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Let's Get Creative: The Right Field Hole

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Jack Zduriencik says the Mariners need to get creative to fill their right field hole. Let's take a look at the options left on the market.

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Another one bites the dust. Over the weekend, Melky Cabrera agreed to a three-year contract worth $42 million with the White Sox. After being heavily connected to the Mariners, Cabrera ended up signing with another team reducing the options to fill the Mariners' right field hole. The outfield free agent market is much thinner without Cabrera making the trade market seem like a decent bet.

On Friday, Jack Zduriencik said on ESPN 710 that the club needed "to get a little creative" to fill the hole in right field. On Sunday, Greg Johns posted his thoughts on the various options the Mariners could pursue to fill that hole. There were a number of names thrown out there and many of them are familiar. I wanted to quickly address the projections for each of the options Johns threw out there to see if there are any clear cut options that the Mariners would do well to pursue.

Note: all projections are from Steamer/600 to even out playing time differences. I've also included a weighted three-year UZR sample for each player to give a better idea of how they grade out as a fielder. Where possible I used UZR numbers for innings played in right field exclusively but I also mixed in left field numbers if I needed a bigger sample size. I used three years because advanced fielding metrics are notoriously unstable and figured that three weighted years was a large enough sample. All salaries for arbitration eligible players come via MLB Trade Rumors.

First, I'll cover the free agents that are still available.

Name

Bats

AB

ISO

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

3-yr UZR

WAR

Colby Rasmus

L

538

.185

.233

.300

.417

101

-0.8

1.8

Nori Aoki

L

537

.092

.279

.343

.371

104

4.3

1.5

Chris Denorfia

R

544

.121

.263

.319

.384

98

5.8

1.5

Alex Rios

R

561

.134

.260

.298

.394

92

-0.6

0.7

Mike Morse

R

549

.184

.259

.312

.444

112

-11.1

0.7

Jonny Gomes

R

519

.147

.228

.323

.375

99

-3.2

0.2

Delmon Young

R

559

.147

.259

.300

.406

97

-4.1

-0.2

Colby Rasmus hasn't been mentioned in many rumors this offseason and he's coming off a pretty terrible year where he lost his starting position by September. He's played center field most of his career so if he were to play right field, his defensive numbers should gain a boost. He would also serve as insurance if Austin Jackson can't figure things out.

Nori Aoki seems to be the name all of you want to see connected with the Mariners. He would probably be a serviceable option who would come at a pretty low cost. Interestingly, he has a reverse split over his major league career so he wouldn't necessarily be contributing to the abundance of lefties in the Mariners' lineup.

Chris Denorfia probably won't be signed to fill a full-time gig. He could make a decent platoon option but the Mariners just saw two months of that and probably didn't come away impressed.

Alex Rios is another name that comes up often when discussing who could fill our right field hole but he has his warts. Steamer thinks he'll be just above replacement level in 2015 despite being worth 3.1 WAR as recently as 2013. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a projection for him, too, since he's been so inconsistent over his career. He dealt with his fair share of injuries last year which, as we've seen too intimately, could affect his value.

At this point, Mike Morse and Jonny Gomes are probably designated hitters and shouldn't see any time in the outfield. And Delmon Young? Just no.

So there are a few decent options left in the free agent market but nothing outstanding. What about right-handed outfielders available via trade?

Name

Bats

AB

ISO

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

3-yr UZR

WAR

Yrs Remaining

Salary Remaining

Justin Upton

R

526

.198

.262

.344

.460

126

-1.5

3.0

1

$14.5 M

Shane Victorino

R

544

.146

.268

.324

.414

105

8.8

2.9

1

$13 M

Daniel Nava

S

525

.124

.267

.348

.391

108

2.5

1.6

Arb-1

($1.9 M)

Allen Craig

R

545

.159

.277

.335

.436

115

-4.7

1.6

3

$25.5 M

Drew Stubbs

R

539

.155

.259

.323

.414

91

-0.4

1.2

Arb-3

($5.7 M)

Dayan Viciedo

R

551

.178

.252

.303

.430

103

-8.0

0.7

Arb-2

($4.4 M)

Marlon Byrd

R

553

.150

.243

.292

.394

90

2.6

0.4

1

$8 M

I've already covered the cost of Justin Upton. Even if you think I'm overvaluing our pitching prospects, the Braves' asking price for Upton is just too high. This is a trade situation we would do well to avoid.

The Red Sox were pretty busy last week and relieved some of their outfield logjam but they've still got too many outfielders on their roster. Shane Victorino is projected for a similar amount of value at a similar salary figure as Upton but he shouldn't cost as much talent from the Mariners. Daniel Nava is cheap and under team control for another three years. However, if he gets a starting role, his arbitration salaries are going to skyrocket. I doubt the Red Sox will be willing to give up Nava since he provides so much flexibility. Allen Craig is also under contract for three years but at a much higher cost. He shouldn't see much time in the outfield either but he shouldn't cost much talent to acquire.

The projection for Drew Stubbs assumes that he's going to be batting in Coors Field next year. Move him out of that stadium and his value drops significantly.

Scott already discussed Dayan Viciedo and the verdict was pretty unfavorable. He could make a decent platoon partner but not if the Mariners have to part with any significant talent to get him.

Marlon Byrd was rumored to be a target at the trade deadline last year but nothing came of it. Now a year older, Byrd still doesn't seem like a good option.

A few more decent options but nothing stands out as a great fit. Let's take a look at some of the left-handed outfielders who could be had via trade.

Name

Bats

AB

ISO

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

3-yr UZR

WAR

Yrs Remaining

Salary Remaining

Seth Smith

L

522

.159

.248

.336

.407

114

-0.8

1.7

2

$13 M

Gerardo Parra

L

543

.121

.260

.319

.381

92

10.2

1.6

Arb-3

($6.4 M)

Travis Snider

L

535

.159

.256

.325

.415

110

-1.4

1.5

Arb-2

($2 M)

Andre Ethier

L

531

.144

.262

.337

.406

111

-0.8

1.2

3

$53.5 M

David Murphy

L

540

.136

.257

.320

.393

104

-0.6

1.2

1

$6 M

With the Padres trading for Matt Kemp, I'd think Seth Smith is off the table. The Padres also just signed an extension with Smith that begins in 2015 so it would seem silly of them to trade him now.

Here's my personal favorite, Gerardo Parra. The Brewers have four outfielders on their roster and Parra is getting too expensive to be a fourth outfielder. For his part, Parra is projected to be great in the field but just adequately underwhelming at the plate. He probably doesn't fit what the Mariners are looking for but he'd be my pick if the Mariners went this route.

Snider has a long injury history but has developed into a pretty good left-handed batter. He could work in a platoon and wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. He also has a local connection as he was born in Kirkland and graduated from Jackson High School.

Andre Ethier doesn't have a position on the Dodgers but he's being paid like he should have one. Simply put, he's too expensive for the value he would provide. Pass.

David Murphy could also serve as a reasonable platoon partner.  He's oscillated between very good years at the plate and very bad years so it's hard to get a read on what he might bring next year. His fielding numbers also took a dive last year. He doesn't stand out among any of the other options.

***

Over the next few days, I'll take a look at a few of these options and how they could fit on the Mariners. The good thing about many of these players is, if the Mariners decide to be patient, most of these guys should be available later on for a similar or lower cost. Now that a few of the major dominos have fallen, the Mariners have the opportunity to wait for the perfect fit before making a move. There's no reason for Jack Zduriencik to feel pressured to make a move now, as much as we'd like him to. His public comments affirm this belief.

The Mariners still have some shopping to do, but now, they've got time to make sure they pick out the right fit.