Chris Snyder for Lyle Overbay? Apparently not

An interesting report by Nick Piecoro regarding a possible trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. This would see prodigal first-baseman Lyle Overbay return to the Diamondbacks. He was traded to the Brewers as part of the Richie Sexson trade in December 2003, and has been with the Blue Jays since the end of 2005. The deal is reported to involve Chris Snyder, now deemed expendable because of the blossoming of Miguel Montero. While Snyder is generally seen of as a superior defensive catcher, the output from Montero's bat is just too great to be ignored, and he will also be a lot cheaper than Snyder in the coming seasons.

After the jump, we'll take a look at the possibilities this might present, and what the trade could mean for Arizona next season - both at catcher and first-base.

[Update]. Per Nick Piecoro, "Concerns about catcher Chris Snyder’s surgically repaired back caused the Toronto Blue Jays to nix a trade that would have brought first baseman LyleOverbay to the Diamondbacks. Not sure if Snyder "failed" the physical exam he was scheduled to undergo today or what the exact terminology is here, but we know that his condition was the reason Toronto called it off." So it seems the two teams were pretty close to a trade, before it fell through. I suspect the news will make other teams think twice about Snyder too, so it may be hard for Josh Byrnes to trade him this winter.

From a salary point of view at least, I like the basic concept of the deal, though my feelings will depend on the specifics of any trade - for example, do any money or other prospects change hands as a result  Assuming, for the moment, that it's a straight-up swap, Overbay will earn $7 million next year, and then become a free-agent. Snyder is scheduled to receive $4.75m in 2010, $5.75m the season after that, with a $6.75m team option in 2012 (the buyout for that is $750K). So, it will lead to Arizona taking on about $2.25 million in additional salary - however, first-base was definitely one of the areas the team was looking to solidify, and doing so for that amount seems fairly cheap at the price. By the end of next season, we might have a better idea whether Brandon Allen is the 1B of the future.

Overbay had a very solid 2009, posting a line of .265/.372/.466 for an OPS+ of 120, including sixteen homers. It would initially seem he'd be a defensive upgrade too, having committed only two errors in 117 starts at the position last season. However, UZR is less impressed, scoring him at -0.6 in 2009, though his three-year average at the position is better, at +2.1. I also wonder how long it'll take him to adjust from the artificial surface on which they play in Toronto, back to 'real' grass in Phoenix? Looking at the UZR for Orlando Hudson, when he made the same transition, it's not good, as O-Dawg went from +8.2 to -1.3 his first season here. Hard to be sure if that's due to the change in conditions, aging, or something else.

One aspect which does surprise me is that Overbay is a left-handed bat. I would have been expecting us to look for a right-hander, someone with whom Allen (also a LHB) could team up. However, Overbay's career splits against left-handed pitching are mediocre: an OPS of .711, compared to .847 versus right-handers. And he's been even worse the past couple of seasons - over 228 at-bats against LHP in 2008-09, Overbay is hitting only .206 with one home-run. If he does arrive, it does nothing to address that gap in our line-up. One wonders if the plan would be to play Jackson at 1B against southpaw starters, with Eric Byrnes in LF for those games? [Assuming he's still about - if not, it'd be Gerardo Parra, and that's another guy who CHLFS.]

The departure of Chris Snyder would probably leave John Hester as the backup to Miguel Montero. The 26-year old catcher was 7-for-28 in fifteen appearances at the end of last season, replacing Snyder after Chris returned to the DL with back issues. Hester batted very well down in Reno - in 92 games, he was .328/.375/.535, an OPS of .910 - though as we all know, hitting there is like getting laid at the Bunny Ranch. No-one is very impressed and it doesn't exactly prove much. Still, Montero will be seeing the vast bulk of the starts; I hope his defense and game-calling continue to improve, as they seemed somewhat to do after he became the regular starter last year.

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