23 January 2016

Filling Holes With Mancini

With Chris Davis in the fold for the next seven years, the Orioles now find themselves with a young, promising player who has turned heads and is now effectively blocked: Trey Mancini.  Last year, Mancini broke away from being someone worth a flyer to impressing many scouts with his bat.  There are still questions as to whether his swing is too long, but his youth and improvement-to-date make many look past his current deficiencies.  As such, he is expected to crack into a couple top 100 minor league prospect lists.

The value of a backend top 100 prospect first basemen varies a bit, but a conservative figure is that such a player is worth about 12-15 MM.  The Orioles may be able to use this value to find themselves a right fielder or a starting pitcher to round out their rotation.  However, having a useful prospect does not mean teams are hanging around with MLB ready players to off load.  A club will have to both be in rebuilding mode and in need of a future first baseman.  The two clubs that come immediately to mind are the Milwaukee Brewers and the Colorado Rockies.

When evaluating the future performance of players, I used a simple approach instead of the comp model approach.  I took STEAMER's 2016 projected WAR and then moved forward with an age curve.  Until age 27, an increase of 0.25 WAR per year.  From 27-30, no change in WAR.  From 31-37, a decrease of 0.5 WAR per year and past 37, a decrease of -1 WAR per year.

Right Fielder
With the signing of Gerardo Parra, giving the Rockies too many outfielders, and the media leaks that the club is looking hard at available starting pitching, the Rockies curiously appear to be trying to make a push for playoff relevance.  While their farm system is bereft of an obvious first baseman of the future, therefore, giving them a reason for wanting someone like Trey Mancini; they may prefer more MLB ready talent.  With that in mind, Mancini could provide two useful things: salary relief or as a promising second piece in a package.

The player the club would obviously want to dismiss is Carlos Gonzalez.  The bat has slowed and the defense is not all that impressive, plus he is due 17 MM this year and 20 MM for 2017.  A fringe move would be someone like Charlie Blackmon who is set to make about 4.5 MM in his first year of arbitration.  Moving his salary would provide some payroll relief and a multiyear deal for a starting pitcher could be backloaded to take advantage of Gonzalez leaving in two seasons.  Corey Dickerson is the potential prize of the bunch as he has four more years of control in a package that is quite suitable for a second division outfielder.

Carlos Gonzalez
Corey Dickerson
Charlie Blackmon

The value of Mancini (12-15 MM) is nearly equivalent to what Blackmon could be expected to provide in value.  One would think the Rockies would want another piece that might be more relevant to their current roster.  It might be a stretch, but there might be some interest in pitchers like Vance Worley or T.J. McFarland who are not exceptionally meaningful on the Orioles roster.  Of course, this line of thought is more about Blackmon being sent out as a way to open up payroll as opposed to McFarland or Worley being of much value.  A 4.5 MM salary for 2016 for Blackmon, would likely provide the Orioles up to 10 MM to find themselves a starting pitcher bounce back option like Cliff Lee or Mat Latos.

The Rockies might push more for Mike Wright or Oliver Drake.  Wright should cause the Orioles to pause.  A Mancini and Wright deal for Dickerson would make more sense in terms of value for value, but the Rockies would have to think well of Wright as a starter because such a move would not immediately shed payroll.  If the Rockies really adore Wright, this might be the ideal move for both sides.

Carlos Gonzalez is the obvious move here, but the swing in value between him and Mancini is 30 MM.  A piece would have to accompany Gonzalez in that deal.  A piece like David Dahl, which would be an obscene desire to vacate Gonzalez' salary.  A more reasonable deal would be Mancini for Gonzalez (with money coming from Colorado: 4 MM this year and 10 MM in 2017) along with prospect 3B Ryan McMahon or OF Raimel Tapia.  A garnish like T.J. McFarland or Vance Worley would also make sense.  This deal would likely mean that whatever the Orioles' solution to pitching is, it will be internal.

Starting Pitcher
The Brewers are in a difficult situation as was explained earlier here by Ryan Romano.  Their attempt to play out the string imploded in a way Orioles fans might recall from 1998 and 1999.  This has placed the team in a position to cash in chips and think about building toward two or three years down the line.  As it is, the club has no ideal first baseman of the future.  The club has floated Ryan Braun around, but no serious discussions appear to have taken place.  Braun might sound interesting, but he is likely a 60 MM loss in value to anyone.  He no longer performs well in right field, but can play there short term.  He is more of a designated hitter these days.  The penalty for shifting to DH is about the same as his defense deficiency, so his overall value is likely the same at either position.  For the Orioles, he could play right this year and then move on to DH the next four.  A fair deal would be Braun plus 50 MM for Trey Mancini.  I cannot imagine they would be willing to sink that much money into a player who is not on their roster and only get a promising first base prospect in return.

