Strictly based on the numbers, Cleveland exercising utility man Mike Aviles’ $3.5 million option for 2015 makes no sense.
Going beyond the surface numbers, however, shows why the move is defensible.
No one will ever confuse Aviles with an impact player. His offense over the past three seasons has been remarkably consistent, with the 33-year-old posting the following lines:
- 2012: .250/.282/.381 line, 75 wRC+
- 2013: .252/.282/.368 line, 79 wRC+
- 2014: .247/.273/.343 line, 74 wRC+
What we have here is a player who is consistently below-average and adds next to nothing from his bat. Even giving Aviles credit for being able to play shortstop — a position that does not require as much offense — does not bail him out.
Major league shortstops posted a .251/.306/.363 line and 87 wRC+ in 2014, marks that still leave Aviles decidedly below-average offensively. Plus, Aviles is not a full-time shortstop, spending only 15 games there in 2014. Aviles’ other positions he played more frequently have higher thresholds for offensive success, driving the utility man’s value even farther down.
That value bottoms out around replacement level, with Fangraphs rating him out at exactly 0.0 WAR in his two seasons in Cleveland (Baseball-Reference is slightly kinder, scoring him at 0.6 WAR). The definition of a replacement level player is one that can be had for next-to-no cost, and given that Aviles has essentially played at that level, the idea of paying him $3.5 million for something a decent Triple-A player could feasibly replicate seems nonsensical.
But that is where going beyond Aviles’ raw WAR total can make sense of picking up his option. Aviles may not hit much or have an Andrelton Simmons-like reputation in the field, but he adds hidden value in another way. Read More…
From Indians Baseball Insider, October 24, 2014