Good thing I got that article off on Friday, right?
Completely blowing past my recommendations, Jed Hoyer went out and acquired Cameron Maybin from the Florida Marlins in return of Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica.
A former megaprospect who was thrice ranked in Baseball America’s top 10, Maybin’s had trouble transferring his success to the majors. In 610 plate appearances, all over the course of four different seasons, Maybin has a career OPS of .692, a step down from the .878 he posted in Triple-A. It’s easy to be cynical about this acquisition but this is yet another move that reinforces my faith in Hoyer.
Here’s what the word on Maybin was before the big leagues beat his reputation down:
Maybin is a prototypical five-tool player still learning how to turn his potential into performance. He has tremendous bat speed with plenty of power potential in his frame. Though willing to take walks, he needs to improve his strike-zone judgment. His plus speed can change games on the bases and particularly in the outfield. He covers a ton of ground and his above-average arm plays very well in center.
The good news is that Maybin hasn’t lost any limbs or gotten addicted to any drugs since that was written, so he’s still the same player he was. The bad news is that he hasn’t really improved his strike-zone judgement and he hasn’t developed as an outfielder. In his 548 at-bats, Maybin has struck out 172 times, or 31.4% of the time, and he’s not getting better, having a strike out rate of 31.6% in 2010. And despite his career UZR of 5.1 in center, Maybin’s left some question mark out there as well. In his analysis of the trade, Tom Krasovic noted that Maybin frustrated the Marlins with his “dull defensive instincts.” If I may be a little pretentious, Maybin sounds like a lump of coal who’s a good squeeze away from turning into a diamond.
Moving on to the other part of the trade, Webb and Mujica were no small price to be paid. Both pitchers played their parts in the team’s league-leading bullpen, and Webb especially showed signs of being something special, but five-tool center fielders don’t come cheap. With young guys like Gregerson and Frieri already in the back of the bullpen, and younger guys like Scribner waiting in the wings, Hoyer took a chance and made a move from depth to fill a need.
What the Maybin acquisition means for the rest of the team is yet to be seen. The risk of Maybin not coming through seems too big to ignore and the team will have to prepare accordingly. In his write-up on the Maybin acquisition, Bill Center mentioned that two of Chris Denorfia, Scott Hairston, and Tony Gwynn, Jr. are likely to be non-tendered. Hairston’s cut seems assured, as he will begin making much more money than he’s worth, leaving Norf and AJ. Center singles out AJ, saying, “Gwynn was praised for his defensive play in center last season. But the left-handed hitter batted only .204 in 289 at-bats with three homers, 20 RBI and a .304 on-base percentage.” Ignore for a second that I’m the biggest AJ stan on the internet (do people still say “stan?”) and think about this for a second: if Maybin’s struggles continue, do you really want Bud Black running Chris Denorfia back out into center? Me neither.
The team could still slide Venable over from right field, although they’ve been incredibly hesitant to do so, or they could look elsewhere. In the free agent class, there are some former Padres (Jody Gerut, Jim Edmonds), some aging sluggers (Jim Edmonds [again!], Andruw Jones), and some Atlanta Braves rejects (Rick Ankiel, Melky Cabrera). It should be interesting to see what direction Hoyer goes with the bench.
Overall, this was a good weekend for the Padres. For an affordable price, the Padres were able to acquire an All-Star talent at one of the hardest positions in baseball to fill. Nothing is for certain, but then that’s the Padres for you.