Pending Option Spotlight: Magglio Ordonez

Magglio Ordonez‘s bat was just too good to keep off the field in 2008 and 2009. Normally, that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but Ordonez’s 1141 plate appearancesĀ during that stretch forced the 2010 Tigers to commit $18 million dollars to the aging outfielder. Ordonez had a good 2010, posting a .375 wOBA, but a fractured right ankle limited him to only 365 plate appearances and therefore a 2.5 WAR – again, solid, but nowhere near $18 million dollars of value.

Although it’s feasible that Ordonez could have kept the Tigers in the race – they were only 2.5 back of Chicago and 1.5 behind Minnesota at the time of the injury – the Tigers will at least avoid a second, $15 million vesting option in 2011. Ordonez’s 365 PAs to end the season easily dodged the 540 PA threshold which would have vested the option.

The Tigers still could exercise the option on their own, but there’s no way to rationalize paying a soon-to-be 36 year old slugger coming off a major injury at a 3.5-4 WAR price. Ordonez is therefore certain to hit the free agent market, where a player of his caliber – 6.6 WAR in the last three seasons – will inevitably be coveted somewhere around the league.

Ordonez’s suitors in the NL figure to be limited due to his lack of defensive value, but there should be an AL team willing to add another bat like Ordonez given the pathetic state of the DH position. Not a single team put up a better mark than Ordonez’s .375 wOBA, and only the Orioles (Luke Scott), Red Sox (David Ortiz), Twins (Jim Thome), and Rangers (Vladimir Guerrero) equaled or bettered Ordonez’s +21 run offensive projection from CHONE.

There are three players on last year’s free agent market that strike me as similar to Ordonez: Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero, and Hideki Matsui. If teams still feel that Ordonez is a legitimate right fielder – a possibility given his -7 DRS since 2008 – Abreu’s two year, $19 million deal makes a lot of sense. If he’s relegated to a DH role – a stronger possibility in my opinion, given the injury and a -15 UZR/-19 TZ since 2008 – perhaps a one year, incentive laden deal like those of Guerrero and Matsui will be all the market has for him. If CHONE’s projected value of Ordonez is on, he should look for a roughly $10 million AAV on a new contract in the field and slightly less as a primary DH.

Among teams with ideas of contention, the White Sox and Rays could take a look at Ordonez, and perhaps the Tigers could bring him back on a cheaper deal. Seattle would be a short term fit too, but they likely won’t be competing in 2011 and Ordonez probably doesn’t project as much of a long term investment, unless he’s a trade chip. Unless a team has a log jam at DH and COF, it would be hard to criticize them for bringing Ordonez on board, and at the right price, he could be the bat that vaults a team into the playoffs.

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10 Responses to “Pending Option Spotlight: Magglio Ordonez”

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  1. Jamie says:

    3yr 36m contract coming from the phillies.

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  2. Matt says:

    I think you should count the BoSox in on Ordonez as well. They would love to sign a guy like him to a one year deal at $10M (similar to Beltre) and they can certainly stick him over in LF. The Sox don’t want to commit any serious years/money to a FA OF this year, so Ordonez is just what they needed. He will be a bridge until one of their young outfielders is ready to take over for good.

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    • phoenix says:

      if ortiz stays as the DH, he would be competing for some time there. I think they want to stick with a younger outfielder though.

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      • Matt says:

        Ortiz needed to be platooned last year. If the Sox lose Beltre and/or Vmart they will have no choice but to platoon Papi next year after his abysmal performance against LHP this year. This move is a no brainer. They have plenty of young outfielders that can handle the outfield while Ortiz sits. The sox want a young guy, but they want it to be from their system. What better way to get them ready than a one year stop-gap of Ordonez?

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  3. phoenix says:

    he could be the yankees’ DH as they don’t seem to have one. and he is capable of playing some outfield if/when one of them gets injured or you want to DH swisher or something. If the Yankees sign cliff lee, they will have probably between 5 and 15mil to commit to a DH, so ordonez can fit in there. Or they can just bring back godzilla…

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  4. Steven says:

    He’d actually be a pretty poor fit for Seattle. Safeco is death to right-handed hitters, and with a low projected shopping budget this year (estimated around $10 million this year) it’s unlikely that they’d spend the resources to bring an aging right-handed, bat-first player, coming off of an ankle injury, into that environment.

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  5. Mike N says:

    The first post, about 3 yrs from the Phils, sent chills down my spine…NO RUBEN, NO.

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  6. Ken says:

    Tigers already declined the option on 10/4, per Cot’s.

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  7. Tigerdog says:

    The free agent market for outfielders is dreadfully thin this year. Crawford, Werth, and little or nothing after that. There are a large number of players that are much better off as a DH, or maybe 1B, and they cost quite a bit less to sign. I’d rather trust Magglio in the outfield than Dunn, for example.

    I don’t think the Tigers would have a problem with giving Magglio a fair contract, but he has an agent that likes to ignore all other factors except money, money, and money. And we’re talking about the total value of a contract. Magglio will go where he gets a two year deal (I can’t see a three year offer), but may have to settle for one year plus an option. Maybe a vesting option with a buyout, like he had last go around.

    One thing is for sure, and that is the Tiger lineup will sorely miss Magglio’s bat if he does not return. Signing one bat for the middle of the order, while letting Magglio and Damon walk is a downgrade for the team that finished 8th in runs scored in 2010.

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  8. Mr Punch says:

    I suspect the BoSox will look hard at Werth; if they don’t sign him they might turn to Ordonez, more as a platoon DH (Matt’s second thought) than in left – he’s not playing LF in Yankee Stadium, that’s for sure!

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