Mariners Analysis: Should the M’s Target Gerardo Parra?

brianhelberg
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The Seattle Mariners are clearly looking to upgrade their outfield this offseason. They acquired Leonys Martin from the Texas Rangers on Monday afternoon to play center field. However, they could still use help on the corners. If the Mariners were to bring in talent via free agency, Gerardo Parra is a name that would make a lot of sense.

Parra started the 2015 season with the Milwaukee Brewers before being shipped to the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline. The 28-year-old was phenomenal with the Brew Crew, posting a .328 batting average across 100 games. However, he hit just .237 down the stretch with the O’s. Overall, Parra hit .291 with 14 home runs, 51 RBI and 14 stolen bases. He timed his best season from an offensive standpoint perfectly.

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Originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004, Parra debuted in the desert during the 2009 season. He made an immediate impact, hitting .290 with 5 home runs, 60 RBI and 5 stolen bases across 120 games. Parra registered a .324 on base percentage and slugged .404 through 491 plate appearances. He finished 8th in 2009 National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Parra has put together a very solid seven year career. He may not be a household name, but he is a very good complimentary player. The Venezuela native has posted a lifetime .277 batting average with 56 home runs, 311 RBI and 69 stolen bases. Parra has accumulated 12.5 wins above replacement during his big league career. He has never tallied more than 100 strikeouts in a single season, and his on base percentage has always been over .300.

Parra is an above average contributor on offense, but he is a superb defender. He has spent the bulk of his career as a corner outfielder, but did play 41 games in center field in 2015. Parra has won one Gold Glove for his work in left field and one for playing right field. He has a very strong and accurate arm, as demonstrated by his 72 career outfield assists. Parra would be the Mariner best defensive outfielder since the departure of Ichiro Suzuki.

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was with the D-Backs when Parra was a young player, and he is said to be very high on him. Dipoto and company are on the hunt for players with good on base skills, and Parra’s .326 career OBP would seem to satisfy that need. Hitting Parra in front of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager would instantly upgrade the M’s offense.

As we all know, baseball is a business and free agency is all about money. Gerardo Parra is one of the better outfielders available, but he is not in the same tier as a Yoenis Cespedes or Jason Heyward. Brett Gardner signed a four-year deal worth $52 million prior to the start of the 2015 season with the New York Yankees. I believe Parra could get a five-year deal with an average annual salary similar to what Gardner received.

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At 28 years old, I am comfortable giving a player like Parra a five-year deal worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60 million dollars. Personally, I am always nervous to commit big money to free agents. However, in this situation, I believe Parra could be a great addition to the Mariners. I would love to see Seattle sign Parra to be the club’s everyday left fielder in 2016.

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