One of the rumors that made the rounds while I was out of town was a quintessential Mariners rumor - the team looking at yet another right-handed "power bat" with terrible plate patience and minus defense. The M's are indicating some level of interest in Dayan Viciedo, and though I wish I could say I had no idea why, I do. The Mariners have a type (insert snarky hyperlinks to Mike Morse and Miguel Olivo here), and Viciedo is right up that alley.
People say Viciedo has plenty of raw power and upside, but it hasn't made any difference in his production. He's more or less been a replacement level ballplayer for each of his first two full seasons, amassing 0.2 fWAR between them. Here's what you need to know.
- Right-handed left fielder, aged 25
- Ok, well
- Pretty terrible
- Minus defender in left field (-3 career DRS, -9.3 UZR)
- Awful baserunner (-4.2 career BsR), zero steals the last two years
- Wildly impatient hitter (5.1% career walk rate), 12th worst among all qualified hitters over the last two years
- Unsurprisingly, doesn't get on base (.300 and .304 OBP the last two years)
- Strikes out a lot (21.5% K rate from 2012-2013)
- Solid power production (.168 career ISO)
- Lefty masher (.908 career OPS)
- Gets carved up by righties (.675 career OPS)
- Averaged 388.3 feet on his homers in 2013 (MLB average is 396.6)
- Not really a product of US Cellular - hits better on the road than at home
- Tends to spray his home runs, hitting 7 to left and 6 to right field in 2013, with only one to center
There's no reason to even be interested in Viciedo. It's a struggle to find anything positive to say about him, other than his ability to crush lefties. The Mariners already too many bad fielder corner outfielder/DH types on their roster, and their desperate quest for more hollow dingers with little else of value shouldn't extend to Viciedo. He'd be an instant downgrade from at least four current outfield options, and probably more - considering he's a replacement level player, the Mariners shouldn't give up any of their replacement talent to get him, let alone Michael Saunders.
Hearing Michael Saunders is a name that has been discussed in Dayan Viciedo talks with White Sox.— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) March 9, 2014
I don't want to read too much into rumors here. There could be more names involved, but that would require blind optimism. The Mariners have shown a real penchant for acquiring hitters exactly like Dayan Viciedo, so the idea that they might trade away a far better and more versatile outfielder in an already inflexible outfield isn't far-fetched, it's probable. Viciedo would make this outfield situation a complete disaster, and his acquisition would probably come at the expense of playing time for Dustin Ackley. Even if you think Viciedo carries some upside, his inability to provide value in any other way outside of his power means that his upside is capped.
I get that the Mariners want to balance out the lineup more, but adding a really mediocre player like Viciedo isn't going to help them win games - if they trade Saunders, it might actually help them lose more. If they aren't going to contend with this outfield, they aren't going to contend with Viciedo either - and if they are, they can shop for a right-handed bat at the deadline, preferably one that adds value in other ways. This team might get carved up by good lefties, but Viciedo just doesn't hit enough to make up his other flaws and be worth giving up anything of value for. At best, he's a 1/3 platoon player on a team that already has a semi-immobile right-handed power bat in Corey Hart. Besides, do you have confidence that the Mariners would acquire him and only start him against lefties? I don't.
It's the wrong player and the wrong time, but it's just so hauntingly Mariners to make a late deal like this. For all of our sakes, pray that this rumor is just noise, especially if it's for anything of value. If this is the kind of move they're focused on making now, don't make any at all.