In our continuing series of mini-articles on prospective free agents, I’m tackling Troy Glaus today. I’m hoping to knock out two more later this week. If you guys have any requests for players you think we may not discuss, bring them up in comments, and I’ll see what I can do.
For me, Troy Glaus has been on the verge of becoming a superstar for about six years now. I talked him up a great deal when he came out of UCLA as a shortstop, and his tear through the minors gave the appearance of a potential hall of fame slugger. In 2000, at age 23, he hit .284/.404/.604 and was tremendous defensively, making him worth about 11 to 12 wins over a replacement level third baseman. That’s an MVP type season, and at age 23, put Glaus in rare company.
Glaus has never gotten back to that level of productivity however, and his .284 average that season is beginning to look like an outlier. His BA in other seasons run .218, .240, .250, .250, .248, and .267. That’s a pretty consistent pattern of production, and when coupled with his high strikeout rates, he appears unlikely to post averages in the .280 mark with any kind of regularity. His power has remained consistant as measured by extra base hits as a percentage of total hits, basically a determination of how often he hits the crap out of the ball. In that 2000 season, 85 of his 160 hits, or about 53 percent, were extra base knocks. In 2001, when his BA, OBP, and SLG dropped to .250/.367/.531, 81 of his 147 hits, 55 percent, were extra base knocks. The decline wasn’t due to any loss of power, but simply a reversion to a lack of hitting singles that he’s displayed throughout his career.
Injuries have taken their toll on him the past few years, but he looked healthy in spring training. In April, I wrote “I have this feeling that (Glaus) is going to take the Carlos Delgado leap from good player with big time power to dominant, offensive wrecking ball.“. More shoulder problems ruined the makings of that career year for Glaus this season. He hit .270/.341/.662 in April and followed it up with a .353/.476/.765 May before more shoulder problems shut him down. He hasn’t been nearly the same hitter since returning in September, hitting just .207/.313/.431. Clearly, Glaus has shown throughout his career that when he’s healthy enough to make consistent contact, he can be a monster, one of the best hitters in the game, but his health is a legitimate concern at this point, and even when healthy, he still has not quite been the superstar that he could be.
BP’s PECOTA system projected a nice bounceback year from Glaus, but a plateau for most of the next few years with only a remote possibility of a return to his 2000 form. Glaus was projected to be worth between 3 and 4 wins above replacement for the next three years, with his decline coming around age 31, a bit earlier than most. His continuing shoulder problems and lack of playing time will probably make him even more comparable to Dale Murphy types who fell apart long before one would expect them to, based on normal aging patterns.
So, what about Glaus as a Mariner? He could certainly infuse the team with some needed power and production from third base, but the risk is very high. Between his apparently chronic health problems and near total reliance on his power for value, he’s not likely to age well. He should not be counted on to play well into his thirties, and giving him more than a two or three year contract looks like an unnecessary risk. Depending on how the market treats him, Glaus may actually prefer a one year deal this offseason, giving him another chance to have a big year and cash in while still in his prime.
Based on expected performance, Glaus should be worth about $8 million per season for the next few years, but he comes with considerable risk of returning nothing on that investment, likely knocking down his value in the marketplace. If he can’t find someone to give him a 3 year, $24 million deal (the top endof what I feel he should expect), I would be in favor of the M’s making a run at him with a 1 year deal for $8-$9 million and a club option for the second year. The potential is there to infuse the offense with needed power and, at worst, he’s a decent trade chip at the deadline. A one year deal for Glaus is relatively low risk with solid upside, but the Mariners would almost certainly have to outbid all other teams financially to convince him to take the trip up north for only one guaranteed year. However, I’m uncomfortable guaranteeing Glaus a significant part of the 2006 or 2007 budget, and his health problems make him virtually uninsurable.
I believe the Mariners should let Glaus know that they have interest in his services, but would like to let the market establish his value. If he decides to take a one year deal, he’s a good place to overpay, as he’ll come with more potential than just about any other player not getting a multiyear commitment. If he can find a team willing to sign him through 2007, however, wish him luck. That’s just a big commitment with a large unknown that the M’s don’t need to be making.