Last night, I stepped away from my computer for an hour. When I returned, the Mets had made a flurry of moves, including signing reliever Jon Rauch and closer Frank Francisco. But the Mets also parted with a player, dealing away Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez. While Ramirez is probably the more important part of that deal, acquiring Torres and booting Pagan has important implications as well.
Much of the chatter in the blogosphere and on Twitter last night involved the similarities between Pagan and Torres. Specifically, the two outfielders both had very productive 2010 seasons, followed by letdowns in 2011. But just how similar are Pagan and Torres? First, here is a look at both of their breakout seasons from 2010 (UZR is across all three outfield positions):
2010 was a great year for both Pagan and Torres. Both played great outfield defense, were above average offensive contributors and added some speed to the game. Pagan hit for more contact while Torres hit for a little more power, and probably as a result struck out more (although he also walked at a higher rate). Next, here are their numbers from 2011:
Pagan and Torres both experienced steep drop-offs from 2010. Each one reached base at a significantly lower rate, the power declined and offensive production was below average (although both of their walk rates increased). Torres’ offensive decline was steeper than Pagan’s, but Angel also had a very rough year defensively, whereas Torres was still a positive contributor roaming the outfield. Finally, here are the career Major League numbers for the two outfielders:
So for his career, Pagan has been the more successful player from an offensive standpoint, sporting a better slash line. However, it is important to remember that Torres didn’t play in a Major League game between 2006 and 2008, with a relatively brief stint (170 PA) in 2009. Apparently all that time in the minors helped, because from 2009-11, Torres batting line was .252/.332/.436. Torres also boasts a higher walk rate (which is important since he will likely bat leadoff) and has played significantly better defense across all three outfield positions during his career. Although Torres hit for more power in 2010, I wouldn’t bank on him slugging higher than Pagan in the future.
Both the Mets and Giants are banking on their newly acquired outfielders to return to their 2010 form. In reality though, the center fielder-swap wasn’t a real upgrade for either team (based on fWAR, in fact the two players have posted nearly identical contributions during their respective careers). Given that both Pagan and Torres are in their thirties (Angel is 30, Andres will be 34 in January), neither player has upside or is a long term solution. In terms of the Mets, it seemed l like Alderson and company were tired with Pagan’s lack of effort and ability to draw walks, so he got the boot. Torres will probably walk more than Pagan and should play better defense (which in Citi Field is quite valuable), but his 2012 offensive stats will likely fall somewhere in between those from 2010 and 2011.
Alderson made it clear he was after bullpen help, and acquiring Ramirez in this this trade, along with the two other signings, significantly bolstered the relief corps. In Torres, the Mets obtained a defensive minded center fielder who will hold down the fort until someone from the farm system (Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt Den Dekker or dare I say Brandon Nimmo) is ready to step up, which could happen at some point in 2012 depending on how quickly Nieuwenhuis can rehab from shoulder surgery. This deal was really about getting Ramirez and ditching Pagan, and any above average contributions from Torres will just be gravy.
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