Phillies Sign Laynce Nix

Comcast SportsNet’s Jim Salisbury with the goods on Twitter:

Phillies have reached agreement with free agent Laynce Nix, sources tell CSNphilly.com. Deal is pending physical. [Link]

Nix deal w Phillies is for two years, sources say. [Link]

Bill:

As mentioned here, the Phillies were rummaging through the free agent market for a left-handed outfielder. Although there were quite a few on the market, GM Ruben Amaro likes to act swiftly rather than waiting for the market to settle.

Nix possesses decent power, especially when he is used off of the bench. In 2009 with the Cincinnati Reds, Nix posted a .236 isolated power over 337 plate appearances. Last year, his ISO was .201 in 351 PA. He is not one for plate discipline, with a career walk rate under six percent. Depending on how he is used — whether solely as a bench bat or as part of a platoon in left field — that may or may not become an issue. Nix hits right-handed pitching significantly better — his career .317 wOBA (including .334-.341 in the past three years) against them is 90 points higher than his career production against southpaws, so a platoon may be a possibility.

Defensively, Nix grades out well according to UZR and Total Zone, found on FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, respectively.  In 1371 innings in left field, Nix has a +5 UZR/150; +9 in center over 1771 innings. Per Total Zone, Nix saved 11 runs in 2009, 12 runs in 2010, and five runs last year.

As Salisbury reported, the deal is for two years, which is questionable even without knowing the specific dollar amount. Still, the deal is going to be small enough where its relative impact whether good or bad will be quite small. David DeJesus, a better player by all accounts, recently signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, so the Nix deal should come in under that. While I would have preferred Johnny Damon or Jason Kubel, they both may have been just a bit too expensive to fit in the Phillies’ budget under the $178 million luxury tax threshold. All in all, it’s hard to react to this signing with anything more than a shoulder shrug.

Ryan:

Raul Ibanez, 2009-2011: .264/.329/.469, 111 OPS+
Laynce Nix, 2009-2011: .254/.306/.461, 104 OPS+

At least Nix will be what Ibanez should have been in 2011: a backup. In addition, he can theoretically play center field with some competence, although probably not much better than John Mayberry, Jr. could. Giving marginal bench players two year deals is now an established Ruben Amaro tradition, so I won’t feign surprise at that. I’ll wait until there is some news of the salary amount before passing final judgment, but it seems like another unnecessary signing that won’t really affect the team’s financial flexibility but doesn’t bode well for future talent evaluation.

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38 comments

  1. Greg

    December 05, 2011 10:33 AM

    What is wrong with John Mayberry? I keep reading that he is okay, or someone is not much better than.. John Mayberry if left to play a full season will no doubt take over the 4th batting position.

  2. LTG

    December 05, 2011 12:48 PM

    “In addition, he can theoretically play center field with some competence, although probably not much better than John Mayberry, Jr. could.”

    This is about Mayberry’s ability to play CF specifically and not his fit as an everyday hitter at a less taxing defensive position.

    From what I can tell, most believe Mayberry will be a solid everyday contributor in the lineup (and better than anyone yet signed in the off-season), although whether he will prove worthy of the 4-hole is not certain. He’s still only produced for 3/5 of a season after all. In order to keep his value he’ll have to continue with his increased BB% and his very decreased K%.

  3. Andrew R.

    December 05, 2011 01:08 PM

    I really believe, that Mayberry is the next Jayson Werth-type player. Late bloomer, but will eventually be a solid guy. I think the Nix signing should definately light a fire under his butt to prove that he can hit righties and should be in there no matter what. The Nix signing just gives us another quality back-up with some much needed pop off the bench.

    I guarantee this year’s bench with Thome, Nix, Wigginton will be far more productive than last year’s, both offensively and defensively. I love these little signings that seem to go unnoticed or get shrugged off.

    I wouldn’t quite put Mayberry in the 4-hole either. He seems like he could be a nice piece to a strong lineup. But it would be nice if he can hone his obp skills and maybe bat 2 or 3 with Utley in the other spot. But who knows, the off-season is far from over.

  4. KH

    December 05, 2011 01:08 PM

    I now have my new favorite RAJ quote. “I’m not a stat guy”. I may be paraphrasing it but our man Rube actually said something very close to that recently. This signing is proof of that. If he can pull off Aramis Ramirez with a non-heart attack contract I’ll forgive him.

