KoK Offseason Proposal 3: Jeremy Hermida

My bulk of my offseason plan for the Royals is very simple. The team needs to acquire young players who are undervalued, have not yet lived up to their potential, or have little chance to receive the playing time they deserve with their current team.   Today’s proposal focuses on 25 year old RF/LF-Jeremy Hermida of the Florida Marlins.

Hermida was once the crown jewel of the Florida Marlins farm system and was ranked as their number 1 prospect by Baseball America in 2004, 2005, and 2006.  He made his ML debut on August 31st, 2005.  Since that time he has played in 516 G and has hit 0.265/.344/.425 to go with an OPS+ of 102.  The last 3 seasons he has posted WARs of 2.7, 0.1, and  0.2.  His UZR/150 while playing RF during the last 3 seasons has been -1.7, -10.5, -4.5.  His TotalZone (TZ)* was 9 in 2007 and 0 in 2008.

*TotalZone as defined on www.baseballprojection.com is:  a measure of defensive range based on analysis of retrosheet play by play data. For seaons before 1953, and the 1953 American League, This measure is based on a much cruder formula called JAARF (Just another adjusted range factor.) which estimates defensive ratings from assists, putouts and errors, as well as team hits allowed by lefthanded and righthanded pitchers.

After parts of 5 ML seasons, Hermida has essentially been a ML average player at the plate and below average in the field.  He has not lived up to his prospect status nor his expectations.  His star has fallen so far that Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post feels it is unlikely that Hermida will be offered arbitration this offseason.  If that happens, and assuming the Marlins can’t find a trade partner, Hermida will find himself out on the free agent market this winter.

The thought of acquiring Hermida intrigued me, but I wanted to get the thoughts of Michael Jong who writes for Marlin Maniac and follows the Florida Marlins as closely as anyone I know.  He wrote The disappointing story of Jeremy Hermida on September 26th.  Michael’s post came a few days before Capozzi’s but both arrived at the conclusion that Hermida’s time with the Marlins is probably over.

I asked Michael if he would share his present day thoughts on Hermida, and this is what he had to say:

He’s drastically improved his walk rate this season, up to 11.5%, but it seems like he’s lost all sorts of power this year.  This year his adjusted ISO was a paltry .128.  He got a bit better this year with the walks, so he ended up as about an average hitter, but that usually doesn’t hold up in the corner OF.  It especially doesn’t hold up for Hermida because he’s a gargoyle in the outfield.  Even taking into account both the Fans Scouting Report and TotalZone, which was much easier on him, he still only had around one average season and three bad to terrible defensive years.

He may be worth something like 0.5-0.7 WAR in the corners in my estimation, and that’s playing close to full time.  He might not be a bad buy-low target though, as his value can’t get any lower I don’t think. I don’t think he’ll improve defensively, he might have just lost that over the last few years, but if he develops his power back up to 2007 levels and ISO’s .200, you could do a lot worse than a .260/.350/.460 corner outfielder.  It’s all buyer beware though, because he hasn’t shown that kind of talent yet.

Despite the last several seasons, Hermida still possesses a lot of talent and potential.  Even though his SLG has declined the last several season and even though he is below average defensively, he still manages to get on base at a very solid rate.  If the Royals were to acquire Jeremy Hermida, he would immediately become the team’s second best OF, behind only David DeJesus.  At 25 years old, Jeremy still has time to develop.  Even if he didn’t improve upon his 2009 production, he would still provide the Royals a significant upgrade in RF.  A change of scenery would likely give Hermida a nice boost of confidence, and playing home games at Kauffman would give Hermida’s doubles and triples production a nice boost.  In his career he has been at his best hitting 3rd (0.834 OPS) or 7th (0.883 OPS) in the lineup.  Since Butler spent 2009 proving he is a legit 3 hitter, Hermida would fit in nicely hitting 7th with very little pressure on him.

What about the defense?  As I mentioned above, Hermida’s UZR/150 in RF for 2009 was -4.5 and if he was able to repeat that for the Royals in 2010 he would be a defensive upgrade as well.  That said, you don’t need to take my word for it.  Below are the primary players to man RF for the Royals during the 2009 season.  The number of games started at the position, in parenthesis, is listed just to provide some perspective on how much time each player actually spent at the position.

Jose Guillen (64) -36.4 UZR/150
Mark Teahen (31) -23.8 UZR/150
Mitch Maier (18) -6.8 UZR/150
Willie Bloomquist (33) 4.4 UZR/150
Josh Anderson (9) 9.8 UZR/150

Willie Bloomquist and Josh Anderson were both better defensively than Hermida last season, but both are severely limited offensively as their respective OPS+ numbers of 77 and 49 suggest.  Jeremy recorded an OPS+ of 84 back in 2006 when he was just 22 years old, and he hasn’t been under 91 since.

The team has two choices with respect to Hermida.  They can roll the dice, hope the Marlins don’t find a trade partner for Hermida, and then try and sign him on the open market.  The other option is to step up and trade for him before he is non-tendered and then go through the arbitration process with him.  Since Florida is at least considering the possibility of non-tendering him, if the Royals were to go the route of trading for him, they must understand the surrounding circumstances and not overpay to acquire him like they did for Mike Jacobs and Yuniesky Betancourt.  Something along the lines of Anthony Larew for Hermida would be my initial offer.  If the Marlins ask for too much in return, then the Royals can sit back and wait for him to hit the FA market.  If another team swoops in and deals for him before he is let go, then the Royals can move on to other options.

For a lot of teams, taking a chance on Jeremy Hermida doesn’t make sense. For the Royals, however, Hermida offers a perfect opportunity heading into a season where they can afford to take some chances.  With a likely salary number of $2 to $3.5 million dollars, he can easily fit into the Royals limited payroll.  At worst the Royals end up with a slightly better, and 2+ years younger, RF version of Mark Teahen.  At best, Jeremy fully develops and makes good on his once lofty prospect status.  He’s worth taking a chance on and defines the concept of low-risk, high-reward.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Florida Marlins Jose Guillen Josh Anderson Kansas City Royals KC Mark Teahen Mitch Maier MLB Royals Willie Bloomquist

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