Non-Tender Trade Candidate — Mike Aviles

On Monday, the Indians kickstarted the Hot Stove Season by deciding that they had to have Derek Lowe immediately join their rotation.  They made sure they scooped him up in a trade before anyone else decided they had to have a $15 million dollar, 38-year old pitcher with a 5+ ERA in their rotation.

All snark aside, the Braves were so desperate to free up a modicum of salary space (and more importantly a rotation spot for one of their young high-end minor league pitchers) that the Braves will be paying $10 million of the $15 million dollar 2012 salary for Lowe this year.  So for the cost of $5 million, plus a non-descript A-ball reliever, the Indians will be adding a durable inning eater that is a ground ball machine.  Lowe will join Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson in the rotation as extreme ground ball pitchers, which is fantastic if you have great infield defense…which the Indians do not.

So how does this affect the Pittsburgh Pirates?  It could be a template for what they may do this offseason to augment the major league team for 2012 — utilizing their available payroll capacity to pick up a veteran at a cut cost from a team looking to trim payroll.

However, there is another method available to procure talent and that is to trade for players who may be non-tender candidates with their current clubs.  Typically a player that is a non-tender candidate is such because his production has slipped and the team can no longer justify his projected upcoming salary.  But in some cases, it is possible to find a player that may be caught up in a numbers game.

MLB Trade Rumors is in the midst of completing their Offseason Outlooks for each team and detailed who they felt may be non-tender candidates for each team.  With the Pirates declining the 2012 option on Ronny Cedeno, I decided to sift through and see if anyone interesting popped up.

One player that caught my eye is Mike Aviles, currently of the Boston Red Sox.  With the Red Sox picking up Marco Scutaro’s option and having Dustin Pedroia (2B) and Kevin Youkilis (3B) back and healthy in 2012, plus Jed Lowrie as the utility infielder, there does not appear to be any room for this mid-season acquisition.  Aviles will be entering arbitration for the first time and MLBTR has estimated his salary for 2012 at $1.5 million.  Aviles has had alternating good and bad years, with 2011 being a little bit of a down year for him.  Through his first 3+ years in the majors, he is a .288/.318/.419 (737 OPS) hitter.  Part of the reason for his fluctuation is production from year to year has been his Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP).  For his career he has a .316 BABIP.  In 2011, it dipped to .276.  Aviles has had a fairly consistent walk rate of 4% and a strikeout rate of 14%.

Contrasting Aviles’ career numbers with Ronny Cedeno’s numbers:

Aviles — .288/.318/.419 (737 OPS), 4.2% BB, 14.2% K

Cedeno — .246/.288/.353 (641 OPS), 5.0% BB, 19.8% K

You get a little more contact with Aviles, slightly more power, and an equal walk rate.

Now as for the defense…

Aviles in 2011 primarily played 3B, due to filling in for the injured Youkilis, but he also played some SS and 2B.  Throughout his career, Aviles has had a positive UZR/150 rating at SS, with negative ratings at both 3B and 2B.  Cedeno has had much more experience at SS the past 2 years, with 2011 being a very successful statistical year for him at SS.  Cedeno is the better defensive player at SS, but the gap may not be as wide as suspected, especially if Aviles can provide anything at all with the bat.

Aviles is appealing because of his versatility to play all 3 positions and potentially provide a (slight) upgrade offensively.  Add in the fact that the Pirates could potentially control him for 3 additional arbitration years and his projected 2012 salary is $1.5 M and you have a very attractive trade candidate before the non-tender deadline.

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  • Anonymous

    Looks like he fits the mold of what the Pirates want, especially the fact that Aviles is versatile.
    I still think Mercer is the answer, unfortunately Mercer is very similar to Walker and we know what the Pirates thought of Walker in the minor league system.
    IMO, Clint did not like Cedano personally, did not like Ciriaco as a player, but liked D’Arnaud a lot, D’Arnaud was fast and a real hustler.

    • Tim Williams

      I don’t buy in to the idea that the Pirates didn’t like Walker. It ignores the reality that surrounded Walker. He had poor numbers until the 2010 season. He put up strong numbers for the first month of the season, and after continuing that in May, they called him up.

      The popular thing is to say that they didn’t like him, and point to the “utility” comments when he was brought up. Looking at the reality, you’ve got a guy who had underperformed, and who was on a two month hot streak. There was no reason to be high on Walker before 2010, and there was no reason to say he was the future after just two months of solid performance.
      Ultimately I think actions speak louder than words. Walker started off hot, and was immediately moved to second base full time in AAA. He was brought up, and was put in the starter role almost immediately (I think his second week in the majors).

      • Anonymous

        I saw him as a jock, the numbers were not what I judged him by, I saw him catch and I saw him play 3rd, which I still think is his best position. Guys like him are ballplayers and you have to look beyond the numbers when you look at a guy like him.

        • white angus

          actually, this makes some sense.  problem is, Walker showed very little improvement in the minors until he became a non-prospect before 2010.  His discipline at the plate was poor, his contact rate was “meh” and he was being passed by 2 prospects in Laroche and Alvarez.

          you really have to ask yourself this:  whom was it that moved Walker permanently to 2B last season in Indy when Iwamura was bombing?  it was NH.

      • F Lang

        I think it ridiculous to say they didn’t like him. They kept them in the minors until he showed a consistent approach that was conducive to success in the majors, then they called him up. Something they didn’t do with Alvarez…which is ok…I understand the pressure to call up your #1 that you gave a mlb deal to. Fans are always the same, if a fo waits they say what is taking so long if they call a guy up and he fails initially, they say he is a bust. It’s a no win situation.

    • michael

      Your comment that Hurdle “did not like Ciriaco” is way off.  He absolutely loves him; probably more so than the FO.  On the 3rd time he got called up, Hurdle practically ran from one end of the dugout to the other to give him a hug.

  • Anonymous

    One thing that I think is going to be different about this year than any of the previous years under Huntington is that Hurdle is going to have a lot to say about who they bring in, I have no insider info, just my opinion.

    • Anonymous

      I agree about Hurdle’s input being a factor, which is why I would not be surprised to see Clint Barmes here in 2012.

      • Anonymous

        I think this is why Cedeno’s option wasn’t picked up, Hurdle seemed to have Ronny on a short leash with his inconstant bat. Even though his defense was exceptional through out the year.

      • Anonymous

        I would be very happy if the Pirates signed Barmes.  I would also like to see them acquire Chris Iannetta, sign Derrek Lee or Carlos Pena, and get Edwin Jackson and/or Aaron Harang.

  • Anonymous

    I like Aviles, he got that swag about him, at least looks the part. When is the non tender deadline??

    • Tim Williams

      December 12th

      • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Aviles has barely played a full season worth of games at SS, so not sure we should use UZR.  His fielding percentage is about league average.

    • white angus

      shouldnt use UZR at all…  ugh…   >:-D

      • F Lang

        Ughhh.  I hear you WA.

  • Robert Lee

    I’ve seen Aviles play short. It’s not pretty. He’d be OK as a utility player, as he can hit a bit, but he’s not a candidate to start at short.

  • F Lang

    Why do I see so many people typing Cedano? Is it because of the Western PA accent? Anyways, if we can get Avilles it would be great. He is a cheap, usefull piece still in his prime years and he is easily tradeable because of his versatility in the rare case all our other options are playing well.

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