First Pitch: Would Adam Lind Be a Good Trade Target For the Pirates?

Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates were connected to every first base option that might have been available, regardless of whether the players were actually available or not. One of the connections was Adam Lind, with the Pirates reportedly asking Toronto about him, and the Blue Jays also reportedly asking for Neil Walker in return.

The rumor mill last year said that the Blue Jays would consider moving Lind, but that they were intending to keep him on the roster. Obviously that’s what they did. As for the talks between the Pirates and Blue Jays, that could have been as simple as the Pirates asking if he really was available, and Toronto throwing out a hypothetical deal in which they’d move him.

This time around, it seems Toronto is more likely to deal Lind. He’s back on “the trade block” in the early off-season rumors, only this time it seems the Blue Jays are actually willing to part with him. That theory strengthened today when they claimed Justin Smoak off waivers. Smoak has a $3.65 M option with a $150 K buyout. The Blue Jays could decline that, then offer him arbitration, which would give him a small raise over his 2014 contract of $2.6375 M. That would be considerably less than the $7.5 M option for Lind, who also has an $8 M option in 2016, and $1.5 M guaranteed if he’s not dealt and his option is declined.

Lind is coming off a year where he was injured for about two months out of the season, and relegated to being a strict platoon player. He was exceptional in the role when healthy, putting up monster offensive numbers. His defense struggled, and in total he had a 1.6 WAR in just over 300 plate appearances. The platoon worked for him, as he posted a .942 OPS against right-handers. In his career, he has an .860 OPS against right-handers and a .588 OPS against lefties.

The Pirates currently have a decision to make between Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez. Both players are under team control for the next two seasons, just like Lind. The difference is that Alvarez and Davis are arbitration eligible. Alvarez is estimated to make $5.5 M, while Davis is estimated at $4.4 M. So would it make sense to try and get Lind, while parting ways with Davis and Alvarez?

Lind would be more expensive than Alvarez and Davis. If the alternative is Alvarez, then the Pirates would be spending an extra $2 M on Lind. The numbers might be closer to even in 2016, depending on the type of year Alvarez has, and what he’ll end up making in arbitration. But what would the Pirates get with the extra money?

There’s no guarantee that Lind would continue his career trends, or his 2014 numbers. However, he has been a much better hitter than Alvarez and Davis. Both of those guys are coming off bad years, although the career numbers don’t touch Lind. Here are the comparisons versus right-handers.

Lind: .860 OPS, 2834 PA

Alvarez: .792 OPS, 1735 PA

Davis: .813 OPS, 1663 PA

The numbers have clearly been better for Lind. The downside for him is his defense and his health. Defense wouldn’t be as big of an issue in this case. He rated the same as Davis, and while Alvarez hasn’t had enough time to establish himself defensively at first base, it’s unlikely that he’ll provide positive value at the position. The bigger concern is Lind’s age. Alvarez will be 27 next year and Davis will be 28. Lind will be 31, turning 32 during the middle of the season. He has dealt with back injuries, costing him half a month in 2011, a month in 2012, and almost a month in 2014. He also fractured his foot in 2014, missing another month.

It seems likely that you’re only getting Lind for five months out of the year, and maybe less. Even if he keeps hitting, that would impact his value. To illustrate this, look at the difference in playing time between Davis and Lind. Davis was a platoon player all year and had about 100 plate appearances more than Lind. He also had replacement level production. So what happens when you replace Lind for 1-2 months with a replacement level player? The career numbers go from an .860 OPS to an .826 OPS. When you consider the career numbers for Alvarez and Davis, then that offensive improvement doesn’t necessarily warrant a trade for Lind, plus the extra money.

