The Orioles hate giving up minor-leaguers with potential. And Zach Davies was one of their rare, deep draft successes – a 26th-round pick in 2011 who succeeded on every level and had made himself the 6th-best prospect in the organization’s system.
But this trade – Davies for Milwaukee Brewers left-handed outfielder Gerardo Parra - had to be done. Really, it is the perfect fit for an Orioles team that has gotten woeful offensive production out of its left-field combo – which has included six players making starts there: Travis Snider, David Lough, Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce and two guys no longer with the team, Alejandro De Aza and Delmon Young.
Heading into Thursday, the Orioles left-fielders have combined to hit .210 (29th out of 30 for MLB left-fielders) with a .283 on-base percentage (27th) and a .330 slugging percentage (27th). They have combined to hit 42 points under the major league average for left-fielders. Ouch.
Parra is a career .279 hitter with a career .330 on-base percentage. Those are pretty solid numbers. But this year he is playing out of his gourd in 100 games. His .328 average is by far the best of his seven-season career – his previous season high was .292 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His nine homers this year are one off his career high for a season.
It’s possible the pending free agent is just putting it all together in his walk year and will do this for several more years. Or maybe it is just a one-season thing. But the Orioles don’t care. He serves as a major upgrade.
He’s not necessarily a typical leadoff hitter; he’s stolen 64 bases and been thrown out 37 times in his career. But he’s hit leadoff more times than in any other spot in his career.
So all of that makes him a guy worth having. But the real deal here is that he is also an excellent defender. He can play all three positions in the outfield and has twice won the Gold Glove. I was told recently by a scout that he isn’t perhaps as good defensively this year than he was in the past, but he’s still well above average.
And Buck Showalter puts a premium on defense.
Parra is not a super-sexy name like Justin Upton or Carlos Gonzalez. But he fits this team very well. And Zach Davies has a big league future with a great mentality, but he is not considered a true top prospect – so it definitely seems worth the risk.