So, there’s some rumors kicking around (Baker confirms – signing is official) The position player that Zduriencik confirmed has been offered a contract by the M’s is Russell Branyan.
Branyan turns 33 in a few weeks, so he’s not a spring chicken, but he’s got serious power – a career ISO of .255. When he hits a fastball, he hits it a really, really long way. Like a lot of sluggers, however, he swings and misses. A lot. More than anyone in baseball not named Jack Cust – his career K% of 39.8% is staggeringly high. When you make contact that rarely, you just can’t hit for much of an average without a lot of luck – not surprisingly, Branyan’s a career .230 hitter.
He’s all about walks and home runs and hoping you can live with the strikeouts and the low batting average. Most teams can’t, so he’s never been given a full time job in the majors, but he’s been productive in limited action.
His MARCEL projection for 2009 is .234/.327/.465 – that’s probably pretty close to what you should expect from Branyan if the M’s made him their regular first baseman against RHP. He can’t hit lefties to save his life, so he’d have to be platooned. You’d probably want to have a defensive replacement for him as well, as he’s not a great glove guy.
Overall, Branyan’s a nice little role player, probably a +1 win guy compared to a replacement level first baseman. His ability to kinda sort play third base in a pinch is a nice bonus, and he’s the kind of hitter that Safeco was built for. On a one year, low money deal, he could be a decently productive stopgap until the organization finds their first baseman of the future.
The nice thing about a Branyan acquisition is that it wouldn’t stop them from getting other, more talented players at a later date. He’d fit in nicely as a reserve infielder/pinch hitter if they found a better, long term option at first base, and he’s used to coming off the bench, so you don’t have to worry about him throwing a fit if he’s not the starter come next summer.
Thumbs up for Zduriencik’s first signing – this is exactly the kind of move the Mariners need to be making.