Dayan Viciedo was released by the White Sox on Wednesday after the club designated him for assignment the week prior.
Viciedo, 25, should – in theory – be an interesting option for a number of clubs.
He’s young, he’s still under team control for three more years, and he has some serious right-handed power at a time where clubs are placing significant value on power.
Unfortunately, those are the only three items that would show up on the good side of a “pros and cons” list if a team were evaluating Viciedo in the same manner that I use to decide which Doritos flavor to purchase.
You see, despite those three very solid positives, the other side of that list would be chock-full of reasons not to sign the guy; he’s a very bad outfielder, he is mediocre running the bases, he’s flat-out horrible at getting on-base, and he can really only hit against lefties.
Oh yeah, and if that weren’t enough knocks against signing the guy, it seems that he’s looking for regular playing time as well.
That’s the message coming from Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty in response to rumors that the club was interested in signing Viciedo:
“We talked to his representative but I don’t know if we have a fit for him,” Jocketty said. “They’re looking for more playing time. With our outfield the way it is, I don’t see it as a good fit.”
Cincinnati appears to have a fully-stocked outfield with Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, and Marlon Byrd already in place for Opening Day.
I’m going to operate under the assumption that maybe – just maybe – Viciedo is balking at becoming a fourth outfielder/bench bat as opposed to operating in a platoon.
If that’s the case, I get it. He’s only 25-years-old and marginalizing himself by willingly becoming a bench bat could be problematic toward future earnings.
That said, if he’s flat-out unwilling to settle for anything less than regular playing time and at-bats, then this dude is off his rocker.
He’s got some serious power, no doubt about it. He hit 21 homers last season, 14 long balls in 2013, and 25 dingers in 2012 for Chicago; but all of that power is accompanied by a career .254/.298/.424 batting line and 388/95 K/BB ratio. Not pretty.
The bigger issue is his inability to do anything against right-handed pitching; against whom he has a career .679 OPS. When facing southpaws, he has a decidedly more robust .837 OPS.
It’s hard to find an immediate match, but I’ve scrounged around and put together a list of four potential suitors that could make some sense – assuming Viciedo is willing to play a much smaller role than he did in his time with Chicago.
Without any further ado, here are the four potential landing spots for Dayan Viciedo:
San Francisco Giants
The defending World Series champions watched Pablo Sandoval (.465 career slugging percentage) and Michael Morse (.473) depart via free agency this offseason. To replace them, the club brought in Casey McGehee (.400) and Nori Aoki (.387). Needless to say, that’s a step backwards in the power department for a club that wasn’t exactly a Murder’s Row with Sandoval and Morse.
Viciedo doesn’t deserve to start anywhere on this club, but as a right-handed bench bat, he could provide some solid pop. When injuries or interleague play call for it, he could form a nifty platoon with Travis Ishikawa who has a career .735 OPS against right-handers and just a .595 OPS against southpaws.
While Jocketty has seemingly ruled him out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cincinnati circle back his way if/when Viciedo reassesses the marketplace for one-dimensional ballplayers in early February. Needless to say, I’m expecting Viciedo will realize the ball isn’t exactly in his court right now.
As touched on earlier, he wouldn’t have an obvious role in Cincinnati, but he provides far more power than any of the bench options currently available – especially against lefties – and, if he learns to play a passable first base, he could allow the club to rest Joey Votto at DH during interleague play and give him the occasional day off to keep him healthy and in the lineup.
This one mostly falls into the category of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ until we get some information after Victor Martinez undergoes knee surgery on Tuesday. If the Detroit slugger requires a significant recovery time, Viciedo is basically the only legitimate power bat left in free agency that the Tigers could bring in to replace Martinez.
The club would still, undoubtedly, want to find a platoon partner for Viciedo – perhaps Alex Avila gets a “day off” at DH instead of behind the dish – but he would be a cheap stopgap solution if the need should arise.
Viciedo’s poor on-base skills mean that he’s not a very strong fit with the type of players that Billy Beane generally targets, but the club could use some power. Since last season the club has traded away Josh Donaldson (.458 career slugging percentage), Brandon Moss (.460), and Yoenis Cespedes (.464). They replaced them with Billy Butler (.449), Ike Davis (.423), Brett Lawrie (.426), and Ben Zobrist (.429).
As it currently stands, Sam Fuld is the club’s every day left fielder and, as a lefty, he would seem to form a natural platoon with Viciedo; except that Fuld has an odd, reverse-split in that his OPS against lefties (.673) is better than his OPS (.640) versus right-handers. Despite the obvious lack of a fit, the need for some additional pop is definitely there.
So, uh, there you have it. Those are the four potential landing spots for Viciedo in the final days before spring training.
Admittedly, it took a lot of digging to find a situation that made much sense, but I believe I’ve chosen a winner (and we’re using that term very loosely for this exercise) – the Oakland Athletics.
Ultimately, the Athletics make the most sense because it fills the (likely) needs of the team and the desires of the player.
Outfielders Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick haven’t been iron men in recent years so the potential for increased playing time is certainly there and – despite all of Viciedo’s short-comings – he can probably hold his own, offensively, in competition with Fuld or Craig Gentry if/when the club has a need in the outfield.
He’s far from an ideal solution, but the Athletics are hoping to make another bid for the American League West and adding some firepower to their bench – and utilizing him correctly – could go a long way toward making that happen.
As for Viciedo, it’s the best likely landing spot to maximize his playing time and potentially continue his career as an everyday player in lieu of a platoon or bench role.