Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Interesting 2011 Non-Tenders, Part 2

Last episode, we took a look at five guys who might help the Mets this season as they try to rebuild and retool their roster. Taylor Buchholz, the stud reliever who came back from Tommy John last year; Edwin Encarnacion, underrated third baseman who projects to hit about 25 home runs; Lastings Milledge, a fourth outfielder who projects to a 95-100 OPS+; Ryan Rowland-Smith, who may benefit from a move out of Seattle into Safeco East; and Eugenio Velez, a Quad-A player who can put pressure on our in house second base candidates. Today, we look at a handful more.

Samuel Gervacio: A player who I've had my eye on all season was Samuel Gervacio. Gervacio struggled with injuries last year in what should have been his breakout season. He pitched only 13 innings between AAA and MLB with what appears to have been a rotator cuff problem. Gervacio was just coming off a season where he struck out 9.97 batters per nine in AAA and then had 21 sterling innings in his major league debut, posting a 2.14 ERA and 10.71 K/9. Instead of a step forward, however, he took a step back.

Gervacio was non-tendered this year as a result of his injuries, so the Mets have a special opportunity to acquire a special player:
Gervacio pitched for the major league club in April before being shut down with shoulder issues. MLB rules state that had he continued to be affected by the injury in spring training and did not make the club, he would have to be placed on the major league disabled list and command a major league salary.

The Astros hope to bring him back with a non-roster deal later in the offseason.

“We want Sammy to be part of our club, but we wanted the protection from having to keep him on our major league DL,” Astros general manager Ed Wade said. “We were prepared to tender everyone else on the roster.” (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Since he was non-tendered, every team in baseball has an equal opportunity to offer Gervacio the same minor league deal with a MLB option.

Gervacio in his 2009 debut was one of the best rookies in the game - outpacing rookies such as Andrew Bailey, Luke Gregerson, and Daniel Bard in measures such as swing and miss %. Batters swung and missed at his fastball an astounding 39% of the time.

Gervacio could be special, so I think the Mets should out-muscle the Astros with a better offer.

Verdict: Minor league deal, $750K if he makes the major league roster, with a $1.5M team option for 2012 and a 500K buyout.

Willy Aybar: Willy is another one of those guys who looks like a tweener to me. He put up a 921 OPS in Triple-A back in 2006, but since then has hung around the fringes of MLB rosters and never had the opportunity to play every day. His OPS numbers by season have been 764, 737, 747, and 653 and he garnered no more than 324 at-bats a year.

The reason that Aybar is interesting is because he can fake it all over the field. He is listed as a first baseman, although he only has a few games there (5.9 UZR/150). He's played at second base (-6.3 UZR/150) and third base (-1.8 UZR/150) as well.

Aybar will only be 28 this season, and if he can be had cheaply, I could see him contributing in a Fernando Tatis-type role. Aybar has a little pop in his bat, projecting to hit around 16 HR if he played a full season, and is stronger against lefties than righties (785 OPS v. left for career).

Verdict: Minor league contract

Jack Cust: We advocated signing Cust last offseason. What did he go on and do?
He earned $2.8M for his work and batted .272 with a .395 OBP and 13 home runs in only 113 games. According to fangraphs he was worth $9.6M.
Cust doesn't figure to be as cheap this season, but he was non-tendered by the A's in a move which confuses me once again. Cust would only have been in line to earn a little over $3M in arbitration (I think) so for the A's to let a .395 OBP walk away is surprising.

Could Cust fit on the Mets? Doubtful this year. I liked Cust last year on a cheap contract at first base when it was not clear that Ike Davis was ready, but this year it doesn't look like there is a spot for him. After posting such good numbers last year and benefiting from a lot of luck, Cust will get starter money somewhere and the Mets don't have a place to play him.

Verdict: Pass

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