Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The 27 year old left-handed slugger enjoyed a breakout season in Beantown, hitting for a robust clip at .296/.362/.523. Carp had strong on base totals and supplied a lot of pop in 243 plate appearances. His career line is not nearly as impressive, though he’s hit at a decent mark of .267/.337/.444. Carp’s 2013 season pulls those numbers up, however.
As much as I have become fond of Carp as a player, the more I dig into it the more I think it would be wise for the Red Sox to sell high on him. People assume that Carp’s offensive breakout was more credited to a change of scenery, going from spacious Safeco Field to the hitter friendly confines of Fenway, but that may not be completely true. Carp’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) in 2013 was cringingly high at .385. Typically .300 is an average BABIP, but it naturally varies from skill set to skill set. Carp’s BABIP pre-2013 was in the low .300s and made an incredible leap to a career BABIP of .333.
Carp was the recipient of some luck, how much is hard to gauge, but this is not a good indication going into 2014.
Along with the most likely declining offensive production, Carp does not excel on the defensive side of the ball. He lacks the speed and the range to be an average defensive commodity.
The Red Sox need outfielder depth, especially in center field where an inexperienced Jackie Bradley Jr. is expected to start against both left and right-handed pitching. After tearing it up in the minor leagues, JBJ could not transition that production in the Major Leagues and in 107 plate appearances hit a meager .189/.280/.337 line last season.
I’m personally a believer in JBJ and to me grades out as an above average OBP guy and a good defensive player too. I do, however, have doubts if JBJ can ever hit for an abundance of power in the Major Leagues. His time in the league has been a small sample size, but the guy is small in stature. Typically, with the exception of Dustin Pedroia, guys of his size don’t hit for power. Plus, Pedroia has the Green Monster to mash being a right-handed hitter and Friendly Fenway is not nearly as kind to left-handed hitters. JBJ is left-handed with substantial splits. He hits righties significantly better than lefties.
Having another guy to platoon with Bradley in center field could be ideal, especially if he has the athleticism to act as a late game defensive replacement or pinch hitter. Essentially like Quintin Berry was for the team late last season.
The answer to the puzzle could be located in San Diego in the form of Chris Denorfia. Unlike Berry, Denorfia can actually hit and does so well against lefties. Denorfia’s OPS against lefties was a staggering .834 compared to just .663 against righties. He and Bradley could make a perfect platoon, with Denorfia playing against tough left-handers and the coveted prospect playing on most days against right-handed pitching.
Offense isn’t the strongest facet of the 33 year old’s game. In 2013 Denorfia compiled an awe inspiring 20 DRS (defensive runs saved) and was among the National League league leaders. Denorfia on his off days could still be used as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. You can’t quite say the same thing about having Carp on the bench.
Carp saw a huge spike in his offensive numbers as a left-handed hitter in Fenway. Denorfia, a right-hander, has an even better chance at seeing a spike in his numbers with the Green Monster to abuse though it is tough to count on Denorfia to have a .385 BABIP.
Daniel Nava has proven to be more than capable of playing first base if Mike Napoli has a problem or needs a rest. He’d shift to #2 on the depth chart. Pending an extreme circumstance David Ortiz could play first as well. Depth should not be an issue here.
I would assume that the San Diego Padres would accept a Carp-for-Denorfia deal in a heartbeat. They are in need of some offense which Carp could provide if they believe that what he did in a small sample size in 2013 could translate over the full length of a season. Looking at his BABIP and factoring in the pitcher’s park that Petco Park is it’d be foolish for the Padres to not pull the trigger. It’d be foolish for Boston not to offer. Denorfia fits all aspects of Farrell’s scheme and could be a great addition to the defending World Champions roster.