Free Agent Stock Watch: Rick Ankiel

The Royals signed outfielder Rick Ankiel to a one-year, $3.25MM deal in January.  I liked the contract, thinking the Royals could extract some value out of him at the trade deadline.  GM Dayton Moore succeeded on that front, pairing Ankiel with Kyle Farnsworth and cash to acquire Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, and Tim Collins from the Braves.  Ankiel has a $6MM mutual option for 2011.  The Braves are likely to choose the $500K buyout, making Ankiel a free agent.  Let's examine his situation.

The Pros

  • Ankiel's power returned in his 101 plate appearance stint with Kansas City.  He slugged .467 with 11 extra-base hits.
  • He hit a respectable .256/.339/.462 in 177 plate appearances against righties this year.
  • The sample was small, but Ankiel's 10.8% walk rate this year was a career best.
  • He's capable of playing all three outfield positions.
  • Ankiel is likely to sign another one-year deal at a lower base salary.

The Cons

  • Ankiel was terrible with the Braves and has never been good at getting on base.
  • Ankiel fares poorly against lefties.
  • He can't stay healthy.  This year a quad strain limited him to 74 games.
  • Ankiel is not much of a defensive center fielder, based on UZR.
  • He's represented by Scott Boras, so his price could be inflated despite the poor season.

The Verdict

When healthy, Ankiel provides some pop against righties.  It'd be difficult to guarantee him more than a million bucks, and you could argue that the deals signed by Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, and Corey Patterson are the best comparables.  Ankiel will have to earn his playing time in 2011.

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