Tuesday, July 14, 2015

In the Cross Hairs: Cameron Maybin

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to take a look at several different players that the Royals could/should target via trade. As I highlighted here, I believe that the Royals should pursue an outfielder at this year's trade deadline. Also, according to Jon Heyman the Royals are actively searching the trade market for outfield help.
For these reasons, I'll probably focus my efforts on examining outfielders. Let's start with Atlanta Braves center fielder Cameron Maybin.

A former first round pick and top prospect, Maybin has for the most part failed to live up to the hype as a Major League player. However, the Asheville, North Carolina native has produced 9.3 fWAR over 641 career games, which translates to about 2.4 fWAR per 162. For comparison's sake, Alcides Escobar has been worth 2.1 fWAR per 162 throughout his career.

For his career, Maybin has hit .252/.317/.372. However, in 2015, Maybin has boosted that line to .289/.356/.418. Clearly, teams need to be wary of acquiring players when they are at peak performance and in this case, Maybin is having the best offensive season of his career (117 RC+). The question becomes is this luck driven or change driven?

In this particular circumstance, I believe there is a strong case that Maybin has turned a corner offensively. Although, I don't believe it do be quite as pronounced as the stats seem to indicate. To double check on this, I ran Maybin's contact rates through a xBABIP calculator to see what we should expect his line to be thus far this season.
  • Actual: .289/.356/.418 with 8 HR
  • xBABIP Adjusted: .303/.368/.433 with 8 HR
Now let's look at how his numbers change if we change his HR/FB% to league average of 10.5%:
  •  .295/.361/.396 with 5 HR
Finally, how would the numbers look with Maybin's career HR/FB% instead of the 16% that he has blasted out in 2015.
  • .293/.359/.386 with 4 HR
My personal conclusion is that as a 28 year old with regular playing time for the first time since 2012, Maybin has improved at the plate. He is posting a career high 9.3% walk rate and he is squaring the ball up more frequently than he has at any other point in his Major League career. What I don't buy is the sudden increase in power. However, even if you accept the final line that uses Maybin's career HR/FB% a .293/.359/.386 line would represent an enormous improvement of Alex Rios's .238/.266/.288. 

Of course when talking about Maybin the offense is only a portion of what intrigues me. Despite a career year at the plate, the numbers indicate that Maybin has struggled defensively in 2015. Defensive Runs Saved believes that Maybin has cost the Braves 14 runs this season. UZR has him at -7.2 runs through the first half. 

These numbers come as a bit of a surprise considering that through Maybin's first 8 seasons, he was worth on average about 3 runs saved per year. Nothing special, but a slightly above average defensive center fielder carries value and typically translates into an above average corner outfielder. Fortunately, for the Royals that is exactly where Maybin would wind up. 

While it isn't a slam dunk, my guess is that if Maybin were to move to a corner at Kauffman Stadium, his defense would play up in a tremendous way. The Royals have finally begun to realize that the uniqueness of Kauffman's spacious outfield can be an enormous competitive advantage. Essentially, by fielding 2 or 3 center fielders, there is enough space that the individual's fielding territories don't overlap which allows for maximum defensive effect. 

Maybin is currently owed about $3.5 million for the remainder of the 2015 season. He is under control at a very affordable $8 million for 2016 and has a $9 million team option for 2017 that includes a $1 million buyout. Overall, if the Royals were to acquire the Braves outfielder, the team would owe him a approximately $12.5 million guaranteed. Not only would that buy the Royals a fill in during Alex Gordon's time on the disabled list, but it would also check off a box on this winter's shopping list.

Another aspect that draws me to Maybin is the fact that he is right handed. I've made no secret that I believe Jarrod Dyson should be playing more often. If the Royals were to acquire Maybin they could put Dyson and Rios into a platoon at the other corner. Then when Gordon comes back, Maybin could take Rios's place with Dyson occasionally spelling him against right handed pitching. (Of course, my dream would be to DFA Rios and start both Maybin and Dyson everyday until Gordon returns. Sight.) If the Royals can manage to bring back Gordon for the 2016 season, I believe that it'd make more sense to acquire a right handed hitter than a lefty for the reason above. 

So would the Braves trade Maybin? What would it take? The answer to the first question is not obvious, but I believe the answer to be yes. The Braves are clearly in a rebuild mode. Despite their best efforts to keep things interesting in 2015, the team is now 7 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and 6 behind the Cubs for the second wild card.

EDIT: According to Bill Shanks the Braves are open for business and wouldn't refuse a strong trade offer for Maybin. Shanks believes the Braves could reasonably demand a prospect in a team's 5-10 range. For the Royals that zone preseason included: Hunter Dozier, Miguel Almonte, Foster Griffin, Scott Blewett, Jorge Bonifacio, and Christian Colon.

What would it take to acquire Maybin is a more difficult question to answer. Let's say we are optimistic and project Maybin to be worth 1 fWAR for the rest of 2015, 2.5 fWAR for 2016, and 2.5 fWAR. Let's say we don't discount future value and we value 1 fWAR at $8 million, which seems high. If we do all of these things, we find that Maybin is worth about $27 million in surplus value. (Considering the way we reached this figure, I believe this to be on the high end.)

Based on the work from The Point of Pittsburgh, this is roughly the equivalent of a pitching prospect in the #26-50 range and a pitching prospect in the #51-75 range. 

If we take a more pessimistic approach in how we value Maybin, we could reach the conclusion that he is worth more like $6-10 million in surplus value. This would make Maybin worth a border line top 100 prospect. 

Based off all of this, I could see the Braves and Royals coming together somewhere in between. Perhaps, one of the Royals top pitching prospects, plus another guy ranking in the 20-45 ranges of the Royals top prospects. This aligns well with what resident Braves fan Nick Allen guessed at on Twitter. He discussed the Braves desire to add arms and catching depth and throughout a Maybin for Brandon Finnegan and Zane Evans swap. 

It has been said before, but if the Royals do move a top prospect, it seems like Finnegan is the most likely to go. Finnegan was a beast last October, but the Royals approach to his development this season has at times been baffling. At this point, I think it is likely that the Royals view him as a reliever long term and with that being the case, his value could be higher as a trade commodity than as a building block for future teams. I also recall that from his MLB Network days that John Hart, President of Operations for the Atlanta Braves was a huge Miguel Almonte fan.

What do you think Royals fans? Would you trade either Brandon Finnegan or Miguel Almonte plus another low level prospect for Maybin? Let me know!

Follow me on Twitter @Landon_Adams!

No comments:

Post a Comment