More likely than sinking big money to bid their marqee player adieu, would be for the club to ticket some of their pitching for trade.  The Orioles, hungry for a right fielder, are also hungry to add to their starting rotation.  The Brewers have three likely options: Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta, and Matt Garza.  We will kindly not mention Zach Davies any further.

WAR Cost Value
Jimmy Nelson 10 32 45
Wily Peralta 4.8 20 16
Matt Garza 2.7 38 -18

Moreso than Corey Dickerson, Jimmy Nelson is probably a pipe dream for the Orioles.  Nelson is still in pre-arbitration and is of importance to the Brewers as he just might well be the experienced arm in the rotation by the time they are competitive again.  A deal for Nelson would probably look like something similar to Nelson in exchange for Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini with maybe Vance Worley as a placeholder arm.

Wily Peralta makes more sense for the Orioles to target.  He is a pitcher who likely will not be with the Brewers once they rebuild and provides decent depth for the Orioles.  Injury concerns lessen his value a little bit, so it might be reasonable to think that Peralta could be dealt straight up for Mancini.

Finally, Garza is who the Brewers would want to separate with.  He has 38 MM coming to him over the final three years of his contract and is coming off a disappointing 2015.  Similar to Carlos Gonzalez, the difference in value with Mancini to the Brewers is about 30 MM.  I think Garza is such a poor value that the Brewers would likely hold onto him to see if he bounces back and can be dealt without having to add money.  J.J. Hardy and him would make an easy pairing except that the Brewers are still working with Jean Segura at shortstop.  Maybe a deal of Garza and Segura for Hardy and a potentially useful young pitcher, like Tyler Wilson, would be of use.  I imagine Hardy would not be keen on such a deal, but it would grant him that third year.

Trey Mancini is a decent trade piece.  He is on the threshold of being considered a true prospect and has that sort of transitional value.  The Orioles, having signed Chris Davis, have limited use for Mancini who profiles as a genuine first baseman.  Mancini's bat would need to develop immensely to have a place at the MLB level for the club.  Therefore, it makes sense to repurpose that value for something the club needs.  Milwaukee and Colorado are two clubs that appear to be obvious fits for Mancini.

While Corey Dickerson or Jimmy Nelson would be the prizes from those clubs, they likely require a considerable amount of talent to depart to Baltimore.  More likely options, such as Charlie Blackmon and Wily Peralta, may have some obstacles in place that may make it difficult for the Orioles to acquire them for their true value.  Finally, obvious players who are available would be Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Garza.  Their pay does not match their contracts, so it may be a challenge for the Orioles to take on proper risk with them.

As it stands, Charlie Blackmon seems to me to be the best likely available option.  He has the ability to stand at all three outfield slots and provides a useful left handed bat to the lineup.  He suffers from a considerable split and is more or less a second division outfielder, but he would have some use and some cost control as he works through his three option years.


Anonymous said...

I see the future like this. Chris Davis is a RF. Mark Trumbo is a 1B holding down a spot until Mancini is ready. The O's will not likely offer Trumbo a big contract unless he is extraordinary next year. Then they will hand the position to either Walker or Mancini. I suspect this is Walker's "make-or-break" year. The O's will use Paredes and a rotating version of Trumbo/Walker at DH depending upon who's defense is better and who actually hits well.

With regards to the article, your suggestions for the Dickerson trade sound too attractive to really be true even if the value matches up. You know either of these teams is going to ask for Gausman/Bundy/Harvey and walk away when the O's say "no". Your description of Blackmon as a second division outfielder does not make me happy with parting with Mancini's potential. Is a Blackmon/Davis/Trumbo RF/1B/DH better than Davis/Trumbo/Walker/Paredes rotation at the loss of future potential in Mancini? This deal has real potential. Blackmon would also be a true leadoff hitter with pop and would provide insurance for Jones as a backup CF. The only problem is as I mentioned; I think the Brewers would be asking for Mancini/Bundy not Mancini/Wright. And this still doesn't solve the SP problem,

Peralta has been targeted by a lot of teams looking for a buy low opportunity. Not only does he have injury concerns but is also a bounceback risk. We have two of those already (Tillman/Gonzalez). Does giving up Mancini, knowing that Trumbo may only be around for a year, to get another questionable starter, albeit with ability and young age, really make sense? Not sure but don't think so. I think betting on Wilson and/or Wright is about the same risk - less talent but less injury risk. Plus, still no lefty. Why not just keep all our assets and add Fister? Fister has to represent about the same upside as Peralta while leaving the trade chips in place for some other need later.

