M’s Interested In Luke Scott?
A conversation with a friend tonight revealed some rumblings that haven’t been reported yet, so I’ll toss this out there with the usual caveats – I’m not a reporter, I don’t claim to be, and this is third hand information, so take it with the appropriate amount of salt.
The M’s have apparently had talks with the Orioles regarding Luke Scott, and if the rumblings are true, he could be pretty high up on their list. He makes an awful lot of sense for the M’s, so this one certainly passes the logic test.
As a 31-year-old outfielder, he’s not exactly a cornerstone of the Orioles foundation. In fact, due to their logjam of outfielders, they’re not even really sure where he’s going to play next year. Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie are expected to split the LF job, leaving Scott as a 1B/DH, even though he played less than a dozen games at first base last year and his glove is wasted when he’s not playing the field.
As a guy headed to arbitration for the second time, coming off a $2.4 million salary for 2009, he’s at the point where his salary is too prohibitive for Baltimore to keep him around as a part-time player. He’ll probably make $4 million or so in 2010 – still less than what he’s worth, but too much for a team who isn’t sure where to put him. So, he’s available.
And he’s pretty much exactly what the M’s are looking for – a power hitter with some defensive value and versatility who also has the approach at the plate they’re preaching. Scott’s a career .264/.350/.494 hitter, drawing most of his value at the plate from his patience and power. At the plate, he’s like Russ Branyan dialed back a few degrees – not quite as many walks or strikeouts and a bit less power, but the same general player type.
Scott also offers a pretty decent glove in the outfield, though – in 2,500 innings between left and right, his career UZR is +10.6, which is about +5 runs per full season. Given that he’s headed for his 32nd birthday, you’ll want to project some erosion in his defensive skills, but he’s still likely be to average-ish out there. He won’t hurt you with the glove, though, and that’s not easy to find in a guy who can slug .500.
His willingness to play first base – he was recently quoted as saying that he felt that if you gave him spring training to improve, he thinks he could be pretty good there – offers the kind of flexibility the M’s are clearly looking for this winter. He could end up starting in left field if Saunders doesn’t claim the job in spring training, start at first if the team can’t find the right fit in free agency (or that right fit ends up on the DL), or DH on a day where the M’s want to run out an all-defense team and still have some punch in the line-up.
Acquiring Scott would let the M’s take some health gambles at 1B/DH. Or it would give them the chance to make Carp and Saunders fight for one starting job, if they wanted to go young at either 1B/LF but not both. His salary is low enough that he wouldn’t stand in the way of other pursuits, and he shouldn’t cost so much in talent that it’s prohibitive to acquire him. Since the team is in the market for a +2 win LF/1B/DH who won’t break the bank, Scott seems to fit the bill better than anyone else.
He hasn’t been talked about much so far this winter, but I have a feeling we might be hearing his name quite a bit more over the next week or two.