Thursday, November 12, 2009

Outside the Box, Part 1: Magglio Ordonez

This might sound crazy, but the Mets might want to take a look at acquiring a guy like Magglio Ordonez for next season.

Now, as has been discussed ad nauseum, Magglio managed to trigger his massive $18 million option for the 2010 season. At this stage of his career, at the tail end of a big contract, he is simply not worth that kind of money[1].

But might he make sense for the Mets?

Although his struggles last year were highly publicized, Magglio ended the year with a very respectable line of .310/.376/.428 with only 9 home runs. His career line is very similar in average and on-base, but his career slugging percentage is .513, and he hit 24, 28, and 21 home runs in the previous three years.

Even better, after struggling uncharacteristically in the first half, he hit above his career averages in the second half, destroying up the American League at a .375/.438/.540 pace.

As for 2010, Magglio has a projected (as per Bill James) line of .311/.376/.476 with 17 home runs. In addition, he played 104 games in right field last season and posted a -2.8 UZR according to fangraphs -- not bad at all[2]. The previous two years he posted ratings of 15.4 and -5.6.

He will play the entirety of next year at age 36. It is not unreasonable to believe that he can reach, or even exceed, that projected line. If he met the projection, he would be worth approximately $14 million next year.

So why does this make sense for the Mets? Because the Tigers are trying to dump salary. Per the New York Post:

In a cost-cutting frame of mind, the Tigers have let teams now that Curtis Granderson could be had for the right package, an NL executive told The Post.
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But the Tigers are supporting a top payroll in one of the cities hit hardest by the economic downturn, and they have many long-term commitments to players who are just about untradeable, including Magglio Ordonez

If the Tigers are trying to dump salary, and they are out of it next year, then they would LOVE to shed Magglio's contract. They would much prefer to hold on to young talent who could concievably be around for the next good Tigers team, like Granderson or Edwin Jackson.

So instead of signing Matt Holliday for $18-$20 million per season for six years, the Mets could bolster their lineup by acquiring Magglio in a straight salary dump. We'd have a VERY good hitter, have to give up almost nothing, and have a financial commitment of only one or two seasons. This all depends on the state of the Tigers, but the teams match up perfectly.

In my outside the box plan, the Mets would take on Magglio's contract in a manner similar to when Manny Ramirez was available through waivers several years ago from the Red Sox. Then, they could non-tender Francoeur, move him to left field, or trade him for something that we could really use. If we were to non-tender him, the cost of Magglio's contract would net out to something like $13 million.

I'd say it's worth kicking the tires.

[1] According to Cot's Contracts, Magglio has the same vesting option for 2011 -- that is, if he reached 135 starts or 540 PA's, that his contract will trigger again for another $18 million. Let's assume for now, however, that we can avoid that by resting him continually throughout the year.

[2] In comparison, Jeff Francoeur rated as a -6.1 last season.

1 comment:

James Esatto said...

Just want to add that Magglio's approach to hitting (mostly line drives and ground balls) translates well to the spacious Citifield. Less than 35% of his balls in play are put in the air and therefore he wouldn't lose as many hits to the park as others would. Holliday also actually has a low figure of 36% fly balls (over the last 3 years) so he's not a bad fit either. I don't think either of these are bad options for the Mets in their own way, unlike Jason Bay who would be disastrous (46% fly balls and a brutal fielder having to cover a lot of ground).