With Wil Myers headed to San Diego, and only a clean bill of health keeping Matt Kemp from joining him (which may or may not magically appear of LA is willing to pay a larger portion of Kemp’s remaining $105 million on his contract…), the San Diego Padres find themselves with an opportunity to move 2014 right fielder Seth Smith. Kemp’s days as an everyday center fielder have long passed, and Myers is likely better suited for a corner outfield spot as well. This leaves nowhere to play Smith, and the Padres could deal Smith to acquire some help at a spot other than the corner outfield.
The biggest issue with Smith has always been his splits. No matter how you slice it, Smith should relegated to a platoon role.
wRC+ 123 63
wOBA .362 .274
ISO .204 .109
A team that has been in the hunt for a corner outfielder this offseason is the Seattle Mariners. So far we’ve seen Seattle add Nelson Cruz to serve as the everyday DH, and over the past month we’ve seen the Mariners linked to names like Melky Cabrera, Dayan Viciedo, Justin Upton, and Kemp. The big hangup with Kemp, as well as Upton, was the issue with teams trying to pry away young pitchers like Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Fortunately for the M’s, a player like Seth Smith would not cost them these young arms.
and even more cash expected to head to San Diego, Upton will likely become the top corner outfielder available this offseason. Upton has just one year remaining on his current contract, and will make nearly $15 million in 2015. Meanwhile, Smith will make nearly $13 million over the next two years, and his contract contains a club option for the 2017 as well. Now we all know that Justin Upton is a better baseball player than Seth Smith, but is one year of Upton (and no Walker or Paxton for the next 6 years) better than two years of Smith and Justin Ruggiano (with Walker and Paxton still in Seattle for the next 6 years)?
Earlier this week, the Mariners acquired Ruggiano from the Cubs for minor league reliever Matt Brazis. Ruggiano is two years removed from a career year in Miami, in which he posted a 2.6 WAR in just 91 games. Even though his WAR over the last two seasons combined for just 1.3, he still profiles as an excellent platoon player. In 2013, Ruggiano posted a 130 wRC+ vs LHP, as well as a .362 wOBA. For 2014, Ruggiano’s numbers were nearly identical, posting a 129 wRC+ and a .362 wOBA vs LHP. Take a look at the career numbers below, with Smith and Ruggiano’s being their career splits:
Upton Smith Ruggiano
wRC+ 121 123 128
wOBA .359 .362 .360
ISO .202 .204 .241
Whether or not the Mariners add Justin Upton, or Seth Smith, or go with some sort of Brad Miller/Ruggiano platoon that we’ve seen rumored, they will get solid production from that right field spot. Smith would cost them some value, and the Smith/Ruggiano platoon may not be the sexiest, but Smith would not cost them a Walker or Paxton.