Happy Winter Meetings Day! The Cubs have been pretty active already and a center fielder will likely be a top priority.
Gerardo Parra was linked to the club last trade deadline and the team has continued to show interest. Let’s take a look at what Parra brings to the table and how much he’ll cost.
Last year was a tale of two seasons for Parra. Overall, he batted .291/.328/.452 with 36 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, 51 RBI and 14 stolen bases and was probably his best season so far. In his first 100 games with the Milwaukee Brewers he had an outstanding .328 average and in his last 55 with the Baltimore Orioles he had a much worse .237 average. Parra is probably more in the middle of two averages as with Milwaukee his BABIP was an elevated .372 and with Baltimore a lowered .259.
In his seven-year career, the left-handed batter has a .277/.326/.404 line 56 home runs, 311 RBI and 69 stolen bases. Parra is also well known for his defense, especially in the outfield corners where he won two Gold Gloves and is considered well above average. In center field, the metrics have not been as kind where he is rated below average. Less ground to cover in Wrigley Field could help his defense there as it did for Dexter Fowler. Another concern on his defense is that last year, Parra was subpar at every position. Hopefully, it was just a fluke.
If Parra were to sign with the Cubs, he would likely be more of a fill in centerfielder and then transition into a similar role that Austin Jackson had last year as a defensive replacement and depth player. The reason for this is Parra’s struggles against same handed pitchers. Against lefties, Parra has batted just .232/.296/.302 versus .289/.335/.432 against right-handers. With Javier Baez set to learn center field in winter ball and Matt Szczur a right handed batter, either could be a platoon mate for Parra.
Lots of teams in the majors will be interested in Parra to be a platoon partner and depth that can be counted on to start. The 29-year old has been projected to net a three-year, $27 million deal for his services. David DeJesus has a similar skillset to Parra with his bat and on defense and has started to struggle against lefties more as he ages. Nonetheless, DeJesus has managed to parlay his abilities into two straight contracts of around two years and $10 million per season. The lower annual amount likely stems from being in his mid-30’s when signing, but shows that the abilities of Parra can be worth the money as long he can continue to stay consistent.
While outfield defense has been made a priority and center field is a need, it’s a little hard to see how Parra fits. He’s not the best on defense at the position and he’s not an everyday player. If Albert Almora Jr. was closer to ready, Parra would be better suited as an insurance policy and depth signing. He’s just not the right match for a team with plenty of corner options, but a lack up the middle.
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