Weighing the Pros and Cons of IF Trade Targets

With Chase Utley sidelined and Freddy Galvis slated for an Opening Day start, it is no secret that the Phillies are looking to acquire an infielder via trade. Despite a barren farm system, the Phillies do have two trade chips in Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick. Blanton, earning $8.5 million in the final year of his contract, is recovering from an elbow injury, but has looked sharp in ten inning this spring. Likewise, Kendrick signed a  a two-year, $7.5 million deal during the off-season and looks ready to go. The one object in a trade involving one of the two is the money — the Phillies would have to cover about $6 million with Blanton and likely at least $2 million in both 2012-13 for Kendrick.

What infielders might be available for the Phillies? Let’s take a look.

Alberto Callaspo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Pros

  • Versatility. Callaspo can play second and third base, which would cover Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. He can also play shortstop in a pinch, but only 195 of his 4,568 career defensive innings (four percent) have been at shortstop.
  • Defense. He has been a plus defender in two out of his three full seasons according to UZR, and in all three according to Baseball Reference.
  • Gets on base. He posted a .366 on-base percentage last year with a career-high 11 percent walk rate.
  • Makes contact. He struck out in less than eight percent of his career 2,208 plate appearances.
  • Arb-eligible. Callaspo will enter his third year of arbitration in 2013, meaning the Phillies could have control of him for two seasons. However, this also makes him more expensive to acquire in a trade.

Cons

  • No power. His career .080 ISO over the last three seasons puts him in the same company as Jack Wilson, Skip Schumaker, and Emilio Bonifacio.
  • Doesn’t steal bases. He has stolen a measly 18 bases in 26 attempts (69 percent) in his career, despite hitting 416 singles and drawing 173 walks in his career.
  • Too many fly balls. For a hitter with so little power, he puts too many batted balls in the air, which explains his .295 career BABIP.
  • No shortstop. As mentioned above, Callaspo can play shortstop, but it doesn’t mean he’ll do it well. To quote a scouting report from Royals Review:

Unfortunately, his defensive abilities at shortstop are underwhelming at best. He simply doesn’t possess good enough instincts, arm, or glove to truly be relied upon as a force on the left side of the field.

Maicer Izturis, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Pros

  • Doubles. Izturis doesn’t possess much power, but he does hit the ball in the gaps. He doubled 35 times last year, bringing him up to 135 in his career (21 percent of his hits).
  • Speed. He is no Vince Coleman, but he can steal bases in the double-digits while surpassing the 70-75 percent break-even rate.
  • Versatile. Izturis can play second and third base as well as shortstop, and he’s about equally as good at all three positions. UZR has him at a +5.0 at second (1,775 innings), +4.7 at third (2,015 innings), and +6.2 at shortstop (1,332 innings).

Cons

  • Money. Izturis is making $3.8 million in 2012 before becoming a free agent.
  • Pop-ups. Nearly ten percent of his fly balls have failed to leave the infield over the course of his career, cutting into his production.
  • Injured. He missed about two weeks of spring training due to leg tightness, which may have some lasting effects during the season.

Mike Aviles, Boston Red Sox

Pros

  • Makes contact. He struck out in just over 13 percent of his plate appearances in his brief career.
  • Versatile. He can play at second, third, and short.
  • Light power. The right-hander’s career .131 ISO isn’t earth-shattering, but he would be good for 25-30 doubles in 600 PA.
  • Steals bases occasionally. 28 steals in 37 attempts (76 percent) in each of the past two seasons.
  • Cheap and under control. He will earn $1.2 million this year, avoiding his first year of arbitration. The Phillies would have control of him through 2014.

Cons

  • Swings away. He has drawn walks in only four percent of his plate appearances.
  • Defense. Aviles is versatile, but doesn’t play any position particularly well.