I say "yes" on Blackmon for Mancini/Wright but not Mancini/Bundy (until we see if Bundy flames out in the majors this year) and "no" on Mancini for Peralta. I think the competition on a Blackmon trade will be very heavy, though.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Chris Davis isn't a right fielder, and I seriously doubt he'd play there to make room for Mancini. I could see him playing a little bit of outfield this year with Trumbo around, depending on how Showalter rotates players, but that's really it. Moving him off first base to accommodate unproven players like Walker or Mancini just seems confusing.

Jon Shepherd said...

I guess what I would try to think is this: what gets the club closer to a Championship? Is it getting another win or two out of a corner outfield position for 2016 and maybe another season or two? Or, is it having Mancini, who is a second tier 1B prospect, being worth 10 WAR over his cost controlled years (less than a 1 in 4 chance)? That would be the Orioles perspective.

From the Rockies perspective, it might well be one of well we have these assets that are redundant. How do we get something useful for them? Brewers would have more of a future outlook.

Re: Wright vs. Bundy. I think the remarkable thing is how their value is converging more and more. We are well past Bundy's days as a top 20 arm. If the Orioles could get 3-4 years of a 2 WAR cost controlled player for Bundy, I would do it in a heart beat.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I agree. And the key to exploiting that situation is reversible thought on the part of O's executives and delay in realization among some other team who the O's might want to trade with (or their unreasonable belief in the untapped potential and that he'll get healthy). The Rockies are a team that might be susceptible to this thinking since they are always desperate for pitching.

Matt, who's better in RF? Davis or Trumbo? That's your RF. When Trumbo leaves next year, 1B will belong to either Walker or Mancini, whoever does better this year. This is the case unless there is some big personnel change like a trade. they were trying out both Davis in RF and Reimold at leadoff last year. Without a change in personnel, I will bet you that Kim/Reimold will be in LF and Davis/Trumbo in RF. Rickard and Hoes will be backups/defensive replacements. Especially if Paredes gets any significant playing time (DH).

Matt Kremnitzer said...

There is no need for either to be a full-time outfielder. I guess we just disagree completely.

P said...

I was unclear on one point. Were you suggesting a trade for Cargo?
It sure doesn't seem like he'd be of any value, certainly not worth his contract.

Jon Shepherd said...

If Rockies paid down salary or paid down along with including a solid prospect then CarGo could make sense. Without that...no. His pay does not equal his performance.

Anonymous said...

Matt, you may be correct but I'd like to hear an alternate scenario with the current roster. If you have any intention of playing Paredes then either Davis or Trumbo is in RF. Elsewise, one of those is a DH and you get Reimold/Hoes/Rickard. IF you were to integrate Mancini or Walker then one of them would be at first as they are likely both better 1B def than Trumbo. If Mancini were to be your hot Machado-like prospect next year then you sure would make space for him to play - maybe at DH but more likely in the field. If you trade Mancini for Blackmon then all the discussion is moot. Like maybe moving Davis from 3B to 1B so Machado could play (or moving Reynolds to 1B from 3B so Machado could play).

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I am fine with using Reimold in right field. It isn't great by any means, but it's better than sticking Paredes out there. I don't know what happens with Paredes, but he may not be on the roster. I don't think Mancini or Walker will factor in much this year.

Anonymous said...

The Remold ship has sailed, and failed. The thought of that stiff starting makes me sick to my stomach!

Anonymous said...

We trade Paredes to the Padres for a bag of baseballs!

Philip Taggart said...

One final query re: outfielders.
If we DO bring aboard a new OF, given that we already have a large quantity, who would be dumped? Rickard, good or bad, isn't going anywhere; Dan has a thing for rule 5 guys.
Paredes isn't an OF, though hes probably gone anyway, with Trumbo on board.
Hoes is probably not sticking around anyway. Is Reimold the odd man out?

Jon Shepherd said...

Duquette has returned two rule 5 selections.

Anonymous said...

If you believe WAA then if we never had Norris, Cabrera, Pearce, and Parra then the O's would have been a playoff team last year. WOW, somehow all four of those guys are not back for this year. The next guys at the bottom of the pile are Reimold and Paredes. Reimold showed promise late last year and may finally be healthy after his neck issues (he and Markakis may be due for some upside surprises this year). At this point Reimold is predictable and a good backstop against Kim going "Wada" on us. Paredes was extremely good (120+ OPS+) in the first half and extremely bad in the second half (50- OPS+). I can't believe detractors can't remember the first half. Plus he does great at home and hits RH with a vengeance. Those two are also much cheaper than the four above mentioned. At their cost, any positive value makes them worth it. With Reimold/Flaherty/Paredes/Rickard all the roster slots are filled. This is where we are unless we make a deal as is suggested by Matt. Specifically, the Blackmon deal changes the landscape eliminating the need for Rickard but Reimold and Paredes still stay on. I suppose they might try to trade Paredes on his first half stats but I'm not sure Rickard is worth it.

P said...

