Yesterday, I talked about the trio of relievers we brought in. Then, in the afternoon, one more deal trickled through the cracks. We went back to the Miami Marlins well, this time for centerfielder Cameron Maybin.
Again, it’s not a huge deal (we gave up minor league infielder Bryson Brigman and some International Slot Money), but it’s something.
With Cano out, and Dee Gordon sliding back to second base, we’ve had what I’m told is a pretty big black hole out in center. Guillermo Heredia has gotten the lion’s share of starts and we’ve seen his offensive production slip pretty dramatically since starting off the season pretty strong. Most people had him pegged as – at best – a team’s 4th outfielder, and they don’t appear to be wrong. The league has seen enough of Heredia, and they KNOW how to get him out.
What’s surprising to me is that his defense is also not great? That really doesn’t pass my smell test, but I don’t get to watch all the games, so maybe I’m missing something. Also, “Smell Test” isn’t really a sabermetrically-sound way to determine who’s good and who’s not. The nerds will tell you Heredia isn’t helping matters even with his glove, and considering he was probably the best defensive centerfielder we’ve had all year, you can only imagine how much our outfield defense has declined when Haniger, Gamel, and Span have been out in center (saying nothing of Gordon, who I also thought was fine, but was indeed learning a brand new position at the Major League level).
So, how much of an upgrade is Maybin?
Well, he’s a veteran hitting .251 this year, as a mostly-everyday outfielder. I think that’s about what you can expect of him going forward (anything more than that is gravy). He’s 25 points or so better than Heredia (who’s trending ever downward the more he plays, so that number could increase as the season goes on), so right away we should expect a bit of an offensive boost. He’s in no way a power threat, so he’s more Denard Span than Mitch Haniger in that regard, and I GUESS you could say he’s a speed threat on the bases, but he’s only got 8 steals against 5 caught stealing this year, so that’s pretty far from elite. The best thing going for Maybin is that he walks pretty regularly, so he should be MUCH more of an on-base machine than Heredia. That, if nothing else, makes this a nice little upgrade to the offense.
Again, though, the big upgrade is coming in two weeks when Cano returns. There’s no way around it, Cano HAS to play everyday upon his return. If that means sitting Ryon Healy’s home-runs-every-10-days production, then so be it; the other 9 days he sucks, so that’s not a guy you HAVE to keep in your lineup.
I’ll say this about Maybin: he makes our lineup look a lot better:
- Gordon (2B)
- Segura (SS)
- Cano (1B)
- Cruz (DH)
- Seager (3B)
- Haniger (RF)
- Span (LF)
- Zunino (C)
- Maybin (CF)
There’s a lot you can do with a lineup like that. You can flip-flop Maybin and Gordon, for starters (as Gordon isn’t really tearing it up like he was earlier in the season). You can bump Segura up to the top and move Haniger to the 2-hole if need be (or Maybin in the 2-hole, or Span for that matter). There’s a lot of flexibility, is what I’m saying. As Maybin is a righty, you can always start Ben Gamel in his place in a pinch (if, again, you want to sacrifice some defense). I’m told Maybin is certainly an improvement in the field, but I’m also told he’s not some remarkable phenom or anything. As he is with his bat, he’s a marginal improvement over Heredia with his glove. Considering the cost (a low minor leaguer), it’s not too shabby for a guy who will be a free agent at the end of the year.
There is, of course, the potential for more deals in August (a la Mike Leake last year). These would be players who pass through waivers unclaimed (most likely due to onerous contract situations). Everyone talks about the money saved by Cano’s suspension as a catalyst for getting more of these types of deals done (maybe for another starter?), but we’ve made a bunch of deals already! There can’t be all that much money left!
If we see a deal that takes on significant salary, I’d be willing to bet the team is going into the red, which is admirable. Let’s hope it pays off.