If Lind cost very little, it might be a different story. If the Pirates could get a decent return for Alvarez and Davis, then that would also help. But that seems like a dream scenario where you get a potentially better player, then deal two players who are worse and have the deals wash each other out. When I first looked at Lind, and first considered the idea of the Pirates adding him, I was for it. His career numbers are superior to Alvarez and Davis, and his 2014 season was amazing against right-handers. But you’re not getting Lind for the full season, and those monster numbers in 2014 can’t be relied on to repeat in 2015. The career numbers would be more likely, and when you deduct the time Lind projects to miss, you see that he would be a marginal upgrade who would cost several million more, along with prospects or players going the other way in a trade.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**AFL: Thomas Harlan Strikes Out Seven, Two Hits For Elias Diaz in Loss

**Joely Rodriguez Named AFL Pitcher of the Week

**A Look at What Free Agency Could Bring For Russell Martin and Edinson Volquez

**Update on Alen Hanson’s Hand Injury Doesn’t Sound Good

**AFL: Should Josh Bell’s Lack of Power Worry Pirates Fans?

**Josh Bell and Elias Diaz Named to AFL Fall-Stars Game

  • Lind can hit RHPs. But he cannot field his position, he cannot run, and he cannot hit LHPs, so he is not a rare commodity in baseball. He is no more valuable than Davis or Alvarez, and there are plenty of hitters just like him.

  • lonleylibertarian
    November 1, 2014 4:44 pm

    I consider it good news that the Brewers took him off the table 😉
    Now watch him have a 30+ HR and 100+ RBI year…

  • lonleylibertarian
    October 31, 2014 9:13 am

    I have no idea why Snider was not given a first baseman’s glove LAST spring training when it was clear the Polanco would be arriving in 2014 – he seems to be a decent athlete – and his stats would be an improvement over Davis. He is less expensive than Pedro and he is a year younger. When one looks at Lind it is important to remember he had 1 nice seasons, 5 years ago – sort of like Ike Davis getting valued for his one good year, In his age 25, 26 & 27 seasons he showed some power with 84 HRs in 1655 ABs – a home run every 20 at bats. Since then he has 1076 ABs in his age 28, 29 and 30 seasons – essentially missing a full years worth of ABs and his HR rate is no 1/27 ABs. For comparison, Snider averaged one HR every 22 at bats from June through the end of the year – and at age 26 next year there is a reasonable chance that this rate would stay the some or increase – does anyone think Lind will see a return of his power as he turns 31.

  • Anyone else ever link back to some of the old articles that appear with new posts? I guess since this is linked to Toronto, one of the featured links was from late 2010, suggesting Pirates were going aggressively after Jeremy Accardo.

    Good thing that never came to pass, eh?

  • Don’t ask me why as there is no supporting evidence to suggest an improvement, but I like Chris Valaika as a potential utility guy for 2015. His best positions are 2b and 1b, although he’s also subbed at ss, 3b and corner OF spots. He Ks too much, has a high DP/PA ratio and hasn’t shown a ton of pop. But there’s something in the way he plays that I like… and just feel he’s one of those guys who could pop if given more playing time.

  • If they can’t get anybody good at least get somebody likeable.
    I find it hard to really get mad at somebody I like.
    I never really got angry at Garrett Jones even when he was sucking.
    Now Pedro…. I’ve ground down two sets of false teeth to powder just watching him stroll back to the dugout after another fruitless at bat. :):):)

  • Rather than look this from from a who plays first base, I’d like to know who hits fourth on this team. We all know Alvarez hits better lower in the order. We need a LH bat who can hit in the 4 hole. I would love for it to be Polanco, but I don’t think he is ready yet. LaRoche is better hitting lower in the order. Maybe Lind is that guy? We need Adrian Gonzalez. Is he available? 🙂

  • I think they need to move Pete over full time and dump the platoon completely. He had an off year, during which he was often injured. He has the most upside of any of the hitters we are talking about and could be a plus defender at 1B. If Lind is the option we have to expect the Jays will want a frontline player for him. Now we go back to the “would you trade Starling Marte” kind of discussions. I don’t think I would trade Alvarez straight up for Lind. He’s the kind of guy who could go full-on MVP slugger overnight. If you trade Ike (probably get the same kind of return we gave up- basically a gifted second rounder), cut Gabe and let Lambo caddy 1B (basically be a PH so I don’t care if he’s a lefty) you net $3-$4 million to sign a dozen internationals or add to the Martin pot. That’s what I do.

  • The injury history would be of some concern, but not the age. Lind would be two months past his 33rd birthday when his contract ends…not peak years, but still productive.

    Not sure who’s correct, Tim or Baseball Reference, but they have Alvarez at 27 now and 28 before spring training kicks off. Either way, five years down the road, of course you’d Alvarez’s production over Lind’s…But Pedro won’t be in Pittsburgh in five years.