Logan Verrett eventually made it to the Mets and had productive innings for the big team, including a winning start.
Ha! Dan kept the wrong one!
Almanzar was a curious pick, and even though he was returned, Dan got him back later.
So yeah...
I really respect your thoughts, but I do think Dan will keep Rickard unless he's utterly hopeless.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

If you absolutely had to pick which of Davis and Trumbo sees more time in right field, you'd probably prefer Davis. I don't think Davis would be very effective defensively as a full-time outfielder, but I wouldn't be surprised if he played below average to average defense for an extended stretch. Per UZR and DRS, Trumbo has been worse (in a much larger sample). UZR had Davis as a positive defender in right field in limited duty last season (DRS didn't), but I'm not sure how much anyone should lean on that result. Trumbo may also be a better defender at first base than Davis (http://camdendepot.blogspot.com/2015/12/is-mark-trumbo-good-defender-at-first.html).

Unless you're a believer in Dariel Alvarez, Nolan Reimold, L.J. Hoes, Joey Rickard, Jimmy Paredes, or Henry Urrutia, the Orioles have an issue with one of the corner outfield spots -- and that's without seeing Hyun Soo Kim in a major league game yet. Of the current options, I think the Orioles give Alvarez the opening day nod both because they might want to see what he can do and because the other options are relatively unappealing. Reimold seems like the best of the group and the club believes he's a suitable fill-in in center field. As a newcomer, Rickard may get a shot. But I don't get the fascination with any of the options. Paredes was great in the first half of last season, but he's likely not a good enough hitter to adequately fill the DH role.

As Jon's post covers, the Orioles could really use an actual, competent corner outfielder (one who preferably hits from the left side). I doubt the Orioles gave all that money to Davis to stick him in right field for most of or an entire season. And I certainly don't get the logic of moving him off the position to eventually get Trey Mancini or Christian Walker playing time. There will be DH at-bats available after this season.

Jon Shepherd said...

One thing to note is that by cancelling out the poor performances and saying the club is a playoff club then we are ignoring that current players can also do worse than they did last year. It can be quite problematic if a roster is constructed to make amends with the failures of the previous season. The key is to handle immediate and/or future needs.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I tried to word my input specifically to address that question (i.e. if they had not been there from the beginning of the season last year) so as not to imply predictive value for this year as we have discussed here before. The point being that we have also discussed how DD likes to add by subtraction and I see that clearly happening here - especially for higher dollar roster fillers.

Matt, as also mentioned, getting a real starting OF changes the calculus completely which is why your Blackmon idea is about the best out there. I actually think it's so good an idea that it could never possibly happen (sigh)- maybe if the O's use Bundy..... Excepting that the Orioles have three bench slots to fill (nine position players including Caleb and utility IF by Flaherty for the tenth). Reimold seems like a sure thing. I think Paredes and Rickard have an inside track if they perform well in the Spring. Alvarez, Hoes, and Urrutia will make a great OF at Norfolk. Reimold and Paredes are the only two to have ever shown above average ability in the majors at least for short stretches. If Blackmon were to come in, Paredes and Rickard would be on the bubble. If Paredes had shown even the slightest ability to PH, he'd stick. I think they saw enough of Alvarez last year and were playing Reimold in September. It's not a fascination with any option; it's an analysis of what can done with the existing options. I was also responding to the other Anon who just wants to dump Reimold and Paredes as failures. We diss on Paredes but he has really only had one shot in the league so far - last year.

Jon Shepherd said...

It is difficult to keep all these anons straight. Ha.

Anonymous said...

Also, for this season, among the hitters, the key to the season is rebounds from Wieters, Hardy, and Flaherty and positive contributions (WAA-wise) from Kim and Trumbo. That is where the whole season lies no matter what trades happen from here on. On the pitching side, Gausman has to replace Chen's numbers and Tillman and Gonzalez must rebound and someone has to provide positive value in the middle innings (Garcia, Wright, McFarland). Without significant additions or changes, these are the things that have to happen. How well Davis plays RF is way down on the list of concerns.

P said...

Garcia is spending the rest of his life at Bowie.

Anonymous said...

Hey P, please read Ryan's article on Garcia's improvement in the second half. Plus he is very young and was expected to perform as he did last year as a young Rule 5. I actually agree with your earlier post on Verrett. Seemed like a really good bet to perform well. IT would have made for some very limited flexibility early on (maybe even having Gausman spend more time at AAA). But, by the time we knew how bad Norris was going to be, Verrett would have been a blessed arm to have. And Gausman could have been treated with more consistency (or Wilson or Wright could have stayed at AAA). It's a real shame the way that turned out.

P.S. I apologize, Jon, I think I attributed the Blackmon suggestion to Matt above.....

Anonymous said...

Blackmon could be had for Matusz and Walker.

Jon Shepherd said...

I will pass that on to Dan.