Apr 18, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Scott Van Slyke (33) runs the bases after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Van Slyke: Mariners Trade Deadline Target

The season of trade rumors is just about upon us, and the Mariners somehow find themselves well within the playoff hunt for the first time in what seems like an eternity. In fact, at 47-38, if the season ended today, they would own the second wild card spot in the American League, and their .553 winning percentage equates to 89-90 wins for the year.

They have managed all this in spite of their offense (team wRC+ of 90), rather than because of it, as is the norm. Their rotation and bullpen have both been great, and are the main reasons why they are where they are.

In order to maintain this success though, they have to try to add to the team in some way. Because of the offensive struggles, it would follow that their targets should and will be bats, particularly from the right side. And I agree that a right handed bat would be idea.

But they cannot and should not limit themselves in that way. Upgrades are upgrades, and if the rumors of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are true, and they could be had in the right deal, you have to pull the trigger.

But that debate is for another post. For now, I am in fact going to focus on a right handed bat, by the name of Scott Van Slyke. Van Slyke is definitely not a household name, and on the surface you may not see him as the kind of guy who will aid a team in a playoff race.

But Van Slyke may be one of the most underrated players in the game, and is currently forced to be a part-timer for the Dodgers.

He only has 339 career plate appearances, but in that short time he has posted an impressive .234/.346/.465 line with a 13.6% walk rate and .231 ISO, cumulating for a 132 wRC+, which would be 2nd on the Mariners between Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano.

He is currently in the middle of his best season, with a .262/.415/.544 line (176 wRC+). That is without a doubt unsustainable, and his career sample size is about half of a full season, but his high walk rate and power suggest he has the ability to be a very productive player going forward. Zips pegs him at a .251/.341/.438 line for the rest of the year, totaling .255/.371/.478 with 2.6 WAR for the season.

He also has the flexibility to play both corner outfield spots and 1st base, where the team could desperately use some help. And again, the sample is small, but to this point the metrics suggest he is average or better at both first base and the outfield.

So while he isn’t the biggest name out there, nor is he the best player, he is the kind of guy the Mariners should target. Not to mention, Scott’s father Andy is the team’s first base coach. He could pull some strings to make a deal happen.

The M’s lack the firepower to go out and get a star without mortgaging the future, so underrated, ready-to-break-out players make the most sense. I don’t think a .240/.340/.440 or so is out of the question at all, and combined with roughly average defense in left field comes to about 2-2.5 WAR over a full season.

I cannot say what it would cost, nor if the Dodgers are looking to move him. We don’t know whether other teams or the Dodgers themselves see the breakout potential that Van Slyke has, so it’s hard to gauge the asking price.

On top of that, he has been useful filling in when Adrian Gonzalez or one of their many outfielders miss time, and they have no reason to trade him unless they get an offer they really like.

Nick Franklin and Yoervis Medina for Van Slyke comes to mind, but again, I have no real gauge of the actual price tag attached to Van Slyke. What I do know is Van Slyke would be a versatile and relatively cheap upgrade for the Mariners as they enter their first playoff race in a long time.

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  • jay

    Are you kidding? While I like Van Slyke, giving up Franklin and Medina is a ridiculous amount to give up for a player who is 33 and only has 339 CAREER plate appearances. I am thinking more along the lines of a lower level prospect. A Tyler Pike in combination with Gabriel Noriega would get it done.

    • Ian

      Although he’s actually 27 (his jersey number is 33), nonetheless I agree and hope this proposal wasn’t exactly serious.

      • jay

        My bad. Either way, is too much of a package to give up.

      • JJ Allen Keller

        Care to elaborate? I am curious why people would dislike the trade, other than just “I don’t like it.” I mean, Zips has him at 2.6 WAR in half a season’s worth of plate appearances.

        • Justin Olsen

          I like the idea of bringing in Van Slyke. Seems like a solid bat. Decent track record in the minor leagues as well. He has the versatility the club likes (1B/OF). Sounds like a perfect #2 bat and solid option in LF.

          However, I am not sure I would be willing to give up Nick Franklin + Medina. I wouldn’t be against dealing Franklin but I would want at least a mid level prospect coming back our way.

    • JJ Allen Keller

      He is on pace for 2.6 WAR in 324 plate appearances. That is over 4 WAR in a full season. On top of that, he isn’t 33, so I question how much research you did on him. Franklin has no place on this team and hasn’t done anything at the major league level. Medina is solid, but he walks a lot of guys, and the bullpen is insanely deep. And again, the Dodgers don’t need to move him. They will likely want MLB ready guys in exchange.

