We here at Camden Depot have spent much of our time this offseason talking about what the Orioles should do about their outfield.  With six starting pitchers, a strong bullpen, and an infield already occupied by some pretty good players, the outfield is the most obvious place for improvement in Baltimore, especially after the departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis.  As the San Diego Padres continue to collect major league outfielders, it’s natural to look at their surplus and see if any of those players would look nice in Oriole orange, so let’s do that now.

This is not going to happen. Additionally, there have been rumblings that San Diego may try to use Myers as a part of a package to get Cole Hamels.

The 32-year-old outfielder has a very similar profile to Alejandro De Aza (look at their Baseball-Reference pages and see that they’re basically the same player), so acquiring Venable wouldn’t make sense.  Additionally, Venable plays good defense in center field (something none of the new acquisitions do well) and is under contract in 2015 for a very affordable $4.25 million, so it’s likely the Padres aren’t all that motivated to move him.

Smith had a career year in 2014 during his first season in San Diego, batting .266/.367/.440 (AVG/OBP/SLG), which was good for a wRC+ of 133.  Not only was did his hitting improve, but his walk rate jumped to 13.2% (career 10.6%) while his strikeout rate dropped to 16.7% (career 18.8%).  It doesn’t appear to be luck driven either, as his BABIP was at his career level and his batted ball statistics were mostly near career averages as well (save for a huge drop in infield fly balls).  And although Smith may not initially be thought of as a good defender, he’s actually decent in left field, being worth 4 Defensive Runs Saved in almost 3,000 innings.

With a career wRC+ of 63 against left-handed pitching (123 wRC+ against RHP), Smith is strictly a platoon bat.  However, with the versatility of Steve Pearce, the Orioles should be able to move some players around so that Smith would never have to see a left-handed pitcher.  He signed a two-year, $13 million extension in July, so he would be a good trade target for Baltimore considering his relatively low salary and two years of control. He didn’t receive a no-trade clause as part of that extension, but he was given assurances by the team that he wouldn’t be traded after signing, which likely decreases the chance (or increases the price) of the Padres dealing him.

Carlos Quentin career statistics (*combined DRS between LF and RF)
Make no mistake, Carlos Quentin can hit a baseball, and it doesn’t matter if it’s being thrown by a right-handed pitcher or a left-handed pitcher (he’s actually better against RHP).  Additionally, Quentin is only owed $8 million in 2015, with a $10 million mutual option in 2016 (with a $3 million buyout), which according to Marc Normandin, is no longer an issue.

However, if you look at his outfield defensive numbers in the table above, he loses quite a bit of value when he’s actually in the field.  Essentially when Quentin plays, he’s a better version of Delmon Young, without the platoon issues.  However, that’s the other issue with Quentin: His lack of durability has limited him to no more than 340 plate appearances in a season since 2011.  Looking at his injury page on Baseball Prospectus is downright frightening, and injuries to both knees have caused him to miss 240 games since the start of the 2012 season.

Quentin belongs in the American League where he can avoid playing the field altogether.  As long as he’s healthy, Quentin would be a good target for the Orioles as a replacement for Delmon Young/full-time DH.  Based on his injury history, the Orioles should be able to acquire Quentin cheaply in terms of prospects, and if they could get the Padres to cover at least half his salary (if not more), he’d be a gamble worth taking.

When the Justin Upton deal went down, Maybin was the first Padre outfielder that came to my mind, resulting in this tweet.

After taking some additional time to think about it, two years and $16 million may be a little expensive for Maybin’s services (Maybin is owed $7 million in 2015, $8 million in 2016, and a $9 million club option in 2017, with a $1 million buyout).  Similar to Quentin, Maybin’s track record of health (or lack thereof) is concerning, to the point that it would be foolish to count on him for a full season.  Due to knee, wrist, and shoulder injuries, he’s tallied only 329 plate appearances the last two years, and those plate appearances haven’t gone well (a 30 wRC+ in 57 PA’s in 2013 and a 77 wRC+ in 272 PA’s in 2014).

