It’s no secret that the Braves don’t want Marcus Giles around anymore. You’d think it would be difficult to know this considering the team “never comments on potential player moves.” The team has been trying to move him since the season ended, and probably some before that. However, the team have not found any suitable deals. The word is that if the Braves can’t make a deal today, he will be non-tendered. This is interesting, because though Marcus Giles isn’t the world’s greatest second baseman, he’s an average major league hitter. This guy has value, so why doesn’t anyone want him?
In his four full seasons as the Braves starting second baseman, he’s posted OPS of .911, .821, .826, and .728. From those numbers, it looks like Giles is a low-.800 OPS player with a good year and a bad year. But, as I pointed out earlier this year, Giles has been one of the luckiest players in baseball. Here are his PrOPS by year and his difference from his actual OPS (OPS-PrOPS).
2003: .825, +.086
2004: .774, +.047
2005: .766, +.060
2006: .766, -.037
Now, it looks like Giles is a .770 OPS player, which is about the NL average. We knew 2003 was a fluke, but so were 2004 and 2005. But still, he has a good defensive reputation and he’s not embarrassing himself with his bat. What’s the deal?
It’s not that no one wants him, but that the Braves are in an awkward position. He’s entering his final year of arbitration and he projects to garner a salary of about $6 million. Because his stats have been over-measuring his true ability, he’s been getting bigger arbitration raises than he otherwise would have for the past two years. I estimate Giles dollar value to the Braves in 2006 to be $5.55 million (slightly more than Jeff Francoeur‘s value—where’s Marcus’s Delta commercial?). Using his PrOPS projection, he was expected to have generated about $5.9 million. This means that the projected $6 million he’ll likely get in arbitration is almost exactly what he is worth.
I think this explains what the Braves are having so much trouble moving him. Let’s pretend that Giles is a $10 million player. The team that acquires him will have to pay Giles $6 million. This means that a team wanting to acquire him would be willing to trade $4 million in assets to acquire Giles; and in return, the Braves would receive $10 million in return ($6 million freed up from not having to play Giles + $4 million in other assets). But, Giles’s value is equal to his salary. There is very little that a team would be willing give up beyond $6 million to get Giles—we’re talking a low-A weak prospect. Scott Linebrink was never an option. This is why the Braves can’t find any takers. When a player signed to an over-paying long-term contract a team will often have to pay part of the the traded player’s salary. But, in this case, the cash-strapped Braves can get his salary off the books by simply declining to offer him arbitration.
Any team that wants him will just wait until he hits the free agent market, which is exactly what will happen. San Diego can have Linebrink and Giles if they want to spend the money. I’m going to miss Marcus, because I liked watching him play. But Giles fans, don’t you worry, he will find a home very soon. And the reason that the Braves aren’t keeping him isn’t that he lacks value, but that the difference in his salary and his value is so small that it’s hard to find just the right deal. I expect he’ll sign a deal between $6-8 million in the very near future.