Finding Pedro Florimon's Value
by, 03-16-2013 at 04:53 PM (816 Views)
Originally posted at Kevin Slowey was Framed!
Yesterday, I unveiled what will almost certainly go down in history as my most popular original idea: a weekly (fake) mailbag. In that mailbag I asked myself... I mean, I was asked about the Twins player I am higher on than most. I chose Pedro Florimon because I think his defense can provide enough value to overcome his complete lack of contribution on offense. I am not sure I explained my point very well and I wasn't feeling good about my selection.
Then, I listened to The Baseball Show with Rany and Joe, a weekly podcast from two baseball writing powerhouses, Joe Sheehan and Rany Jazayerli. They were talking about the Trevor Bauer trade and how much they hated it. Basically, the Diamondbacks traded Bauer for Didi Gregorius, an all-glove, no-bat, low-upside player. Sheehan remarked that they basically traded an elite pitching prospect for Neifi Perez. This lead me to Perez's FanGraphs page. Turns out, he posted a 58 wRC+ for his career. Pedro Florimon posted a 59 wRC+ last season.
Perez was mostly a glove, and didn't offer much in the hitting and baserunning departments. This sounds a lot like Pedro Florimon to me. Sheehan and Jazayerli weren't really questioning Perez or Gregorius as players, but the move to give up a consensus top prospect in order to acquire a player of that caliber. Gregorius might have more upside than they are giving him, but the point makes sense. It is also worth noting that Arizona received Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp in that deal, but I'm not sure that really means a whole lot.
The Diamondbacks have their Neifi Perez, but at the cost of a top pitching prospect. The Twins have their Perez, but got him for basically nothing, claiming him off waivers from Baltimore. In addition, the Twins have a second Perez, in Eduardo Escobar, and they acquired him in a trade for a player that they had pretty much grown apart from in Francisco Liriano.
So, what's the point?
I've been investigating middle infielders a lot lately, and I have come to the realization that a good defensive shortstop is a relatively valuable commodity. Basically, a shortstop with any good quality is pretty rare. A good offensive shortstop is very rare. I made that point in a post last weekend (near the bottom in the Addendum). In addition, good, valuable shortstops are extremely rare, as I posited here.
Florimon is valuable because he was acquired so cheaply and he makes almost no money. In addition, he isn't the type of player who will ever earn a lot of money through the arbitration process, as he isn't likely to put up statistics that bring back big paychecks.
Fine, but how hard is it to get a Florimon or Perez or Gregorius. The Twins got Florimon cheaply, while Arizona gave up a fair amount. The only way to really find out is to find more players who fit this profile. I checked each MLB team's depth chart and found players who roughly fit this profile. I only used players who project to get significant time at shortstop this coming season. I found 14 players.
These players range in their offensive abilities. Some are as poor as Perez, but others have performed at a higher level. Each has been considered below average in their offensive contributions though, using wRC+, or has a poor offensive reputation, based on minor league performance. Now that I have a sample, I investigated how each of these players was acquired by their current team. Here is the chart:
Player Team Salary (in $) How Acquired? Brendan Ryan Seattle 3.25 Mil Traded for Maikel Cleto Adeiny Hechavarria Miami 1.75 Mil Acquired in Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson/Mark Buehrle Blockbuster Ruben Tejada New York M 491 K Amateur Free Agent Zack Cozart Cincinnati 480 K 2nd Round - 2007 Draft Clint Barmes Pittsburgh 5.5 Mil Free Agency - 2 yrs/10.5 Mil Pete Kozma St. Louis League Min 1st Round - 2007 Draft Cliff Pennington Arizona 1.75 Mil Acquired in Chris Young/Heath Bell Trade Didi Gregorius Arizona League Min Acquired in Trevor Bauer Trade Jose Iglesias Boston 2.06 Mil Amateur Free Agent Everth Cabrera San Diego 1.275 Mil Rule 5 Draft Brandon Crawford San Francisco 481 K 4th Round - 2008 Draft Freddy Galvis Philadelphia 480 K Amateur Free Agent Pedro Florimon Minnesota League Min Waivers Eduardo Escobar Minnesota 480 K Francisco Liriano Trade
Upon first glance, it is easy to see that the Neifi Perez type is more of a National League phenomenon. Most American League teams can boast players with average offense, but not all of those shortstops provide good defense. If a better offensive option isn't present, a good defensive shortstop seems to be a worthy trade-off. It shouldn't really matter where a player provides their value.
Looking at the cost of each player, we can see that the Twins might pay the least this year and will have given up the least to acquire their Neifi Perez. This chart includes some early draft picks and some players who were centerpieces in trades for quality MLB players. Others are rule 5 picks, amateur free agents and waiver claims. The range of cost for these players is greater than I would have expected.
While we can debate the true merits of a player like Florimon, if a team chooses to go that route, they could do a lot worse than a waiver claim making the league minimum. One other thing that I like about a defensive shortstop is that they can have a lucky offensive season, and provide bonus value. A random, lucky, good defensive season is pretty unlikely.
Many will argue that glove-first shortstops grow on trees. While this may be true, they aren't showing up in droves on MLB teams, at least not as cheaply as Florimon has. While the Twins did not raise payroll this season, if they choose to in the future, they can save a lot of money for pitching and other positions if they have a player like Florimon at short.
All of this hinges on Florimon's defense. If he is as good defensively as we saw last year, the Twins may have found a valuable commodity, at a bargain basement price. The fatal flaw would be that Florimon's biggest asset is also very hard to properly quantify. Personally, I trust defensive metrics, but many do not. If his defense is not being properly evaluated, his value cannot be accurately calculated. Offense is easy to see on the field and in a spreadsheet, but defense is much tougher.
It's more than just defense though, it's more defense by cost. If Florimon was making $3 million next season, I wouldn't be writing this. Fortunately for the Twins, he will be one of their cheapest players. He may not be a sexy player, but I do know that short of better options, a Florimon type makes sense and clearly other teams agree with the Twins.