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Risk/Reward of the Mark DeRosa Signing

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 01:  Mark DeRosa #7 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates as he runs the bases on his 2-run home run in the bottom of the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of the NLDS during the 2008 MLB Playoffs at Wrigley Field on October 1, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Josh LevittSenior Analyst IDecember 29, 2009

The Giants have finally made a move to improve their horrific offense. Welcome aboard, Mark DeRosa.

As ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olney reported last week, DeRosa, who turns 35 in February, has been on the verge of accepting a two-year contract offer from the Giants since before Christmas. That offer, according to SI.com, is for a total of $12 million over the two seasons.

DeRosa can play on either corner in the infield or outfield, giving San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy greater flexibility with his lineup. He likely will play third, moving slugger Pablo Sandoval to first and giving the Giants more power and offensive punch at that position.

DeRosa underwent left wrist surgery after the 2009 season, when he batted .250 with a career-best 23 home runs to go along with 78 RBIs for Cleveland and St. Louis. He was traded from the Indians to the Cardinals on June 27 but was in the St. Louis lineup for three games before hurting his wrist against San Francisco. He spent a stint on the disabled list for an injury that was later diagnosed as a partially torn tendon sheath.

Keeping the deal to a two-year commitment is a major plus, but as you'll see, there's a large amount of risk associated with this deal:

Risk

  • 35-years-old
  • How will he perform after wrist surgery?
  • DeRosa is not a strong defensive third baseman (-8.7 UZR last season)

Reward

  • Only two years committed
  • Reasonable amount of money ($6 million annually)
  • Very versatile

Conclusion: There are a number of different layers to this deal that we need to pull apart. I think the Giants signed DeRosa to a very team-friendly contract that mitigates risk from their perspective and does not hamstring their payroll flexibility. But on the field, there are some issues with this deal. There's no doubt that the Giants will benefit from DeRosa's ability to play all over the field, but the fact remains that DeRosa is a below average defensive third baseman, which is a problem if the Giants do intend to play him there. I would like this deal more for the Giants if they intended to play DeRosa in the outfield where he is stronger defensively.

Also, DeRosa is 35-years-old, so you have to wonder how many more good years DeRosa has left. The risk of a statistical decline is strong in this case not only because of DeRosa's age but because he is coming off wrist surgery.

In addition, the Giants will be looking to DeRosa to add some thump to the heart of their batting order. The Giants offense was anemic last season and finished last in OBP, 2nd to last in home runs, and 13th in runs. While DeRosa is a nice offensive player to have on board, by no means should Giants be counting on him to be the offensive difference maker they need. The Giants should expect a .270-20-80-.350 line from DeRosa; anything more is gravy.

On a positive note, DeRosa is an upgrade offensively from Benjie Molina.

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