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Buying Low For The Win

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So it appears Cristian Guzman will also be joining the Rangers for the stretch run. I'm admittedly not up on the prospects Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Rourk, but this is what Joey Matschulat has to say about them:

Somebody minors-knowledgeable once remarked to me that Tatusko is a future scout. In other words, an organizational pitcher more so than a legitimate pitching prospect.

It's Tatusko and Tanner Roark. Per Buster Olney, the Nationals are kicking in around $2 million to make the financials work.

This is another one of those peace-of-mind trades with little tangible benefit beyond having a safety net there and veteran presence/leadership/what not. Again, though, the Rangers gave up very little.

Thatt seems like an extremely nifty move by JD.

Guzman is unlikely to be any great shakes, but he is a fantastic supporting piece for a roster. Over the last four seasons (this current one included), he's averaged 3.3 wins above a replacement-level player (like Joaquin Arias) per 150 games played. Of course, he's never gotten to 150 games played, but that's not what the Rangers need from him.

Guzman has struggled since the start of last season, though. The entire reason isn't immediately evident, as most of his peripherals are the same, outside of some loss of power. His HR/FB rate has dropped in the past two seasons, and his Isolated Power in 2010 is .078, the lowest of his career. However, that's something that is quite possibly, if not likely, due for regression, as ISO doesn't usually stabilize until around 550 plate appearances.

FanGraphs' ZiPS projections put Guzman's weighted On Base Average at .319 going forward, which isn't a whole lot below average and pretty solid production from the middle infield. StatCorner's regressed wOBA places Guzman's expected number this season at closer .323 (average is .325). He's already roughly average at getting on base, which is always helpful, and a good bet to be at least average at shortstop and probably better at second (though he has been a tad below average at second this season). Regression like that is a player who could easily be worth more than half a win in the remaining third of the season over Arias if he were to play everyday. Obviously he won't play every day for the rest of the season, but while Ian Kinsler is significantly better than Cristian Guzman, the difference isn't so large as to make a huge difference in a few weeks. Guzman and his ability to stay on base should at least keep the offense from taking a large hit in the mean time.

And after that, he gives the team a very strong utility infielder. Most teams that win pennants have a player of Guzman's caliber getting regular playing time, the Rangers will have him as depth. This is more than a full season of wOBA of about .301-.304 for Guzman without much of a drop in BABIP from his 2008 year, so that is some concern, but even without regression, having a better-than-replacement level guy around to fill in holes, and not having to give up much to get him, is extremely helpful.

Like the Cantu trade, while this is no huge trade likely to make the Rangers better to a major degree, every little bit of depth and improvement helps. But Guzman has even more potential upside and flexibility than Cantu, and that's a definite win for the front office.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.