It's time to talk about Brendan Ryan. Everyone knows exactly what he is at this point in his career, an elite defender with zero stick. There's often been eternal hope from those who point to his career batting line, but his comparative success in St. Louis seems like a distant memory. Ryan is set to be a free agent after this season, and the Mariners have recently benched him for Brad Miller, although he's continued to get sporadic playing time with minor injuries to Nick Franklin.
Why he's attractive
- You're hard pressed to make a case for a better defensive shortstop in baseball, unless you want to bring Andrelton Simmons into the mix, who isn't available to be traded to some contender. We can eliminate one team who might want to trade for Ryan. Cool.
- Ryan's only graded out as average so far this year in UZR, but a history of success and a visual eye test confirms he's still elite. Ryan possesses a career rate of +11.5 UZR/150 at shortstop, and DRS has him saving a whopping 95 runs over the last five seasons.
- Ryan won the Fielding Bible award in 2012, and has been a Gold Glove finalist. There's nothing more to say here. Anybody who's been able to see him on a daily basis knows Ryan is the game's best and awards are stupid.
- He's due to be a free agent and is subsequently a lame duck wallowing on the Mariners bench, he brings a boatload of experience and humor to the clubhouse, and he's dirt cheap. Check out this wonderful article that Ryan Divish wrote about Brendan Ryan last month over at Baseball Prospectus for more.
Why he's not
- This is a weird and dumb to write because we also know than Ryan is one of the worst hitters in the game. As a Mariner he topped out at .289 wOBA in 2011, but has fallen to .252 in 2012 and .235 in 2013. If you like batting average, he hasn't hit above .200 in two years. It'd be hard to find a worse offensive player over this time span so I'm not going to do it because I like Brendan Ryan and that's depressing. This is the only thing wrong with him, and it just happens to be a very important thing. The Mariners have chosen to overlook it for years and have gotten solid production at shortstop for an affordable rate.
Possible interested teams
- New York Yankees. Maybe the Mariners should just trade all of their expiring assets to the Yankees, because I'm writing about them in all of these profiles. Obviously the Yankees have Jeter and Cano up the middle, but Eduardo Nunez has been filling in for Jeter and he stinks (-1 WAR, poor defensive shortstop) and Jeter's now sidelined with another injury. Surely, the Yankees would like to add more offense, but Ryan can provide the same offensive output as Nunez while giving them elite-level defense. Upgrade.
- Detroit Tigers.
Nobody quite knows when Biogenesis suspensions are due to come down, but Jhonny Peralta has been mentioned as somebody who's going to get the hammer, and the Tigers won't want to be left in the cold.It looks like the Tigers are in the clear when it comes to suspensions this season. They employed Adam Everett for a number of years, so they know how a player with this skillset goes.
- Any other contending team with questionable defense up the middle. This leaves it wide open for interpretation, but Brendan Ryan is the perfect defensive replacement for a team going into the playoffs. The playoffs are an ideal scenario for Ryan, where each game has massive weight and magnitude, and a late inning defensive gem could save a game. Please let this happen, for Ryan's sake. The world needs to see how legendary that glove has been.
Why a trade will happen
- There's going to be plenty of suitors and they know they won't have to pay much. As I said before, Ryan is a lame duck, and he's had at least some time to pass down defensive wisdom to Nick Franklin and Brad Miller. Ryan is stuck on the bench and won't play much the rest of the season. There isn't a starting spot for him on this team in future years either.
Why it won't
- They aren't going to get anything significant for Ryan. The return is likely going to be a C level minor league prospect at best, and while it seems nice to get something at all for a player almost certainly on his way out of town next year, it's not entirely unreasonable to think the team could just sit on Ryan and let him continue mentoring/performing impressions in the clubhouse for the remainder of the year.
Despite Brendan Ryan's shortcomings, he's been somewhat of a cult hero in Seattle over the past three seasons. What would you like the Mariners to do? Poll time!
More from Lookout Landing:
- The state of the sacrifice bunt in Seattle
- The 2013 Home Run Derby is here
- Get it done: Sign Kyle Seager to an extension
- When Taijuan Walker drank coffee
- 43-52: Mariners do thing to Angels, known colloquially as "sweep"