Arbitration Eligible: Andres Torres

There’s no doubt that Andres Torres‘ 2011 was disappointing. It’s something I’ve reviewed in detail, and I seem to have become somewhat of a Torres apologist. In essence, he fits the mold for the prototypical underrated player: stellar defense, an above-average walk rate, elite baserunning skills, and up-the-middle positional value. Torres enters his second year of arbitration this offseason, and the Giants, faced with their set payroll restrictions, will have to decide whether he’s worth retaining. Though he’s 33, and posted an underwhelming slash line of .221/.312/.330, I believe (quite adamantly) that the Giants should tender him a contract — or find some other way to bring him back for next season.

First and foremost, Torres will not be expensive. He made $2.2MM last offseason, and because of the substantial dropoff in performance, he’s not exactly due for much of a raise. MLB Trade Rumors projects him for a bump of ~$300K in salary, which sounds about right. Considering that he’s been worth an estimated ~$35MM+ over the past two seasons, that’s not such a steep price to pay, eh?

I’m sure the Giants would be hesitant to place Torres in a regular role at the beginning of next season, and that’s perfectly understandable. But as a bench player, Torres has a lot of value. In fact, at worst, he represents the ideal fourth outfielder. He can play every outfield position — and quite well. He’s got plus speed on the basepaths, and — though he does make his fair share of ridiculous baserunning gaffes — he’s a skilled baserunner (particularly when it comes to advancing on batted balls). Lastly, he’s a switch-hitting bat off the bench; he was quite mediocre at the plate this year, but he has hit .252/.332/.436 over the last three seasons as a whole.

In my mind, it’s a no-brainer. Though he looks like a non-tender candidate, the Giants would be foolish not to bring him back next year.

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