Picking up Aviles’ option goes beyond the numbers
Aviles’ value to Cleveland comes from his versatility, not just his numbers
Strictly based on the numbers, Cleveland exercising utility man Mike Aviles’ $3.5 million option for 2015 makes no sense.
Going beyond the surface numbers, however, shows why the move is defensible.
No one will ever confuse Aviles with an impact player. His offense over the past three seasons has been remarkably consistent, with the 33-year-old posting the following lines:
- 2012: .250/.282/.381 line, 75 wRC+
- 2013: .252/.282/.368 line, 79 wRC+
- 2014: .247/.273/.343 line, 74 wRC+
What we have here is a player who is consistently below-average and adds next to nothing from his bat. Even giving Aviles credit for being able to play shortstop -- a position that does not require as much offense -- does not bail him out.
Major league shortstops posted a .251/.306/.363 line and 87 wRC+ in 2014, marks that still leave Aviles decidedly below-average offensively. Plus, Aviles is not a full-time shortstop, spending only 15 games there in 2014. Aviles’ other positions he played more frequently have higher thresholds for offensive success, driving the utility man’s value even farther down.
That value bottoms out around replacement level, with Fangraphs rating him out at exactly 0.0 WAR in his two seasons in Cleveland (Baseball-Reference is slightly kinder, scoring him at 0.6 WAR). The definition of a replacement level player is one that can be had for next-to-no cost, and given that Aviles has essentially played at that level, the idea of paying him $3.5 million for something a decent Triple-A player could feasibly replicate seems nonsensical.
But that is where going beyond Aviles’ raw WAR total can make sense of picking up his option. Aviles may not hit much or have an Andrelton Simmons-like reputation in the field, but he adds hidden value in another way.
Aviles’ real value to Cleveland is his insane versatility. Just last season alone, Aviles logged time at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field, and right field; also known as every non-pitcher position but catcher and first base. While Aviles does not stand out statistically, filling almost every hole a major league team could have is definitely useful.
Let’s break things down hypothetically position-by-position (or at least the positions Aviles can fill). Using each non-Aviles player’s 2014 games played total, here is what we have:
- Second base: Jason Kipnis (129 games)
- Shortstop: Pre-trade Asdrubal Cabrera (97 games), Post-Cabrera-trade Jose Ramirez (50 games)
- Third base: Lonnie Chisenhall (142 games)
- Center field: Michael Bourn (106 games), Michael Brantley (56 games)
- Left field: Brantley (100 games)
- Right field: David Murphy (129 games)
That leaves the holes as follows:
- 33 games at second base
- 15 games at shortstop
- 20 games at third base
- 62 games at left field
- 33 games at right field
Those numbers add up to 163 games, only one game more than a full season’s worth of games. Cleveland would never play Aviles 62 games in left field and 33 games in right field, but if the organization was only allowed one bench player for each of these positions, the utility man would be able to fill them all (except for one game).
Of course, no team would only have one bench player for all of these positions, allowing Aviles to not spend over half of a season in the outfield. But that very practical flexibility is where Aviles’ value shines through.
Aviles’ ability to play all over the place allows Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti some wiggle room with the roster. Whether it is keeping a position-less player like Jason Giambi around all season like in 2013, carrying an eighth reliever as Francona likes to have, or just having an extra spot to play with, Aviles is the one that lets it happen.
So while Aviles does not rate out well in WAR, his value does not come from what he does at the plate or in the field; his value is buried in his ability to give Cleveland roster flexibility and a mega-utility player.
Cleveland could replace Aviles in time with someone like Ramirez (who spent some time in center field while in Columbus this season), but there is no obvious replacement on the roster right now. Plus, not many young players are looking to become utility players without an everyday job. There is no metric for clubhouse presence, but Aviles’ willingness to fill this role is definitely an indicator that the utility man is a good guy to have in the locker room.
He may not be worth it based on WAR, but given $3.5 million is next-to-nothing in today’s game (that is only about four percent of Cleveland’s projected payroll) and what Aviles can do with his flexibility, it is not a shock he is coming back in 2015. More and more we are seeing the importance of roster depth and Aviles has it in spades.
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So Swisher for Giancarlo Stanton is also a no go? Reality sucks.
Still don't think Swisher will be able to play and insurance policy on Swisher should handle his salary promised, Still think he should be new hitting coach.
Trevor Bauer grew this season and I hope we retain him since he will only get better. Don't pull a dump move like last year with Kasmir, who had a great season with Oakland.
Go Tribe. Trade Bourn for Carlos Gonzalez and sign and Adrian Beltre for DH.
I don't think they would have made the playoffs without his contribution. He's pitched pathetic in the playoffs, no doubt. Don't miss my point, the Royals made a big trade to acq. talent using prospects / farm depth to make the move. It has paid off for them in a WS appearance. When/if Sheilds leaves they have Wade Davis remaining as a consultation prize and a first rd PK to convey into another useful piece (ie: Finnegan). My point, they are a solid model / similar situation to the Tribe. The Tribe has a young core, farm depth (FINALLY), and the ability to add a cpl 'safe' FA's. They could use the same model as the Royals and draft a qk moving arm to supplement the bullpen with one (or both) of their two draft pks in 2015.
