August 8, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Brennan Boesch (26) at bat against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
With Torii Hunter now signed through Brennan Boesch’s first two arbitration years, Andy Dirks performing well enough to serve as the strong side of an outfield platoon, and Avisail Garcia and/or Nick Castellanos possibly pushing for playing time in the next year or two, he (Boesch) is likely destined for a bench role anyway. And now that he’s entering his arbitration years he’s going to become more expensive, and it’s quite possible that he’ll be more expensive than he’s worth this year. It’s easy to take the risk to dream on a player when he’s making league minimum, but it’s not quite as easy when his salary crosses the one and two million marks.
Boesch has had his ups and downs in his three years as a member of the Tigers, but he’s really been a below average player over all. Both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference agree that he’s been worth roughly a half a win per 600 plate appearances over his MLB career – production that would fetch $2.2-$2.5 million on the free agent market. MLB Trade Rumors projected his arbitration salary at $2.1 million for this upcoming season, so there likely won’t be much (if any) surplus value in his contract for the next three years (even as an arbitration player) – especially if he’s only a part-time player.
The 2013 Bill James Handbook projection for Boesch has a slash line of .266/.320/.430. Those numbers are very similar to his 2010 season – and are better than his career averages – but, even with this bounce-back batting line that would put him near MLB average, his poor fielding ability probably wouldn’t allow him to be much more than a 0.5 WAR player (and again, that’s only if he plays a full-ish season).
If the Tigers could flip Boesch for something – anything – they’re likely better off than they would be by holding onto him. His trade value certainly isn’t at its peak – that would have been prior to last season – but, at 27 years of age, it’s not going to be any higher than it is right now. A trade of Boesch isn’t going to net “prospects”, but it might net a player or two while saving a million or two. The money and the players wouldn’t make or break the organization either way, but I don’t see any reason why he needs to be on the team, so moving him for anything positive while the possibility exists seems smart.