Barring an unexpected gift of $30 million from Seattle Mariners ownership, GM Jerry Dipoto will need to get creative this off-season. Could he find common ground with the Cincinnati Reds? Let’s discuss.
When you have limited funds as a baseball GM, you really have two types of players you can try to acquire. You try to find somebody who is pre-breakout who you value more than anybody in the game. The Mariners have gone down this avenue with some success in identifying guys like Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales.
The second type of player you can acquire is one that is either blocked by other options in their organization or is deemed “easier to replace” because their skill set isn’t that exciting. The Mariners have also found success in this arena with the likes of Ben Gamel and Wade LeBlanc.
Scott Schebler, the 28-year-old corner outfielder of the Cincinnati Reds probably falls into the latter category. However, he is exactly the type of player who can help the Mariners. Let’s dive in.
A quick glance at Schebler’s career marks and you see what appears to be a very “blah” type of player. His .248/.323/.458 career slash line doesn’t exactly generate any excitement. Of course, he has an above-average power tool, and even slugged 30 home runs in 2017, but has still just posted a career 103 wRC+ (100 is league average).
Schebler did have the same barrel percentage as Mitch Haniger, and a higher average exit velo than guys like Anthony Rizzo, Nolano Arrenado, and Edwin Encarnacion. So perhaps there is more in the bat, but with a pretty decent sample size and the fact that he is 28, you have to assume that he is what he is.
So if he’s just an okay hitter, he must be a really good defender or base-runner right? Well actually… no. Much like his hit tool, Schebler’s base-running and defensive metrics grade out to be about average.
The interesting thing about his outfield defense is that Schebler has actually been better in CF than a corner spot, judging by Fangraphs defensive metrics. As for Statcast, they have him as getting zero outs above average as an outfielder. Interestingly enough though, Schebler had the 9th best “5-star catch probability” percent in baseball.
If you are unfamiliar, stat cast uses video and math to give each play a rating on a 1-5 scale. One star catches are plays that are made 95% or more by players across the league. For a play to be ranked as a 5-star play, a player needs to record an out on a ball that has less than a 25 % chance of becoming an out.
Overall, it is fair to say that Schebler has an average glove who can make a big play on occasion. So an average bat, average glove, and an average base-runner. Who cares right? Well actually, a player with no major weaknesses can be insanely valuable.
Schebler walks, strikeouts, slugs, plays defense and runs the bases, all at about a league average clip. The left-handed hitter didn’t even have a discernable platoon split in 2018, posting a 112 wRC+ against LHP and a 108 wRC+ against RHP.
The Mariners need an outfielder, and with limited funds, going after a first-year arbitration guy like Schebler makes a lot of sense. It is estimated that Schebler will earn $2.7 million this season, and is club controlled for 3 more seasons.
The two sides actually match up pretty well for a trade. The Reds biggest weakness last season was pitching, both starting and bullpen. The Mariners have a bevy of young relievers to move and may be able to trim a little bit of extra payroll by sending Nick Vincent to Cincy.
A deal like Vincent and Dan Altavilla is a fair place to start.
At the end of the day, it does take two to tango. The Reds could simply decide they don’t want to move Schebler, and a deal would be dead before it ever began. But teams don’t typically scoff at moving guys like Scott Schebler. And he is exactly the type of player Jerry Dipoto may actually be able to afford.