With an apparent need for pitching due to injuries to Zack Greinke, Mark Rogers, and Manny Parra, the Brewers struck on Friday, acquiring Sergio Mitre from the Yankees from Chris Dickerson. I would assume that Mitre slides into the fifth starter role for the beginning of the season, and afterwards he will be a candidate to fill a bullpen slot. Dickerson’s exit effectively guarantees a roster spot for Brandon Boggs as the fourth outfielder.
Mitre is unimpressive on the surface: a career 5.27 ERA with time split as a reliever and a starter. However, his peripheral numbers are far better – 4.72 FIP and 4.28 xFIP, and over the last four years – the ones that actually matter when trying to project future performance – he has a 4.81 ERA, and similarly better peripherals. His ZiPS projection calls for a 4.71 ERA and a 93 ERA+, which is projected in the American League. That’s not great or even good by any means, but that’s serviceable depth and certainly above replacement level. And that’s precisely what this Brewers team needed.
Furthermore, Mitre should be useful as a reliever. He’s historically been much better against right-handed hitters (4.22 FIP against RHB, 5.34 against LHB), and a move from a mixed role to straight relieving should allow him to be more effective across the board. Leveraged correctly, Mitre should be a capable, nearly league average reliever. Not exciting, but it holds value.
The problem with the deal isn’t Mitre, it’s the fact that it took a promising outfielder with an option remaining in Dickerson to get the deal done. Dickerson has his issues – primarily a penchant for the strikeout bordering on the ridiculous – but as an athletic outfielder with plate discipline and power potential, there was reason to be excited. It’s very possible that Dickerson’s power will never be what it looked like in 2008 (17 HR in almost 600 PAs between AAA and MLB), and if that’s the case both Dickerson and Mitre are very close in value.
However, I don’t see any way in which Mitre and Dickerson should have had equal value in the current baseball market. Mitre is two years removed from Tommy John and hasn’t performed particularly well for New York. Perhaps I’m just conflating Dickerson’s value, but he is a former top prospect who has a .267/.356/.403 career line in the Major Leagues. Mitre should’ve been available for a low-A or AA filler prospect, not a legitimate part of some team’s bench.
At the same time, it’s hard to imagine this move negatively impacting the Brewers too much. Depth was desperately needed at pitcher, as all three of the Brewers’ top starters have had issues finishing (and in the case of Greinke, starting) 200 inning seasons. With Marco Estrada, Mitre, and Mark Rogers, the Brewers can go eight starters deep without having to freak out. Brandon Boggs and Jeremy Reed should be able to perform adequately as bench outfielders. I will certainly miss Chris Dickerson, and I think he was too high a price to pay for Mitre, but the overall impact on the team probably isn’t even enough to deserve the words spilled in this space.