Why Maggs will be a Tiger next year

There’s been a popular refrain that the Tigers will trade Magglio Ordonez this offseason. The thinking is that a)Magglio is a pretty good player and b)the Tigers would free up salary and c)the Tigers could get prospects to fill needs or even just replenish the farm system. While tenet A is true, parts B and C unfortunately are near mutually exclusive.

Ordonez is certainly a good player. He has a .380 wOBA this season which is a little more than 2 wins above average. Defensively it depends who you ask. He’s either a little below average or average-ish. In the interest of pumping up his value, we’ll call him an average fielder.

We’ll come back to value in a minute. But for now we’ll focus on his contract. Ordonez has one more guaranteed year on his deal at $18 million for 2009. There are then 2 club options – sort of. They are club options that can also vest due to playing time. If Ordonez makes 135 starts next year or 540 plate appearances the two options years become guaranteed at $15 million per. Or, if he has 1080 plate appearances between 08 and 09 they vest.

Ordonez is at 555 PA’s this year and will likely finish right around 600 for the season. Meaning he’ll only need 480 PA’s next year. Presumably a team isn’t going to trade for a player with the hope he gets injured, let’s assume that Ordonez plays a full year and his real remaining contract is 3 years and $48 million.

Ordonez will be 35 next year, so his contract extends through his age 37 season. Would you sign a 35 year old above average corner outfielder to a 3 year, $48 million deal?

To answer this, we can turn to a methodology that we tapped in the offseason to evaluate free agent deals. If we deem Ordonez to be a 2 win above average player (which is reasonable since his current season is close to his career numbers) that makes him 4 wins above replacement level. We penalize him a half win for aging and another half win for being a corner outfielder (he’d get bonus points for playing short or center or catcher) making him 3 wins above replacement. Using this table, that would a 3 year deal worth $35.9 million. Now that was last year, so if we add on 10% inflation it brings a 3 year deal to $40 million-ish.

So Magglio’s deal isn’t particularly attractive one if you were signing him as a free agent. So why would a team give up any prospects of value (or even not of value) to acquire him and his salary? The Tigers could send some money along with the deal, but then they are paying a handsome sum for prospects, plus they would be losing production in right field. And as much as we may like Matt Joyce, Ordonez is a solid bet to put up better numbers. Plus I don’t see the Tigers abandoning contention in 2009. The moves that have been made the last 2 years have been to give the Tigers a 2-3 year window to compete. Next year will not be a rebuilding year – at least not out of spring training.

I just don’t see a scenario where it makes sense for the Tigers to move Ordonez (unless another team is really dumb).

20 thoughts on “Why Maggs will be a Tiger next year”

  1. Ummm…didn’t we just sign a 38 year old DH, coming off an injury year, to a 3-year $41 million dollar deal only two years ago? And we didn’t we give up three prospects for the honor of doing so?

    At least Maggs is productive and earning his contract. There are worse guys we could be “stuck” with if he vests his contract than a batting champion who plays hard and produces every day.

  2. I wouldn’t think Maggs would be dealt unless billfer’s last sentence in this post comes to fruition. I’m sure the team will listen to offers if other teams come calling, but I’m of the opinion that he’ll stay put. That’s a plus for the Tigers, as he’s one of the most productive hitters they’ve got. And given his profile, he’s a good bet to remain productive through at least the next two seasons. He’s a good on base guy, doesn’t strike out a whole heck of a lot and pretty much hits line drives all over the place. That skill set sems to age well. Provided he’s healthy, I’d say he’ll go .310/.370/460 or thereabouts throughout the life of his current deal. I’d say that’s acceptable.

  3. His defense is def. below average, his arm isn’t at all what it used to be (which Chicago) and his range is totally absent (and would be much more glaring if not for Granderson in center.)

    All that being said, last year he was out of this world offensively, this year he has still been pretty good.

