The Baltimore Orioles are deep into a rebuild, and apparently they’ve decided to proceed by slashing costs at all … uh … costs, and also aiming to avoid even the tiniest risk of winning games unnecessarily.
To that end, not only can you expect they won’t be spending much, if any, new money this offseason, they’re also reportedly looking to dump arbitration-eligible players like Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Villar, rather than pay a little cost now for the possibility of making a big trade at the deadline next year. Seems a waste of an opportunity, but hey, I guess losing games and cash are king.
The Orioles are working to trade RHP Dylan Bundy, according to a source. No deal is imminent, but one appears to be getting close. The 27-year-old went 7-14 with a 4.79 ERA last season, and he's entering the second of three arbitration-eligible seasons.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 27, 2019
#orioles have put infielder Jonathan Villar on waivers. Been trying to trade him before Monday's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players.
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) November 27, 2019
For our purposes, and as Michael touched on earlier, the question is whether the Cubs would get involved on either player. And whether they should.
I’ll start with Bundy, because he feels like a “yes” on both accounts. A former tip-top prospect whose initial contract out of high school saw him rushed to the big leagues, Bundy has never found the results to match the impressive stuff. (Insert obligatory comparison to Jake Arrieta … though Bundy was a much more highly-regarded prospect, for what that’s worth.) But the stuff – especially the secondaries – is something you dream on if you’re an organization like the Cubs that is hurting for it.
What about the meh results, though? Well, solid strikeout rate and walk rate, but huge run totals. In particular, Bundy has been destroyed by the long ball the last two years, despite a hard contact rate that doesn’t really concern you. The results overall have been mediocre to poor, based on ERA- and FIP-. Some of that was bad luck (his expected wOBA based on quality of contact was 20 points lower than his actual wOBA allowed), but clearly it isn’t all bad luck after four years in the big leagues. He’s a bit of a head-scratcher.
Still, you’re talking about a 27-year-old with the pedigree, a four-pitch mix, and one of the nastiest sliders in the game:
Today's #TheFastPitch could very well be on the move.
Dylan Bundy's –@Dylan_Bundy – SL:
Curious to see what happens if the usage of this reaches Corbin levels pic.twitter.com/rfLoMyPqc0
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) November 27, 2019
I'm extremely interested in Dylan Bundy.
– Slider drops more than 90% compared to all MLB sliders
– Top tier slider whiff rate of ~24%
– Overall whiff rate ~26% (MLB avg 23.5%)
– 27 years old
– 2 years team control
– Good health lately
Make it happen.
— Brendan Miller (@CubsRelated) November 27, 2019
Adding Bundy means taking on his near $6 million projected arbitration salary (and giving up prospects in the process), but you get him for another year after that if things click, and you’re acquiring clear mid-rotation upside. For the Cubs, a team that is not going to spend on this type of pitcher in free agency, it’s probably the right kind of player to take a chance on. Give me all the stuff you can find, Cubs, and see if you can help with the next steps.
As for Villar, 28, I’m slightly less interested. Of course, virtually any team in baseball would like to have him on their roster, in the abstract. He is a switch-hitter, he has fantastic speed, he can play anywhere in the infield, and he is around a league-average overall hitter (he is projected by Steamer to post a .261/.330/.422 line next year, 97 wRC+). Nice player!
But as a starting-caliber player? At the $10-ish million he’ll make in arbitration? I just don’t see it. I don’t see it for the Cubs, and I also don’t really see it for any other team, hence the Orioles’ inability to trade him before placing him on waivers today. Presuming he goes unclaimed, and presuming he doesn’t first agree to a below-projection contract with the Orioles, he’ll become a free agent on Monday at the non-tender deadline. From there, if the Cubs want to look at Villar for their second base mix, and as a back-up for Javy Baez at shortstop? Cool. But on a tight budget, it’s hard to see how it would be the best use of their funds, given a plethora of “yeah, kinda OK, but better as a bench guy” options already available on the roster at second base.
Keep in mind, Villar has the speed of a traditional leadoff man, but he also has an OBP around league average and a strikeout rate well above average. This isn’t a situation where it’s an *obvious* Cubs fit. Instead, it’s a guy who does some things well, and he’s going to soon become available to the entire market.