Remember that that's how you and I got to this point, I made a comment that justifies a man's salary through sabermetrics since the author said that you couldn't do it stats-wise. Your response was "Hey Disco, why dont you put the Sabermetric calculator down brother???" If you're against the changing game or enlightening yourself as to how the baseball world works now, then go ahead and bury your head in the sand. No one forces you to read comments, no one even asks you to either. But don't knock advanced thinking because it's beyond you and so therefor it must be silly or useless. Or maybe you should take the time to learn about the numbers, why they work, what they are used for, and understand that they're not scary, they're not taking away from the game that you love, they just give a more detailed account of what happened or offer better predictive value than older stats ever did.
"his experience and professionalism." :VOMIT: Who cares about this if he is a bum? I dont care about professionalism and his so called experience. I have experience of watching him the past 2 seasons and wanted to pull my hair out at times.
Sure he might of have had some impact of them getting to the playoffs, but what good is he if does crappy in the playoffs and pitches poorly in the WS and costs them games they needed to win. What good is he if they lose to Giants and then bounces in free agency?
So i love to be miserable because I want to make the playoffs every year and have exciting baseball? I love to be miserable because I dont sip Shapanetti's kool aid and dont worship the ground they step on? I love to be miserable because I see through the bull crap that this joke of a front office is all about? Have fun with your 85 win team that has an empty stadium the majority of a time.
Plus Disco I am glad you left CLEVELAND, we dont need you.
And if Joseph really thinks that we need a 30+ HR hitter in the middle of the lineup, perhaps we should again address the issue of the current postseason. No one on the Cardinals hit more than 21 HR's. No one on the Royals hit more than 19! Not a single Athletic hit 30 and only two of them hit more than 20. No Giants hitter hit more than 22. None of the Dodgers topped 27 HR's, and only two hit more than 20. Think Nick Swisher being healthy doesn't matter? He's never hit below 15% above league average from 2006-2013, so that argument really isn't valid.
Then again, most of the arguments claiming that one player sucks or that the team sucks really aren't valid. If you're not happy routing for the Tribe, go elsewhere.
Its his versatility, combined with his experience and professionalism, that keeps Aviles on this team, for the time being anyway. The kids are getting closer, but they're not quite ready, and when they are, and if they are successful, Aviles will be no longer needed. But for now, he brings solid value to this team and I am fine with this signing.
Clearly, the relatively small amount that people are getting so worked up about is not going to be the difference between success and failure in 2015. That is, there are MUCH bigger salary and roster issues/challenges to work through than Aviles and his $3.5m.
How would they have made there without him?
That said, Aviles is probably out in May / June when Lindor and Aviles are promoted.
It is also important to not that he is a BENCH player. If he were good he'd be a starter.
The other important thing to note is that while the Indians can surely sign a guy for league min to do what Aviles can do, it is not so easy to find. The failure rate on minor league deals and finding guys with the right experience, temperament, and ability to be in such a role is not as easy as people make it out to be. Aviles is a known quantity. They know what they will get and how he fits into things. Any minor league deal for a similar player brings huge questions if he can excel in such a role and how he fits on the team....and even if he can play in the bigs.
They didnt make the playoffs back then and they aren't making the playoffs now. Really no difference to me. Like i said, I think it's a JOKE that ANYONE would be happy with a winning season and not making the playoffs. Once again, most of you on here are Shapanetti sheep/worshipers. You all are sacrificial lambs.
So you rather enjoy year after year of losing during the 60-'s, 70's and 80's and early 90's. than having back to back winning seasons.
"With a little bit of good luck and good health." LOL at "good luck." What are you going to do you jabrone? Go to opening day with a batch of 4 leaf clovers and horse shoes? Maybe with a little of bit of good luck i'll hit the mega millions next week?
Who cares about back to back winning seasons if you dont make the playoffs?? I know i don't. Are you that content with mediocrity? I dont want to be a fringe WC team, I want to be a team that wins the division every single season and has high 90 wins every season.
You can't blame an FO for luck and I'm not sure when it became cool for fans to hate everything that their teams do, but it's annoying and stupid. Time to catch up with the rest of the world.
Yeah, because this "modern front office" has brought us a lot huh??
$3.5M is a drop in the hat, and when you figure we'd have to pay someone else around $600k plus the $250k buyout that Aviles would have gotten, the savings is a paltry $2.650M. To waste this much internet ink on something as crazy as keeping or jettisoning Aviles is nuts.
Aviles is the cost of keeping Francona happy. Is everyone ready to bring back Wedgie or Acta? Because if Francona doesn't stay happy, that's what we are destined for again! I don't want that, nor should anyone else.
When Lindor comes up, Aviles is probably gone anyway, so just deal with him until that point. Every year we see big market teams lose their starting SS or second baseman, and need someone to plug in there. Once Lindor is around we can trade Aviles and his paltry salary to them for a bag of balls.
Getting upset of $2.6M in MLB is stupid and a waste of time. If the front office was considering making a big splash (which, for the record IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!), $2.6M is not going to make the difference. Enough of this craziness over Mike Aviles.
2013 with runners in scoring position/runners on he batted .232
This guy sucks. What do people see in him??