George Sherrill Traded To Dodgers

It was a busy day for the Orioles today.  First, the O’s get a split in their series with the Royals by winning the fourth game 7-3.  Ty Wigginton homered, Aubrey Huff went 2-3 with 3 RBI, and Felix Pie picked up a couple of hits.  Brad Bergesen pitched well (7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K) but had to leave the game after being hit on the leg by a line-drive; X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day, so that’s good news at least.  Then, it was revealed that George Sherrill has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for third-baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steven Johnson.  I discussed a potential Sherrill trade previously, but now that we know who it’s for we can make a better judgment. On Sherrill’s value, I’ll quote myself: “Unlike with Huff, it’s harder to get an idea about Sherrill’s future value to the team.  By their nature – and the small number of innings they throw each year – reliever performance can be somewhat volatile.  To pull some stuff completely out of the air, let’s say Sherrill pitches to a 3.50 FIP for the rest of the year.  He’ll be getting paid $1.2 M and would produce about $2.7 in value – good for a $1.5 M surplus to the team. In their arbitration years, players tend to get around 40%, 60%, and 80% of their actual value in salary – Sherrill is a Super-Two though, so he’ll likely make 80% in both of the final years.  That means that if Sherrill is going to produce at around a 1 WAR level (between this year and last year, and about on par with his last two years in Seattle), he “should” get paid around $4.5 M a year and so will pull in about $3.8 M a year. That’s an additional $0.7 M a year in surplus value to the team. Assuming that level of performance, Sherrill would probably end up a Type-B free agent, though it depends on his save totals and all that (I think). That would net the team a draft pick worth about $2.5 M in excess value [Edit: adjusted draft pick value from 1.5 to 2.5]. So the total there – and remembering that there’s a lot of wand-waving going on – is $5.4 M. That’s not quite at the level of a B prospect (around $7.3 M for pitchers and $5.5 M for hitters), but given that a team willing to trade for Sherrill is probably in contention and adding a quality lefty reliever to their pen would increase their chances of making the playoffs (which has a real tangible benefit to the team), I think a B prospect would be more than reasonable” Josh Bell is a 22 year-old switch-hitting third-baseman.  In Double-A this year, he’s hit .296/.386/.496 with 11 home runs, after a .273/.373/.455 line at A+ last year (which was cut short by a knee injury).  In 2008 he had a big jump in walks from the 8.5% of plate appearances range to 14.2%.  This year, he’s mostly maintained that (13.2%) while also cutting down on his strike-outs (from 29.9% to 20.6%).  Bell was only rated as a C+ prospect before the season by John Sickles of Minor League Ball – which would only have been worth around $1 M in excess value – but that involved questions about him being able to stay at third-base (which aren’t quite as prevalent now) and before he moved up a level and still improved his batting.  Alex Eisenberg of Baseball-Intellect rated Bell a B- before the season, and said a reasonable best-case outcome would be an average to slightly below average third-baseman.  Bell is supposed to have some power potential in has bat, though it hasn’t translated into a lot of in-game power yet. If that walk-rate is real though, and he can play a decent third-base then he should be a solid contributor even with only 15-20 HR power. I’d say there’s a decent chance that at this point Bell would be considered a B/B- prospect, so his value would be closer to $4-6 M. Steven Johnson is a 21 year-old right-hander (and son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson).  He’s only made a couple of starts at Double-A this year, but before being called up he was 8-4 with a 3.82 ERA (4.46 FIP) in 96.2 IP at A+.  He posted good strike-outs rates (9.50 K/9 in ’09, 9.52 K/9 in ’08) and OK walk-rates (3.91 BB/9 in ’09, 3.63 BB/9 in ’08), but was victimized by the longball (1.30 HR/9 in ’09, 1.56 HR/9 in ’08) as a result of being a pretty extreme flyball pitcher (only 34% groundball rate in ’09, 31% in ’08).  As we saw from Tillman last night, giving up a lot of flyballs does bring those disadvantages. From Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus: “He’s not a monster by any stretch, but his fastball and breaking ball both rate a tick above average and there’s some deception to his delivery. Scouts think he could fit in the back of the rotation when all is said and done.” If you grade him as a C/C- level prospect then that’s another $2 M or so in excess value. I have mild concerns about Bell sticking at third long-term, but if he keeps hitting this well then there’s a possibility that he’ll begin 2010 as the Orioles starting third-baseman. Johnson is pretty good as a throw-in and might develop into an intereting arm.  I don’t immediately love the deal, but I sure like it and it was the right thing to do. There will be talk about who takes over as closer, but given the team’s record I don’t think that really matters right now – a lot of fans (this one included) will certainly miss seeing Flat Breezy coming out from the pen though. Not a steal (the O’s come out maybe $1-3 M ahead), but Andy MacPhail once again moves the team closer to contention.