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Basic summary: I think we overpaid, unless it comes out that the Pirates are picking up half of Wilson’s 2010 salary or something. I liked Snell as a good buy-low candidate, but I’m not sure this is buying low. We gave up a lot for two guys with a lot of question marks.
Long summary, reposted from FanGraphs:
Itâ€™s no secret that Iâ€™m both a Mariner fan and an Ian Snell fan, as Iâ€™ve been lobbying for the Mâ€™s to acquire the guy from Pittsburgh for the last two months. I laid my reasons for liking Snell at the time, and his Triple-A performance hasnâ€™t lessened my enthusiasm.
So, when the Mariners actually go out and trade for Snell, you would think Iâ€™d be a happy man. However, my first reaction when I heard about the deal that sent Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic, and Nathan Adcock to Pittsburgh for Snell and Jack Wilson was â€œyuckâ€.
Letâ€™s start with what the Mariners are getting. Wilson is a really good defensive shortstop who can hit well enough to justify his place in the line-up. Despite a lack of power and an aggressive approach at the plate, heâ€™s still been a +1.5 to +2.5 win player for most of his career. Heâ€™s essentially a league average shortstop, and at $7.25 million in salary for 2009 with a team option at $8.4 million for 2010, heâ€™s not overly expensive for what he is. Heâ€™s a solid role player who does enough things well to earn his contract and wonâ€™t hurt the team heâ€™s playing for.
But heâ€™s also 31 years old, and while heâ€™s not overly expensive, heâ€™s not a bargain either. Adam Everett is a similar player and signed a 1 year, $1 million deal with the Tigers last winter. Wilsonâ€™s salary makes him a small asset, not a big one. Heâ€™s not the kind of player the Mariners should be giving up significant pieces to attain.
So, that leaves Snell as the main piece of value coming back. While Iâ€™m a fan, I also saw him as a buy-low opportunity, as he was done in Pittsburgh and everyone knew it. Heâ€™s not an ace – heâ€™s a guy with good stuff and average to below average command and some well documented issues with his prior organization. I donâ€™t like the word headcase, but when youâ€™re talking about a guy who would rather pitch in Triple-A than the majors, itâ€™s hard to argue with.
Snellâ€™s contract is better than Wilsonâ€™s, as he makes just $4.25 million next year and then has two club options for 2011 and 2012 that could be bargains if he rebounds to prior form. But thereâ€™s obviously the risk that he wonâ€™t, and then youâ€™re looking at getting one year of Snell and letting him leave. He may be a long term assetâ€¦ or he might be a one year flop.
For two guys with minimal value, the Mariners parted with five young players.
Clementâ€™s the big name of the bunch, as a LH DH/1B/C? with power who had no future with the Mariners. He can hit righties, but his ability to do anything else is questionable. His knee problems have kept him from catching, and the bat might not be good enough to make him more than a solid 1B/DH type, especially if he canâ€™t figure out LHPs.
Cedeno is a solid utility infielder who plays good defense at SS/2B, but canâ€™t hit. Heâ€™s a nice role player, but basically the definition of replacement level.
Itâ€™s the three pitchers that the team gave up that pushes the deal in Pittsburghâ€™s favor. Pribanic and Lorin were the teams 4th and 5th round picks in 2008, and both had impressed in their first year as professionals.
Pribanicâ€™s an extreme groundball guy who throws strikes but lacks an out-pitch, so he profiles as a #5 starter or a good reliever. If his breaking ball improves, he could beat that upside, though.
Lorinâ€™s a good command guy with a nice breaking ball and an average fastball, plus some projectability as a big guy (6â€²7/250) who hasnâ€™t had much experience on the mound. If he adds a couple of MPH to his fastball, he could be a mid-rotation starter.
Adcock had struggled of late with his command, but as a 21-year-old with a decent fastball-curveball combination and the ability to get groundballs, heâ€™s also an interesting arm. Getting him out of High Desert should give Pittsburgh a better idea of where he stands right now.
Theyâ€™re all just decent pitching prospects instead of good ones, so the Mâ€™s gave up quantity over quality, but the old cliche about building a rotation by getting a ton of arms and seeing who sticks is really true. The Mâ€™s had done a good job of collecting an inventory of decent arms, and they just depleted that fairly heavily, while also giving up a LH power bat, for two guys with marginal value.
Pittsburgh is the easy winner of this deal, as they get some interesting young talent and shed some salary without losing much that will hurt them. The Mariners could still salvage this by moving Wilson before Fridayâ€™s deadline for a younger SS with more long term potential, but if they stand pat with Wilson as the teamâ€™s shortstop for 2009 and maybe 2010, color me disappointed.