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Royals Review analyzes Dodgers outfield for possible trades:
Wouldn't it be nice to have
Puig? A 5 WAR player under an extremely reasonable contract for the next
four seasons? Yeah, Friedman thinks so too. Puig stays.
After signing a giant contract with the Red Sox
in 2011, Crawford immediately pulled off the two worst seasons of his
career. The Dodgers, eager to improve and with apparently limitless
money to spend, took him on in 2013. Since then, Crawford has been
pretty productive, putting up 5.4 WAR. There are three problems about
acquiring Crawford: age, handedness, and fielding history. Crawford is
not Benjamin Button and will (most likely, you never know) age normally,
which is to say for a baseball player entering his mid 30s, not well.
Furthermore, he's a lefty who has never played right field in the major
leagues. The Royals already have two lefties in the outfield, and
getting someone with some experience in right is probably a focus for
them. Crawford's out.
Ethier is a player who's
earned his keep from his above average hitting, which is now in
decline. He's getting paid a lot of money to do so. Steamer projects
him at exactly 0.0 WAR, though where it has him playing in the field I
don't know. Ethier played mostly center field this year, which was bad
as you might expect, but wouldn't play center under any circumstances
with the Royals if they were to acquire him.
Here's where salary comes into
play. Part of the reason to trade an outfielder like Ethier is to do
so for salary relief, but he's under contract for so much that the
Dodgers would have to eat some of the salary. Ethier could probably be
acquired cheaply in terms of prospects, and would be a decent veteran
acquisition should he be on the free agent market. If the Dodgers kick
in at least $10 million a year, the Royals could consider Ethier.
Here's where things are really
interesting. Matt Kemp sounds like a big name, yes, but Kemp is
probably one of the most overrated players in baseball. In 2011, he put
up 8.4 WAR, smashing 39 home runs and hitting 68% above league average
in the process. In his other eight seasons, he's never put up more than
5 WAR; in fact, over half of his career value has come from 2009 and
2011. Alex Gordon is a significantly better outfielder than Matt Kemp is, and it's not really close.
However, Kemp is being paid
like he's putting up 2011 numbers, which is unfortunate for the Dodgers,
because he's been injured and/or awful in the three years since. He's a
horror to watch in center, but his best position is right field where
he's merely not good--Defensive Runs Saved from the Fielding Bible even
basically has him as an average defender there for his career. He's
definitely a defensive liability going forward, but his bat more than
makes up for it.
If the Dodgers kicked in
enough so that a trade would mean 5 years and $50 million commitment,
the Royals should listen. With the value of the win rising and his
contract locked in and even each year, and considering a healthy Kemp is
worth between 2 and 3 WAR, I think the Royals would seriously think
about it. If the Royals were on the hook for 5 years and $40 million, I
think it would be even more attractive.
Van Slyke is also an
interesting option. A career minor leaguer who has spent 9 seasons in
the MiLB, Van Slyke debuted with the Dodgers in 2012 and has gained more
playing time each year since. He had an amazing offensive season in
2014, but it was fueled by a huge .394 BABIP, and he's not particularly
fast or powerful so that number should be considered an outlier. Even
with a BABIP in the range of mortals, Steamer projects good offense from
him, although with some iffy defense.
He's not flashy nor a big
name, and there's probably no upside left for a 28 year old, but Van
Slyke is a good acquisition for the Royals. He's making the league
minimum for another year, and will reach modest arbitration salaries
starting in 2016. For a guy who's probably somewhere around league
average, and for a team whose own young players are getting paid in
arbitration, Van Slyke is an acceptable, dare I say 'cromulent,' option
for right field a la Aoki.
It's worth mentioning these
players, for they are truly the reason for the Outfield Scramble.
Pederson put up an OPS of over 1 in AAA in 2014, continuing his trend of
destroying every baseball possible in the minor leagues. Schebler
hasn't been quite as good, but has posted an OPS of safely over .900 for
two straight years (in A+ and AA, respectively) and is a legitimate
prospect who will be 24 next year. The Royals probably won't move to
acquire either, as they are searching for veterans and not prospects at
this juncture. But they are a duo to watch, for sure.
The more that I
think about it, the more I like trying to pry Kemp from the Dodgers for
as little as possible. Kemp is still reasonably young at 30.
Furthermore, Kemp could be utilized as a DH some days in 2015 and might
eventually shift there part or full time as he enters his mid 30s.
After that, I
think I would like Van Slyke over Ethier. I'm wary of Ethier's aging
and offensive decline, and while Van Slyke isn't exciting, he's also
extremely functional and available.
Dodgers are a possible trade partner for the Royals. Keep an eye on the
Dodgers--they're going to trade with someone, but only Friedman knows
what he's looking to do.
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what about getting hit in head with ball as batter where helmet is insufficient?
yeah, like I said, it's a poor slide. Call it what you want, it's a slide.
zero evidence collision ban in MLB prevents brain damage