What To Do With Jeremy Reed
The Boston Globe reports this morning that the Red Sox are interested in dealing Matt Clement to the Mariners in a deal that would net them Jeremy Reed.
We’re pretty big Matt Clement fans. We lobbied for the team to sign him last year, and a year later, despite a disappointing performance, he’s still a more intriguing option for the rotation than anyone on the free agent market. However, since the Red Sox backloaded his contract, he is owed $19 million over the next two years.
We’ve discussed Reed to death around here. Yes, he had a poor rookie season with the bat, though his glove appeared to be better than most expected. However, he’s shown promise as a hitter, and there’s no reason to write off his offensive abilities after just 500 at-bats. All along, we’ve projected Reed as a .290/.370/.450 guy in his prime, and while he probably won’t hit that well in 2006, he’s a pretty good bet to improve, and he has a chance to imporve significantly. He also will make the league minimum next year.
Clement struggled with his command at times, and missed some time after getting hit in the head with a line drive, but overall, was an effective starter. He’s a groundballer who also can miss bats but you have to live with occassional bouts of wildness. Even in a mediocre-for-him season, he posted a Fielding Independant ERA of 4.08, which would have easily been the best of the non-Felix Mariners last year. So, there’s little doubt that Clement would be a big upgrade for the M’s rotation.
The question, as it was in the Betancourt-Tejada thread, is fairly simple; is the performance upgrade worth the cost in salary?
Lets look at Clement first. We’ll assume he throws 200 innings next year to make the math easy. If you think he’ll pitch significantly better in Safeco than he did in Fenway, we’ll assume he’d allow 80 runs. If you think he’ll pitch about as well as he did last year, that puts him on track for about 100 runs allowed. If he struggles, we’re looking at about 120 runs. So, depending on your level of optimism, you can peg Clement for something like 80-120 runs allowed.
A replacement level pitcher, in 200 innings, would allow 130 or so runs. For instance, Gil Meche would have given up 128 runs if he had pitched 200 innings last year. So, Clement will likely be worth something like 10 to 50 runs over a replacement level starting pitcher. I’d probably peg him for about 35 runs over replacement myself.
Now, for Reed. Last year, he was worth about 5 runs over a replacement level CF with his bat, and, depending on how you evaluate his defense, his glove was worth somewhere in the 10-15 run range, again, compared to a replacement level defender (some metrics have him way better than that, but the more I study Safeco, the more I think a lot of that was the park). So, Reed, even if he doesn’t improve, is something like 20 runs over replacement. I think most of us expect some improvement. If he hits even .270/.350/.400, he’d be something like 40 runs over a replacement level center fielder when you include his defense.
Based on their 2005 seasons, Clement was worth about about 2 wins more than Jeremy Reed. That’s not worth $9 million per season. Considering that, with even marginal improvement, Reed’s a good bet to be just as valuable as Clement will be, there’s no way I can justify swapping the two straight up.
I like Matt Clement, and I’m glad the M’s are looking into acquiring him. But not at the cost of Jeremy Reed.