The Cincinnati Reds attempted to strengthen their postseason chances by acquiring OF Jim Edmonds from the Brewers today for OF Chris Dickerson. Edmonds was apparently a decently hot commodity on the waiver wire with the lack of big bats available at the trade deadline, but the first place Reds were able to snag away a potential future Hall of Famer (*fingers crossed*) in hopes to bolster their outfield.
Cincinnati has an eclectic mix of outfielders that makes the addition of Edmonds all the more interesting. Jonny Gomes actually has a wOBA of .335, but his below average defense (-10.0 UZR, -10 DRS, generally poor scouting reports) and inability to play centerfield hurts his value tremendously. Second in wOBA is Laynce Nix, who, at .328 (100 wRC+), will probably see time reduced due to this trade. Last is Jay Bruce, whom R.J. Anderson wrote about at length a few weeks ago. Bruce is just at a .322 wOBA, and has never cracked the .330 wOBA mark throughout his three-year major league career. The best Reds outfielder this season has been rookie Chris Heisey, who has put up a .397 wIBA (147 wRC+) while playing solid defense. His bat is real, and hopefully Edmonds doesn’t cut into his playing time significantly. Drew Stubbs has played a bunch of centerfield this season, but his modest .316 wOBA doesn’t impress ZiPS; it projects him for .302 from here on out.
Meanwhile, Jim Edmonds is having a fantastic year all around. He’s played great defense in both center and right field, as well as shown his ability to play first base (although I doubt Joey Votto has anything to worry about). His .369 wOBA is generated by a .286/.350/.493 slash line, his highest slugging since 2005. However, he is walking at just 8.5%, but this may be due to pitchers being reluctant to pitch around him early on given that he missed the entire 2009 season. His walk rate has steadied around ~9.7% over the past two months, which is closer (but still significantly far away) from his career average of 12.5%. Edmonds is hitting right-handed pitchers this year to the tune of a .373 wOBA, but his peripherals all show an ability to hit lefties extremely well; most of the difference in production between facing righties and lefties has been due to an inflated BABIP versus righties. His .344 overall BABIP is well above his career average, especially his last few seasons. However, his LD rate is at an absurdly high 28.5%, a number that may be due slightly to scoring bias, but either way will probably regress. Still, even a regressed/adjusted LD rate will be generally favorable. Either way, the ZiPS projection likes Edmonds for a .340 wOBA going forward.
Going to Milwaukee in the deal is outfielder Chris Dickerson, who is a real nice grab for the Brewers for a few months of Jim Edmonds. Dickerson put up 3.2 WAR in 128 games from 2008-09, playing good defense in centerfield with an ability to play the corners well also. However, after a .339 wOBA last year, Dickerson struggled mightily in 2010 with a .205/.222/.273 line. Since being sent to Triple-A Louisville, Dickerson has raked; he’s hitting .442/.528/.767 in fifty-five plate appearances. Dickerson has MLB-ready talent both at the plate and in the field. He’ll have opportunities to teach his old team a lesson in the NL Central. ZiPS thinks he’s good for a .322 wOBA for the rest of the season, and at twenty-eight years old could be close to his offensive peak.
Overall, this wasn’t that poor of a trade for either team, although Cincinnati may have slightly overpaid for an outfielder who could see serious regression while giving up a much younger outfielder who could be useful in the future, maybe even now. They’re clearly going all out in the NL Central race, which they should, but I wonder if this move was necessary for them, or if the asking price for Edmonds was really as high as Dickerson. Milwaukee comes away with a big plus, acquiring a solid outfielder just because they offered a Spring Training invite to an older outfielder who hadn’t played pro ball in over a year.
Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat