Though it wasn’t very flashy, the Brewers quietly made a deadline trade with the Diamondbacks, dealing a couple minor leaguers for a guy with a negative WAR. Going to Arizona: Mitchell Haniger and Anthony Banda. Haniger is the better prospect of the two, although he’s got a low ceiling and an unspectacular 2014 campaign under his belt. Going to Milwaukee: Gerardo Parra, who joins an outfield that already includes Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, and Khris Davis. Parra’s WAR stands at -0.3.
But, a year ago, it was 4.6, tied for 26th in all of baseball. With that kind of massive decline, you assume an offensive dropoff, and, sure enough, Parra’s wRC+ has dipped. But his modest skills are intact, and the biggest reason for the statistical dip is on the defensive side. The numbers think that, this year, Parra’s been a roughly average defensive outfielder. Last year he was fourth in baseball in overall Defense rating, right by the spectacular Gomez. Beyond that, Parra’s played all over, and here are his league rankings between 2009 – 2013 (1000-inning minimum):
Left field: 8th out of 60 in UZR/150
Center field: 20th out of 64
Right field: 1st out of 47
There’s a good bit of evidence that Parra is one of baseball’s better and more rangey outfielders. He hasn’t been hurt in 2014, and his own manager thinks he’s been fine. The Brewers are assuming that Parra is better than his 2014 statistics, and you can’t really blame them:
Assuming Parra’s still a good defensive outfielder, then he has value, and he improves a Brewers team that’s still fighting for its life. At the plate, he’s weakest against lefties, but as it works out, Parra’s left-handed and Davis is right-handed so we could have the makings here of something of a platoon. At least, Parra’s a fourth outfielder and defensive replacement, and few teams have a guy with such a great standout skill available on the bench. It’s a somewhat low-impact move for the Brewers, but Parra’s better than Logan Schafer, and this raises the team’s floor. Plus, if they’re extra daring, they can control Parra for 2015 as well. So far the Cardinals have made the NL Central splashes, but the Brewers paid relatively little for a guy who, several months ago, would’ve cost an upper-level prospect. It was a good time to strike.
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