Robert Andino, Baltimore Orioles

Pros

  • Defense. The samples are relatively small, but most reports  and stats indicate that Andino plays above-average at both second base and shortstop.
  • Speed? Prior to last year, Andino was an unimpressive 6-for-10 stealing bases with 66 singles and 28 walks. However, he stole 13 bases in 16 attempts last year alone.
  • Price and control. Andino is earning $1.3 million and will be arbitration eligible for the second and third time in 2013-14, respectively.

Cons

  • No offense. He doesn’t hit for average, he doesn’t get on base, and he has no power. His career batting line is only marginally better than what Michael Martinez posted last year.
  • Whiffs. Andino has struck out in over 19 percent of his 951 career plate appearances.

Blake DeWitt, Chicago Cubs

Pros

  • Versatile. DeWitt can play second, third, and left field.
  • Marginal power. In 600 PA, he could be good for 10 HR and 20 doubles.
  • Walks. He has drawn walks in about nine percent of his plate appearances.

Cons

  • Defense. Although he is verstile, he doesn’t play any position at even an average level.
  • Bad contact skills. Career .260 average and 16 percent strikeout rate. He has a career 15 percent infield fly ball rate, the 12th-highest rate in the National League since 2008.
  • Reverse platoon split:
  • vs. LHP: .290 AVG, .373 OBP, .440 SLG in 228 PA
  • vs. RHP: .254 AVG, .318 OBP, .373 SLG in 985 PA

Chris Getz, Kansas City Royals

Pros

  • Fast. 62-for-74 stealing bases over his career spanning 1,099 PA.
  • Cheap. Earning under $1 million and is arbitration-eligible in each of the next two seasons.

Cons

  • No offense. A complete inability to make quality contact has led to a carer .290 wOBA.
  • Second base only. 2,349 of his career 2,384 defensive innings have come at second base.

There is no clear-cut target on the list and some pieces need to fall into place for any deal to get done. For instance, the Red Sox would need to be convinced that prospect Jose Iglesias can hold down the everyday job at shortstop in Aviles’ absence. Currently, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Additionally, the Angels don’t have a pressing need for Blanton, so the Phillies would need to give them another reason to relinquish Callaspo or Izturis. It is just not a great time to be shopping around for infield help if you’re the Phillies.

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19 comments

  1. Moose

    March 23, 2012 08:08 AM

    Thanks for these Bill, good to see everyone broken down like that. I sent you an email yesterday asking your opinion on Mark Reynolds. According to MLBTR he’s being shopped and I thought it’d be a decent match. He’s a butcher in the field, but he walks around 11-12% of the time and has a career ISO of .246. His BABIP was pretty far off his career average the past 2 years, and while I understand BABIP decrease the more a player strikes out, he still managed a BABIP over .320 in his first 3 years despite K% over 30. Even with the two low BABIP years he managed acceptable wOBAs of .328 and .348. I can’t imagine the Orioles are asking a ton for him, and his salary matches up well with Blanton’s. The Phillies could slot him in at first with Mayberry in left, or at third and allow Polanco to shift over to second. Interested in hearing some thoughts on this Reynolds idea.

  2. Ryan

    March 23, 2012 08:29 AM

    I’m hearing that Utley needs microfracture…possibly on both knees. This makes aheckuva lot more sense than the tendinitis bs which, according to all accounts, should not be this bad.

  3. Ryan

    March 23, 2012 08:38 AM

    Microfracture might be the best thing that could happen instead of having him continually attempting to come back at part strength. It’s a pretty well known surgery with a good success rate. I say fix the problem and get him back as close to full strength as possible for 2013!

  4. Patrick

    March 23, 2012 11:25 AM

    What about Chris Nelson from the Rockies. He is a shortstop but has played second and third base for them. I think with him playing everyday that he will produce in the phils lineup.

  5. Dale

    March 23, 2012 11:59 AM

    The Reds have a bunch of decent looking utility infielders, one of which used to be yours. They will only be able to keep one or two out of about four or five. I suspect they’d be more interested in prospects than Blanton or Kenrick.

