Should The O’s Trade For Carlos Guillen?

I saw an interesting trade proposed at Orioles Hangout recently. The O’s would send Luke Scott and Brandon Erbe over to the Tigers in return for Carlos Guillen and first-base prospect Ryan Strieby. Is such a move reasonable, and would it make sense for the Orioles?

Scott hit .258/.340/.488 this year, mostly as a DH. He was worth 1.5 Wins Above Replacement, but if he played the outfield in Detroit (where he’s around average) it would likely be closer to the 2.0 WAR he was worth as the O’s left-fielder in 2008. Scott still has three arbitration years left, so assuming he’d produce at a similar level with a slight decline as he ages (he is 31, after  all) – something like 1.8 WAR, 1.6 WAR, 1.4 WAR – he’d earn about $4.8 M, $6.1 M, $5.8 M (with salary inflation) and provide total excess value of around  $6.2 M to the team (as an outfielder). With Felix Pie playing left-field and Nolan Reimold DH’ing (maybe), the O’s don’t especially need Luke all that much.

Erbe only pitched 86.2 innings this year due to injury (mostly at Double-A), and was mostly just OK. His 2.34 ERA at the higher level is nice, but the 4.12 FIP isn’t so much. His strike-out rate fell to 7.64 K/9, while the walks shot up to 4.32 BB/9. He came into the year as a B prospect, and I might bump that down to B- at this point. That would put the 22 year-olds expected excess value somewhere around $5 M. He’s not the O’s best pitching prospect anymore, and they’ve got a lot of other young arms in the organization.

Guillen hit .242/.339/.419 in just 322 plate appearances this year for Detroit. Most of his time with a glove was spent in left-field (-10.3 UZR/150 games), but he played third in 2008 (-4.2 UZR/150) and short in 2007 (-13.3 UZR/150). Assuming his wOBA bounces back from .328 closer to the .360 he had in ’08 and ’07 (he had just a .267 BABIP this year; career its .325), Guillen is somewhere around a 2.5 WAR guy as a third-baseman (which is, I imagine, where the O’s would put him mostly).  At that level for two years (not even doing aging despite him being 34), he’d be worth about $23 M. He will be paid $26 M ($13 M a year, through 2011). That’s a loss of $3 M. But it would give the O’s a guy who could theoretically hit a little at third while Josh Bell gets some more time in the minors.

Stieby hit .303/.427/.565 in 362 Double-A plate appearances this year, after posting a .278/.352/.563 line at High-A last year.  The 24 year-old strikes out a lot, but you have to like the walk rates. He’s probably a first-baseman or a DH later on, but there have been reports of some not completely awful play in left-field as well. I’d say he’s about a C+ prospect at this point, giving him an expected excess value in the neighborhood of $2 M. He’s blocked by Miguel Cabrera at first in Detroit, and the O’s could certainly use the power bat.

So the O’s would trade around $11 M in excess value for about $0 in excess value. Even if you think I’m undercounting Strieby, it’s still not close. The Birds could always ask the Tigers to just give them Guillen and Stieby (the prospect is the price for taking Carlos off their hands), but I don’t imagine that would go over too well. Or they could send over a bunch of money to help offset Guillen’s contract. If they threw in another prospect I’d send Luke over, since he’s got more value to Detroit as an outfielder than he does to the Orioles as a DH. No way on adding Erbe in though. I will admit that the move would make the Orioles better in 2010 on the field (by maybe 1 win, 2 at most), but it’s not a great use of resources.