Chris B. Young Rumors
The Diamondbacks are weighing whether Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra is a better fit as their everyday left fielder in 2012, GM Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Snakes are also looking for help at shortstop and third base this winter, and Towers said those decisions will affect the direction that Arizona takes in left field.
"When you put a club together, it’s more of a puzzle,” Towers said. “What you do at short and third maybe changes what your need is in left. If you get more offense on the corner, then maybe there’s more of a premium for the defender in left. If you don’t get the offense and you get the defense in the infield, you have to have your power somewhere."
Piecoro projects the 2013 D'Backs outfield as Justin Upton remaining with the team and playing right field, Adam Eaton playing center, and one of Kubel or Parra in left, leaving A.J. Pollock as the fourth outfielder. The loser of the Kubel/Parra decision would become expendable along with Chris Young, who has already been rumored to be on the trading block. Young is owed $8.5MM in 2013 and his $11MM option for 2014 carries a $1.5MM buyout, and Piecoro reports that the D'Backs expect to eat some of that money in any Young trade.
Kubel signed a two-year, $15MM deal with Arizona last December and he hit 30 homers with a .253/.328/.506 batting line in 2012, though he slumped in the second half of the season, posting just a .745 OPS after the All-Star break. Parra posted a .727 OPS in 430 plate appearances last year and provided his usual excellent glovework, recording a +13.8 UZR/150 rating. It's a clear choice between hitting and defense for the Snakes, though contracts also play a role --- while Kubel will earn $7.5MM next year, Parra is arb-eligible for the second time this winter and is under control through 2015 as a Super Two player.
Towers mentioned how defense was an important factor at Chase Field and that he wanted the team to be less reliant on home runs, leaving Piecoro to speculate that this could mean the D'Backs could move away from Kubel in left and Chris Johnson at third base.
In other team news, Piecoro hears that Trevor Bauer isn't likely to be traded. D'Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick sounded critical of Bauer last week, leading to some speculation that the team had soured on the highly-touted 21-year-old. If Arizona actually did make Bauer available, the 2011 third overall pick would instantly become one of the biggest trade chips on the market this offseason.
The chances of Justin Upton, Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton returning to the Diamondbacks’ outfield in 2013 seem slim, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. One or more of those players will likely be moved in trades. Here are the details on Arizona’s offseason plans...
- Rival executives believe the Diamondbacks will trade Young this offseason. Some say they expected Arizona to let Young go on waivers if he had been claimed last month. The center fielder will earn $8.5MM in 2013 and his contract includes a 2014 option with a $1.5MM buyout.
- Some rival executives sense that GM Kevin Towers is less likely to trade Upton this winter than he has been in the past. There’s no guarantee teams will meet Arizona’s asking price for Upton and there’s concern that the right fielder would blossom as a hitter if he’s traded elsewhere.
- Despite the Diamondbacks’ impressive core of young pitching, Towers would like to add a veteran starting pitcher this offseason, Olney reports.
Buster Posey has a legitimate chance at the NL MVP this year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Posey has 20 home runs and a .327/.402/.531 batting line with nearly six wins above replacement (5.8 according to FanGraphs, 5.5 according to Baseball-Reference). Here are more of Olney’s notes from the NL West...
- Rival executives expect the Diamondbacks to trade Justin Upton this winter, Olney reports. Some team officials believe the Diamondbacks will also trade center fielder Chris Young, possibly for a shortstop. Young earns $8.5MM next year and his contract includes an $11MM club option for 2014, so he'd represent a more affordable alternative to free agents such as B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino. Arizona could then enter the 2013 season with a projected outfield of Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel and Adam Eaton.
- Olney suggests the Giants will move on from Brian Wilson this offseason. Wilson, who appeared in two games this year before undergoing Tommy John surgery, will be arbitration eligible this coming offseason. He’ll be expensive if the Giants tender him a contract, as he earned an $8.5MM salary in 2012. It’d make sense for the Giants to see if there’s trade interest in the 30-year-old, Olney writes.
The Diamondbacks' signing of Jason Kubel to a two-year contract was met with surprise and even some confusion from pundits. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs described the move as "weird," arguing that Kubel was potentially only a minor upgrade over incumbent left fielder Gerardo Parra at the plate, and a major downgrade in terms of defense and baserunning. Moreoever, it minimized Parra, whose Gold Glove-winning defense and steady bat played a key role in Arizona's 2011 NL West title.
So with Kubel, Chris Young and Justin Upton locked in as the D'Backs' starting outfield, does this mean Parra could be expendable? Not at all; there's still reason to believe Parra will be a valuable player for Arizona both in 2012 and potentially for years to come.