  5. hk

    December 05, 2011 01:46 PM

    “While I would have preferred Johnny Damon or Jason Kubel, they both may have been just a bit too expensive to fit in the Phillies’ budget under the $178 million luxury tax threshold.”

    This is the opportunity cost of overpaying Howard, Papelbon, etc. The Phils have to sign or trade for cheap options (Wigginton and Nix) for the bench, yet those cheap options will probably get 600 or more plate appearances next year.

  6. Andrew R.

    December 05, 2011 02:14 PM

    @hk– Although I agree about sometimes overpaying, I don’t think a 38-year old Johnny Damon, or Jason Kubel who only really had 1 good year would be the answer.

    If Nix gives us two solid years of strong defense and 15-homers each year, I don’t see the problem in it. I don’t think he’ll end up with 600 at-bats.

  7. jauer

    December 05, 2011 02:52 PM

    I think he meant Nix and Wigginton will combine for 600 PAs in 2012

  8. hk

    December 05, 2011 03:15 PM

    Andrew R.,

    jauer is correct…I meant 600 PA’s combined between Nix and Wigginton. By the way, Mayberry has a higher career ISO and a higher career wOBA vs. RHP’s than Nix (and significantly higher woBA and ISO than Nix vs. LHP’s), so I would have preferred Kubel and his .356 wOBA vs. RHP’s if the intent was to have a platoon partner for JMJ.

  9. Phillie697

    December 05, 2011 03:31 PM

    @Greg,

    Ahm, I think your “criticism” is misplaced, especially in this crowd. Heck, *I* was the one advocating trading Victorino and penciling in Mayberry at CF. Does that sound like someone who thinks there is something “wrong” with Mayberry?

    @Andrew R,

    Again you’re counting past events as a done deal and therefore irrelevant to the discussion. Had we not signed Papelbon, why couldn’t we have signed DeJesus instead of Nix?

    @LTG,

    I’d settle for occupying his office.

  10. Phillie697

    December 05, 2011 03:34 PM

    You know, if Polanco has played brilliantly at both 2B and 3B, why hasn’t anyone tried to see if he can be an above average defensive SS? If he can successfully give us above average defense at SS, his offensive production would be more than acceptable.

  11. Phillie697

    December 05, 2011 03:38 PM

    Sorry for the multiple posts…

    This most definitely means Dom Brown is stuck in AAA for the entire year. Forget #OccupyRAJ. How about #FreeDomBrown?

  12. Josh G

    December 05, 2011 03:55 PM

    I like the idea of trying Polanco out at SS. Usually we hear of SS -> 2B or 3B, but is there evidence that it can go the other way?

  13. Rob SJ

    December 05, 2011 04:14 PM

    You pretty much never hear of a player converting from any position to shortstop. My guess is that is because it takes so much practice and so much skill to play SS that: 1- you can’t pick it up quickly, and 2 – if you had the skills to play SS, you already would have been playing there before you turned 35. Seems unlikely to me that Polanco would play SS on anything short of an emergency basis.

  14. LTG

    December 05, 2011 10:15 PM

    Crazy talk time:

    Did the Phillies make a bid on Nakajima? Is that why they are suddenly so interested in Ramirez?

  15. Phillie697

    December 05, 2011 11:42 PM

    Oh god I sure hope not. I mean we’re rich but we’re not THAT rich.

    Although explain to me why bidding on Nakajima would make us interested in Ramirez? I am assuming Nakajima would cost a pretty penny to begin with, although I suppose the posting fees wouldn’t be counted against the luxury tax cap, right?

  16. hk

    December 06, 2011 07:41 AM

    I’m on board with #FreeDomBrown. They might as well trade him while they’ve only mostly devalued him and before they totally ruin his value by keeping him in AAA for another year.

  17. LTG

    December 06, 2011 09:05 AM

    Yeah, posting fees don’t count against luxury tax. I assert this without doing any research. Hold on…Yes, the posting fee does not count against the teams total payroll.

  18. Phillie697

    December 06, 2011 09:14 AM

    Assuming his offensive numbers translate well to ML (he should still hit about .750 OPS imo), does anyone know his defense? Most that I’ve read says he’s athletic, but has “issues” when playing the field. Even if he’s, say, average defensively, is he going to worth the money that’s needed to sign him? He’ll definitely count less than JRoll or Reyes for luxury tax purposes, but then again, because of the posting fee, it’s LIKE paying a luxury tax anyway.

