Travis Snider was pulled out of a game he was in at around midnight today, and Blue Jays fans were speculating that he was part of a trade to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. The reality is that he was traded to the Pirates for Brad Lincoln.
Snider is a player I’ve had my eyes on while he was in Toronto since he was named the sixth-best prospect in the MLB prior to the 2009 season and he straight-up dominated AAA, hitting for a .333/.412/.565 triple-slash line, as well as crushing 33 bombs in 183 games. Sadly, his performance in the minors hasn’t translated to the Bigs, where he’s hit for an OBP of just .305 and a slugging average of .429 in 241 games. He seems to be bouncing up and down between an above- and below-league average OPS, having an OPS+ above 100 in 2008 (his rookie season) and 2010 (and so far in 2012, but he’s played nine games) and below 100 in 2009 and 2011.
Brad Lincoln is headed back to Toronto in the trade. In 28 games this year, Lincoln has a 2.73 ERA and a 3.44 xFIP. Maybe the reason Toronto traded for him is because they think he will be a starter for them, but that ship sailed a long time ago. He started five games this season and was sent to the pen because of his lackluster performance, including a 6.08 ERA and a .340 opponents’ on-base average. His 0.50 ERA out of the bullpen is incredible, but I don’t really see why a team would trade a left-handed power bat for a reliever who may not even be able to keep up the results.
As for the outfield configuration, Travis Snider’s UZR/150 in left field (5.6) in about 1500 innings is higher than anywhere else in the outfield, but that is also balanced by the spacious left field in PNC Park. He doesn’t have the arm to play right field, so it would be tough to figure out where to put him.
With the acquisition of Snider, you would have to imagine that Jose Tabata’s days as a Pirate are numbered.