Through three seasons in the Majors, Parra has provided both excellent defense (a career +9.5 UZR/150) all over the outfield and a solid bat against right-handed pitching (a .289/.337/.420 career line against righties). In both 2010 and 2011, the left-handed hitting Parra posted a higher OPS against lefties than he did against righties, albeit in roughly a quarter of the plate appearances.
This progress against southpaws notwithstanding, the vast majority of Parra's 2012 at-bats will come against right-handers. D'Backs GM Kevin Towers has already stated that Parra see action against certain tough right-handers spelling Upton and Young. I'd say Parra is far more likely to spell the latter than the former, since Upton may be the cusp of superstardom and Young has more significant flaws in his game.
After delivering stable splits (an .826 OPS vs. lefties, .781 vs. righties) in 2010 as part of a career-best .793 OPS season across the board, it seemed as if Young was finally finding some consistency to match his big power, speed and increasingly impressive glove. Unfortunately for Young, he reverted to his old tricks in 2011 --- he hit just .222/.312/.382 against right-handers, as compared to a mammoth .285/.392/.546 against lefties. Arizona doesn't lose anything defensively or speed-wise by playing Parra over Young in what could develop into a regular center field platoon.
Parra doesn't turn 25 until May 6 and is under team control through 2015, which means he could be coming into his prime just as Young and Kubel's contracts are expiring. Young is set to earn $15.5MM over the next two seasons, with a club option worth $11MM for 2014 (with a $1.5MM buyout), while Kubel's deal pays him $16MM over the next two seasons with a $7.5MM mutual option for 2014 ($1MM buyout). Of the two, Young is the likelier to remain a D'Back since quality defensive center fielders with 30-homer power are a much rarer commodity than what Kubel brings to the table, but the presence of Parra and prospect A.J. Pollock gives the team lots of outfield flexibility in two years' time.
The Diamondbacks' surprising playoff berth last season turned what was seemingly a rebuilding team into a win-now operation, as evidenced by Kubel's signing and the trade for Trevor Cahill. While the club doesn't have the resources to just eat a $16MM contract if Kubel struggles, the D'Backs at least have a quality backup (or more) in Parra who provides too much value to trade.
Let's look at the richest contracts by service time, in terms of guaranteed money...
- The most regrettable deals were signed very early in the player's career, Young and Carmona. Might be a lesson in using up those pre-arbitration years before taking the plunge.
- The largest contract signed by a position player with less than one year of service time after Braun's deal is Evan Longoria's, which will pay him just $17.5MM over six years. Is Braun overpaid, or is Longoria underpaid? I think the answer is clear.
- Sabathia's four year, $9.5MM deal nearly tripled Roy Halladay's three year, $3.7MM deal with Toronto, which was the previous record for a pitcher with less an a year of service time.
- One only of the above contracts has expired.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.
Some news items from around the majors on this Monday night...
- MLB.com's Bill Chastain profiles left-hander Carlos Hernandez, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2004 and is trying to return with Tampa Bay.
- While it's very unlikely that Barry Zito will live up to his $126MM contract, Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports.com notes that the left-hander is still a solid starter.
- The Braves have no interest in teenage prospect Wagner Mateo, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Mateo was originally signed by St. Louis last summer but the Cardinals voided the contract due to concerns over Mateo's eyesight.
- The signings of Jason Jennings and Brett Tomko shouldn't cause any concern about the health of other key pitchers on the Oakland staff, says Tom Singer of MLB.com.
- Philadelphia has become a prime destination for free agents and stars looking to be traded, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Back-to-back NL pennants and a World Series title will tend to do that.
- Chris Young struggled in his first season of a five-year, $28MM deal with Arizona and has yet to have a true breakout year after three seasons as a major league regular. John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com, however, thinks it's too early to write Young off.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson answers fan questions on a variety of topics, including how prospect Chris Marrero (Washington's first-round pick in the 2006 June Amateur Draft) could be affected if the Nationals re-sign Adam Dunn.
- Speaking of mailbags, Baseball America's Jim Callis answers some fan questions about prospects and also looks ahead to the 2011 June Amateur Draft.
ESPN's Rob Neyer recently posted a mailbag question about the Javier Vazquez-Chris Young trade between the White Sox and Diamondbacks. On December 14th, 2005, the White Sox sent Young and the unwanted salaries of Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino to Arizona for Vazquez and cash. Neyer's reader began his question with:
Kenny Williams was roundly criticized back in 2005 for trading highly regarded 5-tool uber-prospect Chris Young to D-backs for often underachieving Javier Vazquez.
Cue the sound of screeching brakes...was Williams really roundly criticized on December 14th, 2005? This is where the MLBTR archives come in handy. It's cool to see how we evaluated trades the day they were made. Here's the post. I liked the deal as a win-now move for the Sox. MLBTR was only a month and a half old, so the post only has 15 comments. But there was no criticism of Williams.