  19. Phillie697

    December 06, 2011 09:17 AM

    @hk,

    Well the jury is still out on ruining his value by keeping him in AAA. If he hits like he did the first half of last season in AAA, the only person who’ll devalue him on the planet will be RAJ.

  20. hk

    December 06, 2011 09:47 AM

    @ Phillie697,

    Not that ESPN.com‘s Keith Law is the final authority on young players, but I do respect his opinion. FWIW, he excluded Dom from his list of top 50 playes who are under age 25 and who no longer qualify for ROY because of the way that the Phils have mishandled him. I’m not sure whether that opinion is solely Law’s or if it is based on his conversations with other scouts and FO personnel, but even if it is just Law’s opinion, that is a huge fall from grace for the guy that Law had ranked as a top 5 prospect heading into last season.

  21. Phillie697

    December 06, 2011 10:07 AM

    That list was filled with ML players. It doesn’t mean much for Dom, since he has never really been given a chance. It’s one thing when he was just being compared to prospects, it’s another when he’s being compared to people who have jobs in the majors. He goes wOBA .400 again in AAA, no one will think he’s a bust, except RAJ.

  22. Phillie697

    December 06, 2011 10:24 AM

    @hk,

    So Reyes is 6/106. Doesn’t make my 5/70 for JRoll sound all that far-fetched now, does it?

  23. hk

    December 06, 2011 10:57 AM

    @ Phillie697,

    While it is filled with MLB players, many of them (a) were ranked below Dom when they were prospects and (b) don’t have many more MLB plate appearances than Dom. Knowing how much emphasis Law places on production relative to position, it is disappointing to see 1B’s like Freddy Freeman and Justin Smoak on the list and it is also disappointing to see that Dom is below OF’s like Gerardo Parra, Ben Revere, Travis Snider and Michael Brantley. Here’s hoping that Law is wrong in regards to Dom.

    As far as JRoll’s contract is concerned, since Reyes got 6/106, I agree that Jimmy looks like he’ll end up closer to your prediction of 5/70 than my prediction of 4/46 or 5/52.5. If he does get 5/70, I hope it is not from the Phillies.

  24. LTG

    December 06, 2011 11:10 AM

    hk,

    Are any of the players on Law’s list projected to spend the up-coming season in AAA?

  25. hk

    December 06, 2011 11:55 AM

    LTG,

    No. However, Law writes in his intro that his rankings are based on his projections for the next six years, not just how they each performed in 2011 or what he expects from them in 2012.

  26. LTG

    December 06, 2011 03:57 PM

    More crazy talk:

    What happens if Madson accepts arbitration?

  27. hk

    December 06, 2011 04:33 PM

    If Madson accepts arbitration, they would probably trade him. Madson on a one year deal might be very attractive to teams looking for a closer (i.e. Boston), but not willing to give a long-term deal. This is what Atlanta did when Rafael Soriano unexpectedly accepted arbitration a few years ago.

  28. Phillie697

    December 06, 2011 08:10 PM

    Unlike Ibanez, Phillies would be better off if Madson accepts arbitration. Instead of getting draft picks, they will be able to trade him for established minor-league players.

    Or… Can we trade Papelbon instead? ROFL

  29. Phillie697

    December 06, 2011 08:17 PM

    Actually, this just made me think… Has any team gamed the system and worked with another team to have that team “sign” a Type A FA (to a contract the first team agreed to), therefore generating compensatory picks for the first team, and then have the second team trade the FA back to the 1st team for some agreed-upon compensation (presumably some way of equally dividing up the compensatory picks)? Of course, not doable anymore under the new CBA, but wonder if anyone has done it.

  30. hitting drills

    December 06, 2011 08:41 PM

    I really think he’ll be a good fit. Palanco was a good defensive player preciscly because he only played 2b and 3b. Players that can play SS everyday are an entirely different breed.

  31. Chris

    December 06, 2011 10:38 PM

    I remember looking at Nix play in a few games last year and thought he’d be a good bench piece (with Gload torque-ing his hip every swing) and bam…there’s Ruben reading my mind again.

  32. JB Allen

    December 07, 2011 10:38 AM

    I’m looking forward to Michael Lewis goofing on RAJ in Moneyball II.

  33. hk

    December 07, 2011 11:31 AM

    LTG,

    We better expedite #OccupyRAJ before the #FreeDomonicBrown occurs.

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