Each day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days after the World Series’ conclusion. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with outfielder Nate McLouth. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink above.
When I think of Nate McLouth, he will forever be linked to his wonderful breakout 2007 campaign which led me to a fantasy baseball title, hitting 13 HR and stealing 22 bases. 2008 brought improvements to all three triple-slash categories (.276/.356/.497) with 26 HR and 23 steals. Midway through the 2009 campaign, McLouth was traded to the Braves. Through injuries and the emergence of Jason Heyward, McLouth was reduced to the playing time of a part-time player. McLouth hit just .229/.335/.364 as a Brave before becoming a free agent after the 2011 season.
McLouth signed a one-year pact to return to the Pirates for 2012. McLouth would get off to a rough start, hitting just .140/.210/.175 before being traded to the in-contention Baltimore Orioles. McLouth would flourish in Baltimore, hitting 7 homers and stealing 12 bags in 236 PA after the trade. McLouth would re-up with the Orioles for 2013 on a one-year, $2 million deal, one of the better bargains of the offseason, and hit .258/.329/.399 with 12 HR and 30 steals in 37 chances. Throughout his career, McLouth has been a negative defender, ranking 459 out of 494 outfielders in UZR from 2007 through 2013.
McLouth hits lefty and succeeds, like most lefties, against righties. 81 out of his 100 career homers are against righties and his platoon split is about 40 points in both batting average and on-base percentage. Because of his lack of success against lefties, he would compound the lefty-heavy batting order the Phillies currently have. For the right price, he would be an excellent pinch-hitting, pinch-running bench option.
According to the awesome FanGraphs crowd-sourcing project, McLouth is likely in line for somewhere between $5-6 million per year for between two and three years.
McLouth would absolutely fit into the Phillies budget for 2014 and will likely be a value play for whichever team does sign him. According to FanGraphs, McLouth’s play was worth about $12.6 million last year and, on a $5 million AAV deal, he would only need to be worth about one win to be worth a team’s while to sign.
This verdict may surprise you. I love McLouth as a value pick up at $5 or even $6 million a year, however, I just don’t see how he improves the Phillies long term. $5 million to McLouth paired with a savings by avoiding another moderately paid free agent could get you a better overall player which can help long term.