Omar Vizquel to the South Side

If multiple reports from Friday come to fruition, the Chicago White Sox will make the first major league signing of the free agency period by adding infielder Omar Vizquel. Terms are unavailable; however, given Vizquel’s modest one-year for $1M contract last season, it seems unlikely that Kenny Williams is breaking the bank on the 42-year-old who turns 43 in late April.

In limited action as Elvis Andrus’ mentor, Vizquel actually hit fairly well by his standards. In 195 plate appearances he batted .266/.316/.345 and possessed a .301 wOBA. That’s an accomplishment considering he hadn’t topped .300 for a full season since 2006. Clearly Vizquel isn’t in baseball because of his lackluster bat, but instead because of his well-earned reputation as a defensive virtuoso.

Vizquel’s UZR/150 the last three years at shortstop rate as “fantastic”, “great”, and “historical”, which is probably a bit optimistic and scrambled by small sample sizes in the previous two seasons. The Fans Scouting Report showed that 15 voters thought highly of him, though, and Dewan’s +/- says he’s saved about 25 runs the past three years at short. It’s hard to get a good read on just how much another year will affect Vizquel’s range and other defensive capabilities. It seems completely plausible that with enough playing time he could be a well-above average defender but, at the same time, completely ludicrous. I’ll stay conservative and say above average, albeit to a lesser degree than +10. Maybe in the 5 < x < 10 range. The White Sox’s infield situation was already intriguing, with Gordon Beckham changing positions and Alexei Ramirez sitting around. Throw in probably the best defensive shortstop over the last decade and it would seem tempting to either shift Ramirez to second base and leave Beckham at third, or put Ramirez at third with Vizquel and Beckham up the middle. There’s also the possibility of having Vizquel simply play third base as he did with the Rangers last season. Of course there’s also Mark Teahen and … well, Ozzie Guillen can’t complain about a lack of infield options next year, now can he?

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