Domonic Brown is struggling. Struggling mightily, to be exact. The 2013 All-Star has been one of the Major League’s worst baseball players in 2014, hitting .217/.271/.323 with 5 HR. Out of 167 MLB players that would qualify for the batting title if the season ended today, Brown ranks 167th in FanGraphs’ version of WAR, 160th in on base percentage and slugging, and 161st in OPS. Long story short, Brown has been one of the absolute worst players in the Major Leagues, even surprising the crowd that was more bearish on his ceiling to begin with.
Despite his performance and because of his age, Brown likely still has some value. While Brown essentially became an All-Star because of one hot month last season, Brown has power, a strong arm, and slightly-above average speed, definitely enough to be enticing for a team to throw together a trade package. But what exactly could the Phillies get if they chose to trade Brown?
Trade Brown to the Mariners for Dustin Ackley
Manager Lloyd McClendon and second baseman Robinson Cano have the Mariners within 5.5 games of possibly the best team in baseball, the Oakland A’s, and in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card spot. The Mariners have tried a number of outfielders (Logan Morrison, James Jones, Michael Saunders, Stefen Romano, Abraham Almonte, and Ackley all have 75 PA or more in the outfield) but none have an OBP higher than .314. With the outfield a weak spot, the Mariners could be looking for a change of scenery trade of their own.
Why Ackley makes sense is that he is now a man out of position with a pedigree comparable to Brown’s. Originally a second baseman, Ackley burst on to the scene in 2011, hitting .273 with 6 HR and 6 SB, finishing sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting despite having just 376 PA. Ackley was moved all around the diamond last year, prior to Cano arriving, and at worst, could be an above-average utility player. Ackley has great range, ranks second in the AL among left fielders, but possesses a similar line to Brown’s in 2014: .226/.281/.348 with 4 HR for Ackley v. .217/.271/.323 with 5 HR for Brown. Both at age 26, and both having shown promise early in their careers, a cross-country trip for each might do them each a favor.
The Mariners could do this because they would save a pro-rated million dollars through this season and they would likely save money on Brown v. Ackley through the arbitration process.
Trade Brown and Player X for Jackie Bradley Jr.
At just 24 years old, Bradley Jr. is believed to have a particularly high upside but his bat has yet to grow into that upside at the Major League level. Hitting .204/.289/.310 with four homers and seven steals in 364 PA for the Red Sox over this year and last, the Red Sox may be seeking one last punch to get them back into the race. To be fair, this one is highly unlikely: with the Red Sox 8.5 out of first place, they may look like sellers rather than buyers at the deadline but a controllable, cost-efficient outfielder with upside would be one of the last pieces to go, right? That doesn’t mean they don’t have anyone else they may be interested in moving…
Trade Brown for Shane Victorino
Well, this would be interesting. The Phillies would be adding significant payroll (the pro-rate of $12.5 million difference between Brown and Victorino in 2014 and then the difference between the estimated $1.5 million in arbitration Brown would receive v. the $13 million Victorino will make in 2015) but would improve for the duration of the season. At just six games out, Victorino would upgrade a corner outfield spot both offensively and defensively immediately. The two big questions here are: would Victorino be healthy, he is nursing a nagging hamstring injury, and does Ruben Amaro believe the Phillies are close enough to being contenders to merit taking on about $6 million in salary for 2014 and $11.5 million more in 2015?
Those are just some of the change of scenery deals that may work involving Dom Brown. Any thoughts on any additional hypothetical deals below are welcome.