The Orioles have essentially completed a three-team deal in which they traded cash to the Oakland A’s in return for outfielder Jai Miller and then picked up cash from the Texas Rangers while sending them Brandon Snyder.
Taking the latter deal first, trading prospects for cash doesn’t seem like something the O’s should be doing, but I’ve never thought all that much of Snyder. The 25 year-old’s chances of being a good Major Leaguer took a huge hit when he had to give up catching, as his bat didn’t seem likely to play at first-base. In three seasons at Triple-A, Snyder hit just .256/.317/.394. He didn’t walk much (7% of the time) or hit for power (only 13 home runs per 150 games), while striking out to much (22% of the time) to hit for a high average even with good BABIPs (~.317). I’ve heard that Snyder has turned himself into a fine defensive first-baseman at this point, but he’d need to be Keith Hernandez over there to sniff replacement level unless hi improved offensively. It would have been nice to turn Snyder into another (possibly higher ceiling but lower level) prospect, but I can imagine no team being willing to part with one. It is interesting that Dan Duquette once again showed a willingness to trade away a mediocre prospect for nothing worth much long-term in return.
Jai Miller will take Snyder’s 40-man roster spot. The (in two weeks) 27 year-old similarly has very little major league playing team, but has hit .271/.351/.516 in four Triple-A seasons. He swings and misses more than Snyder (a 31% strike-out rate in the minors is pretty awful), but at least he’s hit for power (30 homers per 150 games, though much of that comes from 2011 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League) and taken some walks (10% of the time). 47 stolen bases isn’t a lot over 423 games, but at least his success rate is about 80%. Miller’s minor league Total Zone numbers are in positive territory (both in the corners and in center), but that data is only through 2009 (though he’s supposed to have a good glove). Given that it took a BABIP around .356 for Miller to hit even .271 in Triple-A, I wouldn’t expect him to be much of a hitter (even if he draws a couple free passes and hits some dingers). If the glove-work is still a plus though, that might play as a 4th outfielder. This trade is the kind in which one should pick up these kinds* of players.
* Chris Davis, admittedly, has much better minor league numbers. But he doesn’t play center-field, does he? I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for Miller, but I think one can consider it at least.
The O’s have also brought on pitching coach Rick Peterson to do work with minor league pitchers in some capacity (“pitching guru” is how I’ve heard it described), and trainer Chris Correnti to do rehab and conditioning work (also with minor league pitchers). These are the kinds of organizational moves that can have real longer-term effects, and could easily swamp the impacts of the minor trades Dan Duquette has made this year. The Orioles have been pretty bad with developing their young pitchers, so focus on that process is very nice to see.