Thanks to decent hitting (96 wRC+), excellent center field defense (24 DRS), and good baserunning (15.4 BsR), Maybin was worth 6.5 fWAR between 2011-2012.  And as a former top prospect (ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him #29 in his 2009 top 100), he’s the obvious upside play of this group.  As a prospect, he was projected as a possible 30 home run bat.  He hasn’t hit for much power in the major leagues (career ISO of .110), but at 27 years old (he’ll play the 2015 season at 28), there is still a chance that power shows up, although that chance is admittedly small.

Even if the Padres provide some financial relief, a Maybin acquisition is risky.  Not only is his health a major concern, but his strengths (defense and baserunning) don’t have as much value to a team like the Orioles, who already have two similar players in David Lough and De Aza on their roster.

Cameron Maybin potentially has the chance to add more value to the 2015 Orioles than any other of the San Diego outfielders, but the chances that he stays healthy AND hits well are relatively small.  For a team that plans on contending in 2015, the Orioles probably shouldn't be taking the chance of both happening in 2015.


Seth Smith, Carlos Quentin, and Cameron Maybin could each be a possible fit for the Orioles.  None of these players should cost too much in terms of prospects (especially true for Quentin and Maybin), but whether it’s platoon issues, injuries, or ineffectiveness, each player comes with his own limitations.  Given the makeup of the roster and the Orioles' plans for contention in 2015, Carlos Quentin (if healthy) is likely the best (and most realistic) San Diego outfielder for Baltimore to target this offseason.  Although as mentioned previously on Camden Depot, the Orioles could do just end up doing nothing, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Mike Bonsiero said...

I predicted to some friends about 6 weeks ago that if Cruz left, Carlos Quentin is exactly the type of move the Orioles would make. So I stand by that. And I think it would be a pretty decent idea.

Steve said...

They don't need OF defense so much as they really need an obp leadoff hitter. Smith would be ideal, Quentin okay but leadoff would waste his power and he would sit out the lefty 1/3 of starters. On the upside, he hits doubles which would help Davis. CD hit 200 ops points higher with risp; the runner must mess up the overshift.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

What they could really use is just another outfielder who can hit. Sure, a high OBP would be ideal. That's always helpful. If it's a leadoff hitter who has some speed, great, but another bat would be a nice upgrade for the lineup overall.

Mr. Brownridge said...

I am still holding out hope for Rasmus. I think he is the best option. I am also hoping to unload Jiminez's salary and then go after Sherzer. That would be a great Christmas present.

ltdan74 said...

The Padres are inquiring about Bundy and Gausman. Not going to happen for Gausman but for Bundy there is some type of three way deal involving Philly and Hamels. I could see Myers and Byrd coming to us and Bundy and Matusz going to Padres/Phillies and let them figure out the players on their end for the Hamels part of it.

Erik said...

The Orioles need pitching more than hitting. Giving up either Gausman or Bundy, with years of team control, to get a couple of years of an outfielder doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The only way this team gets an ace it can afford is from within its own system. Actually, I don't see us getting a real #2 any other way either.

ltdan74 said...

I agree Erik, Gausman is the ace of the future (our next Mussina). IMO Bundy is overrated and our next Ben McDonald. Let the Pads and Phillies overpay. Wil Myers was not healthy last year. When he's healthy he's better than Cruz and Marlon Byrd is better than Markakis.

vilnius b. said...

I think Rasmus is still the best option but only if he doesn't cost us a lot.
Rasmus is a decent fielder and his power should play well with the short right porch at Camden Yards.
Character issues, specifically his unwillingness to be coached, are the major concern with Rasmus and that doesn't fit with the kid of guy Showalter likes on his team.
Smith/Quentin would make a nice back up plan and we don't have to rush to make a deal for either one. Quentin would probably play DH a lot of the time and perhaps he could manage to play 20-25 more games than he usually does if that's his primary position. He's a very productive hitter when he's in there.
Padres have a glut of OFs. Somebody will be moved before the season starts, and the closer we get to spring training, the cheaper either one will cost us.
I refuse to believe that Bundy is going to be involved in a trade. "Grow the arms, buy the bats" has been the Orioles guiding organizational philosophy the last 5-6 yrs. and it makes a lot of sense.