Priority numero uno
Reading the rumors today that the Dodgers and Tigers are possibly interested in trading for Jack Wilson, I couldn’t help but dream that they may also be interested in Yuniesky Betancourt. Let’s compare the two players…
Betancourt will be 27 next season and is coming off of a year in which he hit .279/.300/.392, good for a wOBA of .299. Despite holding a reputation as one of the best defensive shortstops, we know that’s not the case and defensive metrics back that up. His fielding bible plus/minus score was -19 and he ranked near the bottom of the list in David Pinto’s Probabilistic Model of Range.
Wilson, on the other hand, will be 31 next season and hit .272/.312/.348 last year, good for a wOBA of .293. They’re pretty identical hitters. Where Wilson sets himself apart is with his defense. He was at +16 last year, which ranked him fifth among all shortstops. Probabilistic Model of Range also showed him to be above-average, as he ranked 10th among his position there and Pirates fans backed that up in Tango’s Fans Scouting Report.
There’s also one major difference between the two that narrows the gap between the two playersâ€”price. Wilson is owed $7.25 million next year, with a $8.4 million option for 2010, although that’s unlikely to be picked up, as the buyout is only $600,000. Betancourt will cost $2 million this year, $3 million next year, $4 million in 2011 and has a club option for $6 million in 2012.
Wilson is a better player but, all things considered, there’s not that much difference and I could imagine many teams would actually prefer Betancourt considering the price tags attached. This is why Zduriencik should make dealing Betancourt his first priority at the winter meetings next week. The Cardinals are now out of the below-average shortstop market, but it sounds like the Tigers and Dodgers are still interested.
As Jeff pointed out at Lookout Landing the other day, replacing Betancourt’s production won’t be that hard. If they don’t want to or can’t upgrade, the M’s could simply take a flier on another stopgapâ€”someone like Nick Punto, Adam Everett or Cesar Izturis. Heck, even Luis Valbuena could probably duplicate YuBet’s production.