Arizona Acquires Juan Miranda

Earlier this month, new Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers declined first baseman Adam LaRoche‘s $7.5 million option for the 2011 season, preferring instead to pay a $1.5 million buyout. Yesterday, Towers sent a teenage arm to the New York Yankees to pick up a long-time minor leaguer with a LaRoche-like skill set.

Arizona acquired first baseman Juan Miranda from the Yankees in exchange for right-handed prospect Scott Allen. Miranda, 27 or 29 depending upon which bio you believe, has scarce big league experience, putting up a 112 wRC+ in 94 plate appearances with New York over the past three seasons. He defected from Cuba in 2004, but wasn’t granted citizenship in the Dominican Republic until 2006. The Yankees inked the lefty batter to a $2 million deal in ’06. In more than 1,200 Triple-A PA since, Miranda has a .287/.374/.481 triple-slash, an 11.4 percent walk rate and a .194 Isolated Power.

According to CHONE’s last projection update in late August, Miranda profiles as a .263/.333/.474 hitter (about +7 runs per 150 games, or 625 PA) at the major league level. LaRoche comes in at .268/.337/.477 (+5 runs/150 games). [Update: Just to clarify, CHONE's runs/150 games, or runs per 625 PA, is based on what a player's projection would look like in a neutral league and park; that's why Miranda's slash stats are slightly lower than LaRoche's but his runs/150 figure is higher - the triple-slash stats are for Miranda in New York and LaRoche in Arizona, while the runs/150 figures are neutralized. The slash stats are in a particular offensive environment, while the runs/150 aren't.] It’s hard to say what the difference between the two is defensively, though LaRoche has generally rated poorly by both UZR and Total Zone. At worst, Miranda figures to be a similar defender, and he’s likely better. Basically, the D-Backs got a LaRoche doppelganger who will make a hair more than the major league minimum.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Miranda is more than first base insurance for Arizona – he’s no special player, and the team could still pursue other options via free agency or trade. But an interesting side question to this trade is, what does this mean for Brandon Allen and Gerardo Parra?

The 6-foot-2, 235 pound Allen played first base exclusively prior to 2010, save for some rookie ball games in the outfield with the White Sox in 2004. But Allen played 33 games in the left field with Triple-A Reno this past year and 14 with the big league club. He showed lots of patience (17.4 BB%) and pop (.267 ISO) at Reno in 2010, but he did that in a cozy offensive environment, and CHONE projects him as a .245/.328/.440 major league batter (-4 Runs/150). If Miranda is the first baseman on Opening Day, Arizona would have to weigh whether Parra’s quality defense makes up for his weak hitting (.280/.324/.399 projection, -13 runs/150). Over the course of a full season, we’re talking about an offensive gap of nearly a win in favor of Allen.

Scott Allen, meanwhile, goes to the Yankees in the Miranda deal. The 19-year-old was an 11th round draft pick in the 2009 draft. In 2010, he posted rates of 9.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 78 innings pitched at South Bend of the Low-A Midwest League. According to Baseball America, the 6-1, 170 pound Allen sits 87-91 MPH with his fastball, mixing in a decent high-70s slider and changeup and a fringy curveball. Allen didn’t crack either Kevin Goldstein’s or John Sickels’ recent lists of top Diamondbacks prospects.

This looks like a worthwhile, if minor, deal for both teams. Arizona gets a cheap, functional first baseman who might prevent them from overpaying for a second-tier free agent option, and the Yankees get a young arm with some upside for a hitter who had no future in the organization.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.

22 Responses to “Arizona Acquires Juan Miranda”

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  1. jss says:

    How do Miranda and LaRoche have the same slash stats but Miranda is +.016 and LaRoche is .008?

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    • Bruce says:

      Miranda’s are actually worse. I’m confused.

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      • Andross says:

        Miranda was projected in NY, and LaRoche in ARI. Arizona’s park is hitter friendly, and the NL West is weaker than the AL East.

        Of course, those could be context neutral projections and a mistake was made. I don’t know.

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  2. Frank says:

    That’s a pretty high K rate for a kid throwing 87-91 with fringy offspead stuff. What’s his upside I wonder? Do they think he’ll fill out a little more and add some velocity?

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  3. Mike says:

    NL west pitching is better than AL east pitching. It’s like people think bc a division is better over all (which the AL east is compared to the NL west) that said division is better in EVERY way.

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    • TL says:

      I don’t buy for a second that the pitching in the NL West is better than the AL East. However, the parks certainly make a difference. Petco, AT&T and Dodger stadium are all pitchers parks. Of course, there is also Colorado and Arizona’s parks which are hitters parks. But all of the AL East parks play as hitters parks including the new Yankee Stadium.

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      • fredsbank says:

        from 2000 to 2010 the AL East has 3 cy young winners, the NL West has 8

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      • Cliff Lee's Changeup says:

        Yea and Bartolo Colon won a Cy Young during that time

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      • fredsbank says:

        yes but lets go year by year: 2010 halladay in the NL east won, over wainwright and ublado despite ubaldo posting the best pitcher WAR in the NL/felix rightly wins in AL; 2009 lincecum/greinke, both deserving; 2008 lincecum with a runner-up of webb both NL west/lee, no argument there; 2007 peavy with webb runner-up again, and either would be legitimate/sabathia in a pretty weak AL year; 2006 webb as a pretty clear winner/santana undoubtedly; 2005 carpenter, case to be made for clemens, willis, pettitte/colon and yeah everyone knows santana should have won; 2004 clemens commits highway robbery of mr. r johnson/santana as expected; 2003 eric gagne puts up 4.3 WAR as a closer in an otherwise weak year, prior as bet competition/halladay wins, but loaiza, pedro and hudson all have good cases; 2002 johnson, next best schilling still in the west/zito, but lowe or pedro could be argued; 2001 johnson does his thing/clemens jobs mussina; 2000 johnson does his thing, maddux and brown post arguable years/pedro 2000 is a story we all know too well

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      • fredsbank says:

        my point being that they weren’t too terribly off on the cy young voting in this time period, clemens and colon stand out as the worst offenses, clemens’s award should have been NL west and colon’s should have been AL central

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      • Max says:

        Wait….are you really trying to compare the current pitching of two divisions (in 2 different leagues) by counting the number of Cy Young awards each has won in the last 11 seasons?

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  4. David Golebiewski says:

    Hey guys,

    I updated the post and clarified – the AVG/OBP/SLG stats are for a particular offensive environment (namely, Miranda in NY and LaRoche in ARZ), while the Runs/150 figures are park and league neutralized. That’s why Miranda has lower slash stats but a higher neutralized runs/150 figure than LaRoche – his environment is less hospitable to hitters. Sorry for any confusion.

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  5. Robert Zimmerman says:

    Somebody better read him his Miranda rights. Zing!

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  6. Raf says:

    It’s a good deal for both teams. Miranda wasn’t going to get much playing time in NY, what with Teix @ 1b and Posada @ DH. He gives AZ another option at 1b, or at the very least, a bat off the bench.

    Kevin Towers worked in the Yankee organization before signing with AZ as their GM, so he may have seen something in Miranda while he was there.

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  7. CircleChange11 says:

    This is no fun. I want to see Reynolds at 3B and Brandon Allen at 1B.

    They could challenge 500 combined K’s.

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