Saturday, August 17, 2013

Trade Target - Ryan Roberts

So, back to normal.  By the time this blog post is published, Atlanta probably has had six more injuries to their second baseman depth.  Mark Lemke has grabbed a glove. Jeff Treadway is sitting by his phone.  Keith Lockhart is ready to pop out behind third base in foul territory.

Naturally, the Braves enter the weekend with an eye on anyone who is available and competent enough to play second base.  Placido Polanco is around, but has played 83 innings at second base since the beginning of 2010.  Brendan Ryan has passed waivers, but are the Braves that desperate over simply starting Paul Janish?  Of course, the Braves could simply just stick with Janish/Phil Gosselin until Dan Uggla returns, but how much concern is there that Uggla's pending return in a few weeks is optimistic?  Doesn't seem to be any and LASIK is super common nowadays.  But just the same, lazers and stuff.

Regardless, Atlanta has to be interested in an acquisition from outside the organization.  Probably their best option is Ryan Roberts, who was designated for assignment by the Rays on Thursday.  Roberts is owed roughly $725,000 for the rest of the season, his second year of arbitration.  Known commonly as TatMan, Roberts became a regular fixture on Baseball Tonight during his 2011 run with the Diamondbacks.  He slashed .249/.341/.427 with 19 homers and 18 steals while playing mostly third base.  His numbers tapered off the following season and he was traded before the deadline last year to the Rays for a minor leaguer.

With the Rays, Roberts has played mostly second with some starts at third mixed in.  However, he only OPS'd .658 in Tampa, failing to recapture his glory of 2011.  Roberts clearly is not a tremendous player.  He maxed out as a 108 wRC+ with 3.6 WAR.  What's his value to the Braves?

Beyond the fact he should be cheap if he passes waivers, Roberts provides plus defense (historically, at least) at both second and third.  He also has some recent playing time at first.  Both this year and over his career, Roberts has been much better against lefties.  He's also shown a solid bat off the bench with a career .269 average as a pinch hitter.  Like Evan Gattis, he is probably better when the manager can pick the time to use him.

If the Braves are to make a move before the return of Uggla, acquiring Roberts seems like the best bet of the supposedly available players on the market.  Roberts would likely be non-tendered so the Braves couldn't surrender much for him.  Still, for the rest of the season, Roberts could be a nice bench piece and give the Braves depth for the playoff roster.

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