    The worst part of all this is being stuck in a position of selling low on Alvarez or hoping he’ll rebound…which would guarantee his departure in FA after ’16.

  • Lets see, we have Lambo, Davis, Alvarez, Sanchez, Sanchez, right now we have five and we could convert Walker or Snyder to first base. These are the options or we could leave Walker and Snyder alone and trade all the rest and get one good all around first baseman. I would make the trades and go after one good first baseman and that one would not be Lind, we clearly have enough part time players. The Pirates have not had a top 1st baseman in 20 years, unless you call Kevin Young a top 1st basemen. IMO, to get a top 1st baseman it is going to take a blockbuster trade.

  • No thank you – just another less than adequate first baseman – I think we already have 2-3 of them. Now, if they will take Morton and Ike Davis in a trade for Lind, I would consider it….

  • I actually like the idea of acquiring Lind, in spite of his health woes and defensive issues. Of course this would be greatly dependent upon the asking price

  • I don’t know if I’d say that Lind is a better hitter than Ike and Pedro–worlds more consistent, for sure, but he doesn’t walk much to speak of, and his slugging percentages have almost always been short of .500, so he has power but not POWER. Given his back issues, I’m not sure how interested the Pirates should be–if the Jays are bound and determined to get rid of him and are willing to be very flexible on the return, I guess you listen, but I think the asking price has to come down a whole lot from last year’s Neil Walker gambit.

    • Just an FYI, Pedro has never had a SLG% of .500+ either with his career high being .473 when he hit 36 HRs in 2013.

      The biggest difference is that you get a guy who strikes out a lot less, walks a lot more and has comparable power.

      • Actually, Pedor’s career BB% is higher than Lind’s. I think the biggest difference is Lind’s injury history which, given his salary, is a real concern.

  • Joe Sweetnich
    October 29, 2014 7:39 am

    The Pirates organization, being as structured and saber inclined as they are, will never trade for a 31/32 year old who has an inclination for getting hurt. Especially in a the post PED era.

  • Scott Kliesen
    October 29, 2014 5:34 am

    Lind looks like a better fit for an AL team where he can DH. Playing in Pitt 5 days/week w a chronic bad back, at an age where the body just doesn’t hold up or recover as well as it used to, makes zero senses to me.

    • SK: Me too. I saw that about Lind and wondered what it was that he could bring – HR’s down to 6 last year in a bandbox, and his D was a -14.3 UZR/150. I still prefer unloading both Davis and Sanchez, and move Neil Walker in there and work Pedro in at 1B also. When Walker is at 1B, JHAY is at 2B, When Pedro is at 1B, JHAY is at 3B with Walker at 2B. I prefer Neil Walker at 1B and this also gives us another chance to allow Pedro to build up some value. I think he would be a much better fit in the AL, and maybe as a return to his hometown of NY, but he has to be in the lineup producing or he will give us no chance to get a quality return for his services.

    • Then they might as well trade Walker too right now because that is the same exact case that can be made against him.

      • thats the trap you get with some success… you’re always looking to fix something that ain’t broke. Heck, Edinson could just as well been the guy thowing magic in the wild card and we could be playing the Royals tonight for all the marbles. I don’t see the scary Dodgers or Angels or Nats in the Series. Teams that go to the playoffs all the time win. Teams that build for one playoff run watch the TV most Octobers. (yeah, the Royals kinda got lucky but I certainly don’t think they are any better than us).

      • Scott Kliesen
        October 29, 2014 5:13 pm

        Walker is several years younger.

  • I’ll stick with my original idea. Get rid of all 3 1st baseman and use that money to get an every day guy that will be around till Bell is ready.
    LeRoche fits that bill, I;m sure there are others. I don’t understand the fixation with the platoon. Nor do I understand the fixation with Pedro either. Yes I know he hits HR’s. But he also strands tons of guys, kills innings and has regressed in the field. Waiting for his trade value rise may very well come at the expense of winning games. Back in the bad old days that might not have mattered. When your expecting to compete for a division it does. Time to move away from the platoon and solve the problem.

  • they could also pick up some tab on Buerle — — — Toro, Bell, Tabata for $$$, Buerle and Lind sounds good to me

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