Assuming we don’t get a second baseman in return, which is quite unlikely, we’re obviously going to need someone to replace him. In Geoff Baker’s recent article on the subject of trading Jose Lopez, he mentions both Orlando Hudson and Placido Polanco as potential free agent replacements, as well as the possibility of Matt Tuiasosopo or Bill Hall filling the void.
Orlando Hudson could be a really nice fit, but he doesn’t want to come to the American League, so if the Mariners do want him, they may end up having to overpay to pry him from the National League, and I don’t see that happening. It’s a shame, too, as he’s quite the nifty little player.
Polanco on the other hand, seems like a much more realistic possibility. He’s a 3-4 win player who’s going to be earning something like $7 million a year, so there’s no need to worry about overpaying for wins, and he could theoretically be an excellent addition to this Mariners team. He’s been above average defensively by UZR for 6 of the last 7 seasons, and he’s just about a league average hitter. However, he’d only be a small upgrade in value over Lopez, but he’d cost about $6 million more – so it’d really come down to what the return is in any Jose Lopez deal.
If it were, say, the Jose Lopez, Mark Lowe, and Jason Vargas to Chicago for John Danks deal that Dave Cameron proposed, we’d be trading about $4 million in 2010 salaries and 5 WAR for about $3 million in 2010 salaries and 3 WAR. Then, if we sign Polanco for say a 2 year/$14 million deal, we end up with $10 million in 2010 salaries and about 6.5 WAR, between Danks and Polanco. Then, when you consider that each WAR is valued at about $4.5 million, we basically end up breaking even, with a very small increase in value, if that makes sense. If not, bear with me, I’m still fairly new at working with WAR.
But what that does hopefully show is that if we were to make that deal with the White Sox, and then sign Placido Polanco, we’d be getting slightly more for our money while improving the on-field product, and being able to do that is going to be huge if we want to contend in 2010.
Then, there are the in-house options. The two Geoff Baker brought up, Matt Tuiasosopo and Bill Hall, would pretty much be our only options if we were to trade Lopez. It’s still too soon to tell as to whether or not Tui could handle the starting second baseman job, but he’d in all likelihood be slightly below average defensively, and end up being about a 0.5-1 WAR player.
So, if we were to make the Lopez, Lowe, and Vargas for Danks trade, and then stuck Tui at second base, we’d still be trading about $4 million in 2010 salaries and about 5 WAR, and we’d end up getting about $3.5 million in 2010 salaries and about 3.5-4 WAR. In that scenario, we’d not only be making the on-field product worse, but we’d also be getting less for our money. So no, trading Jose Lopez and replacing him with Matt Tuiasosopo would not be a good idea – at least not with that trade return.
As for Hall, he’s had very limited experience at second base, and he hasn’t had any substantial time there since 2004. That’s way too small of a sample size to really gather anything from, but for the record, he was roughly average defensively in his time there, and that’s what I’d expect from him going into 2010 if he were to end up there. It probably won’t matter though, as I don’t see his offense ever reverting to 2006 form, and there’s virtually no way they take an average defender with a sub .300 wOBA and make him an everyday player.
I’d like to think I really got to the bottom of something, or came to some sort of conclusion, but it’s still 100% speculation, and all of this completely changes if Jose Lopez gets traded as a part of any other deal. God the off season sucks.