    In total bases he is tied with Curtis for 12th among all American League outfielders

    Hamilton, Dye, Ibanez, Sizemore, Bay, Rios, Quientin, Markakis, Nady, Guerrero and Abreu are ahead of them

  4. I’ll be charitable and call his defense average. He doesn’t have the speed he once had pre-Willie Harris, but he makes up for some of that by taking good routes to the ball. His arm isn’t strong (understatement alert!), but his throws are accurate. He’s probably better suited for LF honestly. Not as much ground to cover, shorter throws and all…

  5. Maggs’ contract may be too big to create much interest from other clubs, that is true. The Tigers also have a few players who’s big (relatively speaking) contracts will create absolutley NO interest for 2 or 3 more years. The fact that they have a boatload of overpaid players makes the necessary changes more difficult to achieve, but they still have to be made.

    Anybody that thinks they can run this gloppy mess out on the field unchanged in ’09 and get significantly improved results is living in Bizarro World. If eating salary is part of what it takes to get better, then they will have to do just that. This over-hyped product may have succeeded in overflowing Illitch’s pockets with greenbacks this year, but I seriously doubt the folks that were duped this time around are going to buy it again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

  6. Tigers aren’t going to contend in ’09 with any team that remotely resembles this year’s roster. I would trade Magglio for nothing just to get rid of the contract, if I were DD. This team needs to rebuild and restructure payrole in order to contend in ’10.

  7. I think the idea is to trade Maggs for pitching help, not prospects. His contract might make that difficult, but I think the Tigers need to explore the idea.

    The Tigers can not go into next season with this pitching staff and expect better results. Who knows if Bonderman, Willis or Freddy Garcia will be able to contribute at all. Nobody knows what, if anything, we’ll get from Galaraga or Robertson next year. Rogers is sure to retire. And that’s not to mention the mess in the bullpen.

    Trade Maggs for a No. 2 or 3 starter, if you can.

    I don’t think the pitching staff can be totally fixed in one off-season. The best they can hope for is to acquire a solid starter via trade or free agency and hope that enough of the guys listed above bounce back.

  8. Trading Maggs would hurt the offense for sure. But, as Leyland has pointed out, Granderson is ready to move to the middle of the order. I’d like to see him bat third, Miggy clean up and Guillen fifth.

    My hope is that the they sign Orlando Carbrerra for SS and bat him lead off.

    I think the Tigers need to take a long look at Sheffield in Spring Training too. If he doesn’t come in dialed in and ready to put up better numbers, release him. Eat the friggin money. If he can’t hit at a better level, he has zero value. Give some of the young outfielders a shot and let Guillen DH full-time. Give Hessman a shot, too.

  9. It is no illusion nor delusion we need a transfusion at season’s conclusion and a cessation without hesitation of our present rotation and a resolution to find a solution to improve the club’s constitution resulting in felicitation, invigoration, elation and good sensation instead of consternation, vexation, dejection and humiliation.

  10. That was awesome, Ron.

    I don’t want Ordonez traded, not even for a top-notch starting pitcher. No one comes close to Magglio’s production over the past 3 seasons. That would be a huge hole to fill. Yes, it would be nice to see more of an emphasis on pitching and defense, but I don’t think the Tigers need to become the Angels to achieve similar results. They just need to get it all together with consistency like any contender does. There’s no exact recipe for that. But letting go of a cornerstone is part of a rebuilding recipe, not a retooling one.

  11. Eric, I should have clarified that I meant “production for the Tigers” regarding any comparison with Ordonez. I’m sure a number of guys in MLB have outclassed Magglio 2006-2008, though not too many.

  12. Animated characters are clearly underrepresented in MLB. It’s about time a player or manager came along to break the actuality barrier. While it’s true there are number of dead and even undead guys in MLB, including the commisioner – and good for them (you go, zombies) – that’s not the same thing. Cartoon managers would add a dimension of fun that’s been missing from the game since, oh, July 30 or so.

  13. I prefer the above “cartoon characters” all of whom we know in real life as opposed to Batman, Ironman… who only exist in the heads of addled, macho wannabes.

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