I sparked some debate on Mike Aviles in my Tribe Tidbits post from this morning, and since I have some free time this afternoon I thought I’d dive deeper into why I object to the Indians spending $3.5M on a utility player.
First let me be clear, I don’t dislike Aviles at all. He has value on this team and as long as they’re in contention this year I don’t want him to go anywhere. His versatility gives Francona flexibility in the lineup and he obviously fits into the clubhouse well.
What I really object to is how much the Indians are paying him. His $3.5M contract makes him among the highest paid utility players in all of baseball, and they simply aren’t getting enough production out of the money they have spent.
Again, there is definitely value in his versatility. It’s hard to quantify, but it’s there. But if a team like the Indians is going to spend $3.5M on someone, I expect some quantifiable production as well.
I created the following chart of infielders (excluding first basemen) over the age of 30 with an on-base percentage below .300 a a slugging percentage below .400 over the past two seasons (min. 300 plate appearances).
This list essentially gives us middle infielders with zero offensive value. They aren’t getting on base, and they aren’t providing enough power to help make up for it.
I also provided the Defensive Runs Saved by each player when playing second, third or shortstop, as well as their 2014 contract.
|Player||OBP||Slug %||Infield DRS||2014 Contract|
|Jeff Keppinger||.283||.317||-10||Free Agent|
As you can see from the table, Aviles is one of four players on the list who provide no value in any of the three categories (geting on base, power, and defense). However, he’s the second highest paid player on the list.
Many of the others on the list provide a real value defensively. Not only are guys like Brendan Ryan and Jayson Nix versatile defensively, but they provide above average defense at multiple positions.
Aviles defense, however, has dropped off since coming to Cleveland – which really shouldn’t come as a surprise since he’s 33 years old.
As I said earlier, I’m not calling for the Indians to release or trade Aviles. He plays a specific role on this team and there is some unquantifiable value in what he brings. But if the team falls off in the second half, he should definitely be one of the guys to hit the trade block. And under no circumstances should they pick up his $3.5M option for 2015.