  6. Bob

    March 23, 2012 12:18 PM

    I like Mark Trumbo of the Angels. He has been mentioned in trade talks. He played 1B in his rookie year (age 25) last year and hit 29HR’s with 89 RBI’s. Then are trying him at 3b this year. Just what we need, youth, power and under control until 2017 so he is cheap. Get it done RAJ.

  7. Rob SJ

    March 23, 2012 02:19 PM

    Ryan, where are you hearing this? I mean, I’ve heard “experts” speculate about this on the radio, but is this a real report, or a guessing game? I’m no expert, but double microfracture doesn’t make me feel any better about Utley playing baseball again.

    Although they clearly need a utility infielder, I don’t see them trading for a starter. It just hasn’t been Amaro’s MO to trade at the beginning of the season, he’s been more willing to see what they can do with what they have, and adjust as the trade deadline approaches. Obviously this could change if they are falling off the pace, but I don’t expect an early season trade for a starting IF.

  8. Jim Spellane

    March 23, 2012 02:24 PM

    Are any of these guys worth a decent pitcher like Blanton or Kendrick? Are any of them really that much better than using Galvis, Wigginton and Orr? Those guys can hit pop-ups and for low average now; why get more guys who do the same? Polly won’t be out that long.

  9. Michael

    March 23, 2012 02:42 PM

    I looked at the link for Bonafacio & he seems like a better option than any of the above. Would he be that much harder to obtain? Not sure The Marls would trade him to us except at a premium though.

  10. juan

    March 23, 2012 03:22 PM

    what about Miguel Tajada

  11. PLC

    March 23, 2012 03:31 PM

    Maybe RAJ should approach the Mets for David Wrighte and put Polanco at second?

  12. Josh

    March 23, 2012 04:01 PM

    Blanton is terrible.

  13. Moose

    March 23, 2012 04:01 PM

    PLC, no. please be kidding

  14. Pete

    March 23, 2012 06:00 PM

    Maybe the Giants. Burris is having a great spring (again), and they also have Fontenot and Theriot (who they won’t give up, I’m guessing, cuz he’s going to end platooning with Crawford at SS). Freddie Sanchez probably will be on the DL to start the season. But the Giants could use Blanton now that Vogelsong will probably miss the first few weeks, and Zito has has shown that he’s a liability until proven otherwise. It might mean that the Giants have to take on more of Blanton’s salary to make it even out.

  15. Thomas

    March 24, 2012 12:21 AM

    As a Phillies fan, will all the games that this has played over the years, playoffs and WS, players do break down. But, they don’t need to hit three run home runs all the time, they need a younger contact hitter that can play mulitple positions. Having a heatlhy David Wright would be great; but a .290/.300 hitter with some defense would also help too.

  16. hk

    March 24, 2012 07:01 AM

    Pete, with Sanchez hurt, I doubt Sabean will start the season with Crawford, Burriss and only one of the two veterans, especially since their contracts are so cheap. Plus, it looks as though Fontenot is the primary back-up at 3B. According to MLBTR, Fontenot’s ($1.05M) and Theriot’s ($1.25M) contracts become guaranteed if they are on the Giants roster on 3/30, so if the Giants plan to part with one of them, the Phils may not have to give up much, if anything, to get one.

  17. G.P.

    March 24, 2012 08:26 AM

    Stumbled on your article during some Saturday AM surfing. Interesting problem. Of the list, I don’t see the Angels making a trade or the Red Sox giving up their front-runner for starting SS. Andino, Getz, DeWitt might be had however. Better, and less costly options not mentioned: Jack Hannahan, CLE, superb defense at 3rd. Out-of-options, potential waiver claim. Also out-of-options, Trevor Plouffe, MIN, average left-side D, and OF corners. More offense than Martinez, Polanco, or Galvis. And lastly, AAA lifer Jarrett Hoffpauir, in Nationals camp, similar to Plouffe in all aspects. Grab him for a player-to-be-named-later grade-C prospect.

  18. LTG

    March 24, 2012 02:30 PM

    Wow. Madson blew out his elbow. Dodged a bullet there. Not that RAJ deserves credit for that.

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