This is going to be quick, as I have a lot of work to do. Still, I think it is worth a mention.
In the offseason between 2004 and 2005, the Marlins made the biggest free agent splash they had ever considered, signing free agent first baseman Carlos Delgado to a four-year deal worth $52M. I was ecstatic when I first heard the news, only to years later find out that it seemed obvious the Marlins had a contingency plan in mind in case a fire sale had to be made. It turns out the team backloaded that $13M annual salary for the end of the deal, resulting in the Marlins only paying $4M for what FanGraphs calls a 4 WAR season.
Years later, it is 2010 (now) and Delgado is back on the market and struggling to find a place to land. It seems the New York Mets are out of the picture given their recent resigning of Fernando Tatis and the probable idea that Daniel Murphy will stick at first (doubtful, but crazier things have happened I suppose). Delgado is available again with few suitors remaining for his services. Should the Marlins consider the former MVP candidate for a return to South Florida?
Delgado had an injury-shortened 2009 campaign, sidelined for all but 112 PA due to an injured hip. Prior to that, he was hitting pretty well, but with his advanced age and the increased injury worry, the projections of his hitting have been tempered. CHONE seems the most pessimistic, calling for a .247/.322/.449 campaign, good for a meager .337 wOBA. Now, I’m not so sure that that’s our best guess on the matter, and I’d point to the Fans’ thoughts of a .268/.350/.489 campaing, complete with a .355 wOBA, as just as likely. Let’s take the middle range, a .346 wOBA. CHONE projects an essentially average defensive player (I believe it’s close to -1 runs per 150 games), and I’d say it would be safe to expect about 110 games tops for an aging, injured player like Delgado. Let’s call it 1.2 WAR in that case, essentially the same as CHONE’s projected 1.1 WAR.
Would that 1.1 WAR help? I’d probably say no. If Delgado is indeed shot due to age and injury, the team should have business signing him up for significant playing time. But can the club leverage Delgado and get him at a cheap enough price? If so, it may be worth a look. The club right now is looking like it will start the season with Gaby Sanchez at first base. CHONE has him projected at 0.7 WAR, but the calculations are odd given the games played at first are counted in full while the PA do not appear to align with 117 games of full time play. Give him playing time closer to the 110 games and 450 PA we saw in Delgado and you get a projection of almost 1.1 WAR.
Now, this should probably assume an even distribution of lefty and righty pitchers faced. Platoon the two players, however, and we could expect to see an increase in their offensive values. How much? There’s no telling of course, given the inability to determine how often they’ll face the platoon advantage, but if we can keep Delgado away from lefties and start him less often than in a regular platoon (essentially play Gaby versus righties two out of every three opportunities instead of not at all), we may be able to eke 70 or so games and 250 PA of an efficient Delgado, and it could up the projection by about three runs (just a guess, no math involved there).
Would that help? Yeah. How much does it cost? Nowhere close to $2M. And there’s your price range for a move like that. If the Marlins have to pay more than $1M for a signing like this, they had best bank the money and find some lefty outfielder who can play (Endy Chavez, folks, come on! I know he can’t hit, but he can replace Cody Ross in the outfield late!). At this point, because the starting lineup is set, any move would have to be close to the minimum to be considered.