Old McDonald Has A Place With The O’s?

The playoffs aren’t even over yet, but the offseason player acquisition talk has already begun. One recent rumor is that the Orioles are interested in former Blue Jay John McDonald as a back-up (I assume) infielder. So would it make sense for the O’s to pick up the 35 year-old?

First off, McDonald can’t hit. At all. His career high wOBA (in a season with more than 10 at bats) is .298, when he hit .277/.326/.325 in 2005. That is pretty atrocious. For his career, McDonald’s hit .238/.276/.317 with a .264 wOBA.

To make up for that level of offense, McDonald would need to play some terrific defense. He’s done so in the past, posting a +12.4 UZR/150 games at shortstop in 2007 (the most time he’s spent at any position in a season – 102 games). Since then though, he’s been just around average (-1.4 UZR/150, +0.9 UZR/150) at short in less time and – Cap’n Jeter not withstanding – shortstops don’t tend to improve their defense when going into their late 30s.

So if he can’t hit and he fields just OK at short (assumed to then be plus at second or third, but of course the position adjustment is taken into account when valuing him), what exactly separates him from Robert Andino (just a .248 wOBA last year, but +5.5 UZR/150 at short)*? Especially considering McDonald would likely cost in the millions of dollars (if even only $2 M), while Andino is cheap. Neither guy is going to give you much more than replacement level production, so why not stick with the guy who’s less expensive and has the higher upside?

* We’ll “Better Know” Robert sometime in the future – needless to say, he’s probably not quite as bad a hitter as he looked like in 2009.