How about South Side Sox, which opened its doors in April of '05? They seemed in favor of the deal, as did Ken Rosenthal in an excerpt found here. Sox Machine also liked the trade, and both blogs noted that Vazquez was a bargain compared to A.J. Burnett's newly-signed five-year, $55MM deal. Let's get an opinion from the other side with AZ Snakepit, which also started in 2005. The post's author, Jim McLennan, was "both enthusiastic and somewhat concerned" about the trade.
It seems to me that this trade was mostly properly evaluated when it was made. The Sox would eventually miss Young, but not in 2006. I think Neyer's commenter's general point was that Young hasn't been quite as good as advertised, with a career OBP of .301 in two-plus seasons.
Scott Reifert is the VP of communications for the White Sox. In a cool trendsetting move, the team created an MLB blog for him last June. I didn't unearth any juicy trade rumors while browsing the blog, but there was one interesting post on July 1st entitled Trade Deadline Aftermath. According to Reifert:
"A poster, who had read about the unrealistic trade demands that were out there from other teams, asked me to identify the players in our organization who were in high demand.
Williams has been quite active since then - here's the full rundown.
Buehrle - White Sox possess $9.5MM option for 2007, a no-brainer
Garland - Signed to a three-year, $29MM extension this winter
Garcia - Signed through 2007
Marte - Traded for Rob Mackowiak
Rowand - Traded for Jim Thome
McCarthy - Hoping for starting rotation opening
Anderson - Penciled in as starting CF
Young - Dealt for Javier Vazquez. Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus had some interesting comments on the Diamondbacks' CF prospect:
"Chris Young and Brian Anderson might have seemed interchangeable to people who were more casual followers of the White Sox, but Young (now a Diamondback) is the better prospect by a long shot. He has two years on Anderson, and his skills rate is vastly superior in every department except throwing arm (not a substantial consideration for PECOTA) and contact hitting ability. PECOTA sees Young growing into a .300 EqA guy, with about a 30% chance of becoming a true superstar. There’s some risk involved because of Young’s strikeout rate--it takes a “special” prospect to get both Willie Mays and Chin-Feng Chen on his comparables list--but we’ll save that discussion for the next installment."
Out of nine players named by Reifert, three were dealt and another was close to being traded. You can bet Jose Contreras has been a hot topic of late, although the Ozzie and Kenny continue to deny the rumors. In other White Sox news, this guy continues to make a fool of himself.
In a move that took both me and Mark Gonzales by surprise, the White Sox acquired starter Javier Vazquez for center fielder Chris Young (plus the unwanted salaries of Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino). Whenever a defending World Champion makes a couple of major trades, the GM is inevitably described as "bold" in the media. I'm not sure whether I count as a member of the media, but "bold" is getting cliche. Check out some of these synonyms: spunky, audacious, gritty. I think I'll call Kenny Williams spunky when referencing the Vazquez and Thome deals.
If you're a Sox fan, you can't possibly dislike this trade. It's a classic Williams "win now" move. He's been doing this for years, dealing can't-miss prospects for all sorts of players. And why not? The White Sox have raised tons of failed #1 prospects through the years. Remember Scott Ruffcorn, Chris Snopek, Mike Caruso, Jon Rauch, and Joe Borchard?
Williams was dealing from a position of strength in center field. The 22 year-old Young was ranked #7 among White Sox prospects by Baseball America entering the 2005 season. (If you're curious, Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood, who were used in the Thome deal, ranked #8 and #19, respectively). Young is a skinny, speedy athletic guy with good power. He hit .277/.377/.545 in Double A this year and plays a mean center field. Baseball America compares him to Mike Cameron and says he'll be ready by 2007. By that time, the D-Backs' young outfield should be in full force, boasting Carlos Quentin, Young, and maybe Conor Jackson.
But the White Sox have no reason to worry about 2007. In Vazquez, the club has added a durable innings eater with solid peripheral stats. By that I mean he strikes people out and keeps the walks down. Home runs have been an issue for the last couple of years, and it ain't gettin' better at U.S. Cellular. In fact, the Cell will exacerbate the problem. Still, Vazquez can be counted on for 400 innings of at least league average pitching for the next two years, which is plenty valuable. The fact that Arizona took the washed-up Orlando Hernandez and might give the Sox some cash makes the deal look even better for Chicago.
I'll probably break out a RotoAuthority projection for Vazquez later today, but for now let's see what Bill James's minions came up with. They expect Vazquez to go 12-11 with a 3.85 ERA over 211 innings in '06. Projected WHIP is 1.25, and a 7.8 K/9 is predicted. Of course, the effects of U.S. Cellular and the AL aren't factored into that projection.