Orioles Acquire Julio Lugo For Infield Depth

The Orioles made a trade today*, picking up Julio Lugo from the St. Louis Cardinals in return for a player to be named later (or cash). I included Lugo previously in a post on potential replacements for Brian Roberts in case he was hurt, but now that a deal is done it makes sense to take a slightly closer look.

* Thanks for holding on until the day after I put up the O’s projections to add a player, Andy. Nothing major changes though.

Lugo is a 34 year-old shortstop who had a few good seasons with the Rays back in the mid aughts. He signed a big contract with the Red Sox in 2007 – 4 years and $36 M – but was largely ineffective and was dealt to the Card’s last year for Chris Duncan, with Boston picking up all of his salary. That means the O’s only need to pay the minimum of his $9 M contract for 2010, which is a plus.

As a hitter, Lugo will take a base on balls but doesn’t hit for much average or have any real power to speak of. All of the projection systems came in around .255/.330/.360, which makes him 7-8 runs below average with the bat in a full season (600 PA).

Defensively, Lugo had an atrocious UZR^ last year in a small number of innings. Jeff Zimmerman’s UZR projections have him as -7 runs at shortstop and -4 runs at second. CHONE has him worse than that in Total Zone, so maybe set it at -8 at short and -5 at second.

If you assume that Lugo will get about 100 PA at each of second and short, then he comes in at somewhere around 3 runs above replacement^. Since Robert Andino is basically a replacement level player, that’s all upside.

If the cost is nothing, then it’s an OK move. Andino is out of options so he’d need to be made available to other teams if the O’s wanted to send him down to the minors, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it through waivers. You could make the argument that a younger – and hopefully improving – Andino is worth more to the team in general than a slightly better in 2010 Lugo, but in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. As long as Andy didn’t have to give up anything of value, that is. And I still would have liked an option with some more upside, if a deal was to be made.