      I think you may be falling into the trap that many fans fall in to. Overrating our own players, underrating others. Other teams don’t want our scraps for their productive players. It has to work out on both sides. Franklin has upside but literally nowhere to play on this team. He isn’t going to play 2B, and his SS defense is suspect, on top of Miller surging, and franklin failing to show anything past AAA.

      • Ian

        No need to be so defensive. He mistook Van Slyke’s age because you put 33 in parentheses in the header photo.

        No one’s overrating anyone here. You must have forgotten how well Franklin began his major league career. People thought we had our new franchise 2B well into the summer. We’re only a year removed from that. What did Adam Jones do for us in two seasons? Where is he now? I’ll agree that he hasn’t done squat since, but it would be bad form to undervalue him simply because we (or Lloyd) might not have much of a place for him at the moment.

        With a 23-year old former top 40 prospect and one of the game’s best setup men over the past two seasons (he walked too many guys last season, I thought he would regress hard this year – he hasn’t, he’s been even better), we should be able to acquire better than a no-name like Van Slyke, who is 4 years older than Franklin yet has far fewer ABs.

        • JJ Allen Keller

          Where is Franklin going to play? Why should we believe he is going to all of the sudden hit at the ML level, especially enough to play at a non-middle infield position?

          Medina also isn’t one of the best setup men in the league. He is 103rd in WAR among relievers since 2013. Almost 5 walks per nine. And even so, relievers are a dime a dozen, especially for this team. Even the best ones pretty much max out at 1 WAR. Van Slyke would be on pace for over 4 WAR in 600 PA. I’ll trade .5 WAR reliever and MAYBE 2-3 win nick Franklin (who again has no future with this team) for Van Slyke.

          You aren’t going to fleece the dodgers. They don’t need to trade Van Slyke, and will only do so for a good return. And Franklin and Medina is better than Franklin, Medina, Pike+ for Kemp or another alternative who’s cost does not fit their production.

          • Ian

            It’s not about finding a spot for Franklin to play. It’s about getting fair value on your returns. You don’t sell low on a 23-year old who was one of the top prospects in baseball just a year ago.

            Sounds like you’re more concerned with individuals and the so-called “WAR” than the overall team. Of course that stat is going to be partial to the position player. You’re talking about one guy who is going pitch one inning every other day or two, regardless of how good he is – versus a player who will be able to log statistics in numerous categories, regardless of how bad he is. GMs are aware of this. Stellar middlemen will always be coveted.and this is proven year after year with all the lopsided trades for closers. Stud relievers are a dime a dozen when you have the best bullpen in the league. Tell that to the Mariner bullpen of yesteryear.

            Baseball is a game of streaks, and you seem too concerned with short term streaks for your own good. Case in point: Miller’s recent hot streak seemingly remedying all of the ineffectiveness that lied before, as well as Van Slyke’s meager sample size.

            No need with the false dilemma either. Didn’t suggest targeting Kemp anywhere, nor did I suggest we would/should need to tack on another solid prospect for him.

      • tedsfrozenhead

        324 plate appearances? O what? How does his career numbers look? Picking a small sample size to serve your purpose is weak.

        • JJ Allen Keller

          That’s what zips projects him at for the rest of the year…. And adding more plate appearances just increases that number…I don’t get what your point is supposed to be.

          I also mentioned his career numbers in the article…. But 134 wRC+ and 2.3 WAR in 348 PA (4 WAR over 600 PA)

  • Seatown Mariners

    I certainly would at least like to give Van Slyke a try, even if does strike out way too much. Though I think he’s due to regress, I still think he can be better than Ackley. That being said, I doubt the Dodgers move an outfielder. While they do have five outfielders, six if you count Joc Pederson, neither Kemp nor Ethier have been able to stay healthy and Crawford is on the DL. And when healthy, Ethier hasn’t been all that great. Currently, they really do need four outfielders, just to give Ethier days to rest his knees. In the middle of a pennant chase, I doubt they’d want to try out Pederson, eliminating that option. So basically, they’re using Van Slyke as a crutch until Crawford can come back, but by then, the deadline may have passed. I doubt we see the Dodgers move an outfielder until the last week of trading, if at all.

    • tedsfrozenhead

      You want to add a guy who you yourself say strikes out too mi=uch and is due to regress?….What sense is this? Are you really GMZ in disguise?

      • Seatown Mariners

        I think he can be a decent upgrade to Ackley in left field. He’s not Mike Trout, but he’s cheap, he’s serviceable, and he’s potentially available. Between rumored trade candidates like Viciedo, Willingham, Ethier, Van Slyke etc, he’s my favorite combination of production to cost.

      • JJ Allen Keller

        High strikeout totals aren’t bad if you still get on base a lot, which Van Slyke does. Trout Ks 25% of the time. He is still the best player in the league. Upton Ks close to 30% of the time. Still a great player.