Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dodgers lose Rod Barajas and Jamey Carroll

The Dodgers lost a pair of free agents in the last two days -- Rod Barajas and Jamey Carroll.

Barajas signed a 1-year, $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. The deal also includes an option for 2013 at $3.5 million.

There are a few things to go over here.
  1. Why did he sign so quick?
  2. Why did he get so much money?
  3. Implications for the Dodgers
Well, this is the Pirates we're talking about, so that could very well answer questions No. 1 and 2. However, Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts found an interesting article from Hardball Talk by Matthew Pouliot.
"I imagine it has something to do with the recent work that’s gone into evaluating catcher defense. According to Max Marchi’s work on The Hardball Times presented earlier this year, Barajas is one of the game’s very best pitch framers. Among starting catchers, only Russell Martin and Brian McCann do better in that area, which was pretty much impossible to evaluate before PITCHf/x data came along."
Interesting statistic, which partially explains the quick signing and the higher-than-expected price tag. Hell, last year's $3.25 million deal looks like a bargain at this rate.

The third part is the best and most interesting part regarding the Dodgers. Barajas is a Type-B free agent and it was highly unlikely General Manager Ned Colleti was going to offer Barajas arbitration. By signing before the Nov. 23 deadline, the Dodgers automatically receive a compensatory pick in the form of a supplemental first-round choice.

To quote Peter Griffin, "It's win freakin' win, baby."

Carroll is headed to the American League Central, signing a 2-year, $7 million deal to be the Minnesota Twins' starting shortstop.

I wish Carroll all the luck in the world. His signing was not met with enthusiasm by yours truly. However, he was a far more valuable player than his statistics would lead you to believe. His 2.2 fWAR was good for fourth-best on the squad in 2011. His 2.5 fWAR in 2010 was good enough for third-best on the team.

As an everyday starting shortstop, though, I'm betting Carroll has difficulties. He might ultimately devolve into a utility player again. At the age of 37, he isn't likely to be any better now than he was a couple years ago. At $3.5 million annually, the Dodgers simply couldn't afford to bring him back.

These two moves fall in line with my off-season plan as I didn't have either returning. This will prompt Colletti to bring in a veteran catcher because there's no way he lets A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz share the duties full-time in 2012.

I kind of wish he'd let Ellis have a go at it. He isn't going to hit for much power, but he has solid on-base skills (.360 OBP in 244 career MLB plate appearances, .406 OBP in 2,119 minor-league plate appearances).

I'm not a fan of Federowicz, but if the Dodgers can save money behind the plate with glove-first guys, then they should do it.

Also, losing Carroll puts more pressure on Juan Uribe (to stay healthy, first of all) and Justin Sellers. Ivan DeJesus could also be mentioned, but I'd be shocked if he actually gets a shot in 2012.

Dee Gordon also has pressure to stay healthy, but I'm hoping that isn't an issue. He missed time in his rookie season, but it was a bit of a freak injury. Still, the Dodgers could use a littlemiddle infield depth.

Losing Carroll also increases the chances Aaron Miles is re-signed. I have no evidence to back that up other than Colletti's infatuation with short, light-hitting middle infielders.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote the Dodgers are looking at Clint Barmes, Mark Ellis and Aaron Hill.

Hill is a guy I really like as a bounce-back player. He would have been in my off-season plan if I hadn't conducted a trade for Martin Prado. I'm not sold on Barmes being any good (because he isn't) and Eliis showed signs of ability a few years ago and plays a good defensive second base.

Jim Bowden tweeted the Diamondbacks are close to re-signing Hill, so if the Dodgers want in on him, they need to act quickly.

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