Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse tweeted today that Diamondbacks and Nationals are both showing interest in 36-year-old outfielder Randy Winn. Following the tweeting trend, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweeted that Randy Winn was likely going to the place where he felt he would get the most at bats, indicating that if the Nationals were to make a push for him it would either mean a reduced role for Elijah Dukes or the trading of Josh Willingham.
If the Nationals do make the move to try and sign Randy Winn it will show yet another commitment to defense from Mike Rizzo. Many inside baseball are considering defense the new on-base percentage in baseball as a stat that many undervalue, and one that can help a club win. We can see this in the recent contract extension of Franklin Gutierrez, the defensive stop gap in centerfield who helped spur the Mariners to a much improved 2010 record.
Defensively, Winn is a major improvement in right field over Elijah Dukes, even at the age of 36. Last season in Right Field for the Nationals Dukes had a sub-par UZR of -2.5 compared to Winn's plus 9.6. According to Fan Graphs, Winn was valued at 16.5 fielding runs above average compared to Dukes' -6.2.
At the plate Winn regressed in 2009. In 2008 for the Giants Winn batted .306/.363/.426 had a .352 wOBA and a 115 wRC+. Those numbers all dropped in 2009 where Winn fell to .262/.318/.353 with an awful .302 wOBA and an even worse 82 wRC+. At 36, there is no reason to believe Winn will do any better offensively. While throughout his career Winn has been considered a plus offensive player, he will be no more than a strong defensive presence in 2010.
Looking at two of his projections for 2010, we see two different stories. Bill James believes Winn will generally return to the lower side of his mean, and that 2009 was just a big outlier in what has been a strong career. CHONE however believes Winn is on the downside of his career and will likely have numbers similar to 2009. Here are the projections:
Bill James: .276/.377/.389, .321 wOBA, 96 wRC+
CHONE: .259/.317/.364, .306 wOBA, 84 wRC+
Neither projection is very good, and neither are as good as Elijah Dukes projections (who is 11 years younger).
Dukes Bill James: .263/.359/.439, .348 wOBA, 113 wRC+
Dukes CHONE: .262/.364/.438, .351 wOBA, 116 wRC+
If Mike Rizzo signs Winn as a precursor of a Josh Willingham trade it will be a good move. The Nationals will be giving up a great, all be it streaky, bat in the outfield while gaining a very good defender and probably a middle infielder or starting pitcher. If they want to add him to take-over for Elijah Dukes it may not be as wise. While Dukes has struggled and his job shouldn't be promised, at 25 he has way more upside and potential for the franchises future, regardless of his defensive problems.
(NOTE: Willingham's outfield UZR in 2009 was -5.2)