Declining Options: Potential Hitting Fits for Baltimore

The offseason is a week old, and one of the very first orders of business for teams (or players) is to do decide whether or not they should pick up their contract options or cut bait and become free agents.  On Friday we took a look at the pitchers, so today we’ll look at some bats.  If I state that I think the team should make an offer, it doesn’t mean that they should do whatever it takes to sign them.  Due to the larger number of players, I’ll try to keep the explanations brief.

Infielders

Alexi Casilla ($3 million team option declined by Orioles)

As expected, Casilla did nothing with the bat in 2013, but made up for the lack of being able to hit a baseball by doing a good job of fielding it at 2B, and was essentially the definition of a replacement player.

Verdict: Make a minor league offer with an invite to spring training

Mark Ellis ($5.75 million team option declined by Dodgers)

I was surprised that the Dodgers declined what seemed to be a reasonable option on Ellis.  At this point in his career, Ellis is basically an average hitter (for a second baseman) with an above average glove that could be worth anywhere from 1 to 3 fWAR.  Matt Kremnitzer wrote a great piece about Ellis on Camden Depot last week, and I basically agree with his assessment.  I encourage you to head over there and check it out.

Verdict: Make an offer

Kurt Suzuki ($8.5 million team option declined by Athletics)

Suzuki has barely been better than replacement level the last two years, and hasn’t even sniffed being an average major league hitter since 2009.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Outfielders/DH

Lance Berkman ($12 million team option declined by Rangers)

After holding up surprisingly well for the Cardinals in 2011 (playing the outfield with regularity no less), Berkman has barely been on the field the last two years, and when he has, he hasn’t been all that good.  He’s likely looking at retirement, and even if he wasn’t, there probably isn’t much production left in him.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Franklin Gutierrez ($7.5 million team option declined by Mariners)

Remember when Gutierrez was worth 6.0 fWAR in 2009?  Neither do I.  I knew he was good that year, but holy crap that’s an outlier of a season.  Unfortunately since 2010, Gutierrez has barely played due to a number of injuries and ailments.  He won’t get on base much, but if healthy, he’ll give you great defense in any outfield position and a little bit of pop.

Verdict: Make a minor league offer with an invite to spring training

Reed Johnson ($1.6 million team option declined by Braves)

Johnson is coming off a bad year as a part time player, hitting .244/.311/.341 in 136 PA’s.  Over his career he’s been able to hit left handed pitching effectively, which will make some teams interested in his services.  However, at 37, I’m not sure he’d be worth a guaranteed roster spot compared to other options.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Jason Kubel ($7.5 million team option declined by Indians)

Kubel is a bat only outfielder, which is a nice way of saying he should only be playing DH.  He looked terrible in 2013, producing -1.6 fWAR, good enough for 312th place out of 316 batters with at least 250 PA’s.  Even a productive Kubel wouldn’t provide the Orioles with anything more than they already currently have in house.

Verdict: Do not make an offer

Andres Torres ($3 million team option declined by Giants)

Remember when Torres was worth 6.5 fWAR in 2010?  Neither do I.  I knew he was good that year, but holy crap that’s an outlier of a season.  Torres is a switch hitter that will give you value on the bases and at any outfield position, but the bat he carried in that magical 2010 season is never coming back.  Still, over his career he’s been a slightly above average hitter against left handers, so he may be a good option as a 4th outfielder who could spell Markakis (or McLouth, provided he returns) against a tough lefty.

Verdict: Make an offer

Chris Young ($11 million team option declined by Athletics)

Chris Young is another outfielder who had a bad 2013, hitting .200/.280/.379 in limited time with the A’s.  While that line looks bad, I’m still a believer in a guy who has shown to have 3.5 of the 5 tools (the arm is ok, and he’s missing the hit tool).  This needs a more in depth look, but my initial thought is to make him the starting LF for the 2014 Orioles.

Verdict: Make an offer

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