Today the Reds traded Chris Dickerson to the Brewers in return for Jim Edmonds. (update: Here's a link to the initial thread on this, which is bursting at the seams from comments. :) )
Edmonds, of course, has a long history of excellence with Walt Jocketty. He has a good argument for the Hall of Fame. And I have a terrific memory of watching a game in St. Louis in 2001 with my dad, when Edmonds made one of his patented diving catches in the outfield.
The problem is that he's old. Does he have anything left? And is he a meaningful improvement over Chris Dickerson, who is similar in player type: a left-handed CF?
Jim Edmonds, LHB CF
Notes: The last three lines (in italics) are projections. wOBA, RAA, and RAR are park adjusted numbers. They may differ from FanGraphs/b-ref because of the park adjustments, or the specifics of how I'm calculating them. RAR does not include information about fielding or position.
Edmonds skipped 2009 due to oldness. He had a tough season in 2007, but was surprisingly strong (vs. my memory) in 2008 for the Padres and Cubs. This year, he was a surprise name during spring training, and won a time share in the outfield--mostly in CF. And he's hit well out there, though his BABIP and LD% have been a bit high.
The projections shown above are up to date projections based on the last several years of data including this year's performance. Not surprisingly, they forecast a decline for Edmonds over the rest of the season. While Oliver (at Hardball times) is pretty pessimistic on him, both ZiPS and CHONE forecast him as an average to slightly above-average hitter. He's unlikely to hit for much of an average, but he'll walk at a good clip and hit for decent power. You can do worse from a 4th outfielder / platoon hitter, which is probably(?) how the Reds see him now.
Over a full season, expecting that he can't play every day, Edmonds looks to be something in the range of a .330-.340 wOBA hitter, which equates to +1 to +1.5 WAR (ignoring fielding for now). He's already been worth ~+1.5 WAR (15 runs divided by 10 runs per win) to the Brew Crew thanks to his strong performance thus far, but I think he's been playing above his true talent level so far this season.
Edmonds over his career has been a plus center fielder, with +3 runs/season rating by UZR (going back to 2004) and +9 runs/season by Total Zone. But I don't think you can expect that from him anymore--he's 40 years old and has been having issues with his legs this season!
Still, the Brewers have played him primarily in CF this season, and UZR is pretty bullish on him: +5 runs in 360 innings (beware very small sample size). Baseball Info Solutions' DRS has a similar rating: +3 runs in CF. ... Honestly, I just don't believe those numbers. Total Zone projects him as a -1 fielder per season, but in a corner outfield spot--that's the equivalent of a -10 run CF. Oliver projects him as -0.4 over the remainder of the season, I think at CF. ...
All this is to say that I really don't know how to judge him in CF. Let's just call him an average defensive CF. I can't decide if that's generous or conservative.
So we have a +1-1.5 WAR hitter, an average fielder (+0 WAR), playing defense-oriented position (+0.25 WAR/season in ~50% playing time, so +0.125). Overall, I'm rating him as a +1.1-1.6 WAR player per full season. If he could play every day, he's be more valuable, but I don't think he can and stay healthy or productive. Still, this is better than I expected to find when I started down this road.
Edmonds is signed for 850k this season base salary, plus bonuses for playing time. He has 240 PA's. If we assume he'll get ~350 PA's overall this season, he gets another $805k in performance bonuses, making his salary $1.6 M.
Since WAR are worth something like $4M right now, he's worth around $5.4 M per season. That means he's a $3.8 M asset, which pro-rated over the rest of the season is somewhere around $1.3 M.
What they paid: Chris Dickerson, LHB CF
Chris Dickerson had a fabulous cup of coffee in 2008, but since then, when he's managed to be healthy, his primary hitting asset has been his ability to get on base via the walk (career BB% = 12%). He has a bit of power, but he's only hit two home runs since his 2008 debut.
Overall, his career MLB numbers, and his projections, have him somewhere between average and a tad below average as a hitter: say 0.320-0.330 wOBA? He's already 28 years old, and he's had a lot of trouble staying healthy, and managers will tend to sit him against lefties... so you can't forecast much more playing time than you do with Edmonds. 400 PA's (57%) seems fair, and is where CHONE and Oliver have him.
Overall, I think a reasonable offensive projection for Dickerson is right about where Edmonds is: 1.2 or so WAR per season. You lose a bit in terms of rate of production, but you gain a bit in terms of playing time.
Dickerson has a reputation as a good fielder. We don't have terrific sample sizes to work with, but his career UZR in CF is +9 in 250 innings. DRS has him at +7, and TZL has him at +6 runs. That's terrific on a per-inning basis. He doesn't rate as well as a plus-plus CF should in the corners, however: +1.5 UZR, +7 DRS, +2 TZL in ~590 innings. I remember him having some trouble reading the ball in LF last season, so perhaps that's what we're seeing? I don't see that as a long-term problem. Total Zone projects him as a +12 fielder in a corner outfield slot (equals ~+2 in CF), while Oliver has him as a +8 fielder (though I'm not sure at what position). Prior to the season, I had him as a +2 fielder in 28% playing time, or ~+7 runs in a corner.
Overall, given his solid reputation, his generally plus fielding numbers everywhere he plays, I'd guess he's somewhere between an average and a +5 run center fielder per season. Since we're only projecting 57% playing time, I'm going to peg him as a +0.1 WAR fielder in CF.
Total Value and Comparison to Edmonds
So, overall, I'm ballparking Dickerson as a +1.2 WAR hitter and a +0.1 WAR fielder, and he gets a pro-rated +0.14 bonus for playing CF. Altogether, that makes him a +1.4 WAR property, worth ~$5.6 M if you had to replace him as a free agent. Dickerson only makes 415k, so he's a $5 M asset, which, pro-rated to the remaining games, is ~$1.7 M.
You also do get Dickerson for several more years of control. B-Ref says the earliest he would be arbitration eligible is 2012, so if we assume 0.5 WAR/yr aging (I'll just use 0.25 WAR for 2011, since we're most of the way there already), and make some assumptions about how salaries will inflate and how arbitration will go for him, that puts him on this sort of timeline:
2010: 0.5 WAR (remaining), Worth $1.9 M, paid ~$200K, $1.7 M asset
2011: 1.15 WAR, worth $4.8 M, paid 400k, $4.4 M asset
2012: 0.65 WAR, worth $2.7 M, paid $1.1 M, $1.3 M asset
2013: 0.15 WAR, worth $0.7 M, paid $1.1 M, 0.4 liability
So overall, Dickerson properties should be an asset worth something around $7 M over the coming 3 years or so.
I had Edmonds as a $3.8 M asset. So, at least looking at it this way, the Brewers "won" this trade: they secured a guy who is probably worth a bit less than half of what they sent. Neither of these players is particularly valuable, so we're sort of splitting hairs here, but the Brewers did fine here.
...but all that said, I'm starting to like the deal for the Reds...at least a little bit. Reasons:
- The Reds are in the hunt for the first time in years and are on the bubble. I don't think you throw long-term considerations out the window, but I think you can upweight current-season contributions.
- The margin of error here is probably a at least +/-1 WAR. Playing time alone is a huge variable. It's just really hard to know what to expect from these guys. Can I see Edmonds or Dickerson as +2.5 WAR players over the next 162 games? Sure. Can I see them as replacement level? Yeah.
- You can leverage Edmonds' offense via platooning, pinch hits, and defensive substitutions, and he probably gives you more bang for the buck in those situations than Dickerson. Dickerson, as a more fielding-oriented player, is less leverage-able...or, at least, there's an argument for that.
- One of Edmonds' problems is that he probably can't play every day. This is fairly easy to solve by platooning him, and the Reds have good right-handed CF options to insert into the lineup when needed. Dickerson's playing time issue is that he historically has gotten hurt a lot. You can't platoon someone who isn't available to play.
- Say what you will about how overhyped clubhouse presence, veteran leadership, playoff experience, etc, are...but it probably doesn't hurt to have another guy like that on the roster.
So, I guess where I'm at is that while initially I didn't like the deal much, I think this probably does slightly improve the current Reds. Not by a lot. But probably by a little bit. And every bit helps. Go Reds!