The Indians acquired a new super hero today by the name of "Out-Man". Josh "Out-Man" Outman is a 29 year old, left handed specialist who most recently pitched for the Colorado Rockies. He will come in a deal for Drew Stubbs, the Indians' right handed hitting right fielder, who has been on the trading table since the Indians signed David Murphy. Both Stubbs and Outman are eligible for arbitration next season, but Stubbs will almost certainly earn quite a bit more as a starting outfielder compared to Outman.
Last season, Outman posted his best year as a reliever with an ERA of 4.33 and 53 strike outs in 54 innings. While these numbers may not seem obviously impressive, that largely had to do with his misuse by Colorado. Against left handed batters, Outman allowed just a .198 BAA, while against right handers, he allowed a .347 average. Despite this, he was used almost equally against right handed (112 PA) and left handed(126 PA) batters. It would seem apparent that if the Indians want to increase his overall value, the answer would be to use him exclusively against left handed hitters.
This should be easy to accomplish for the Indians as they already have one super star LHRP in Marc Rzepczynski and two others that have the possibility of being on the opening day roster in Nick Hagadone and Scott Barnes. The Indians will likely continue with the eight man bullpen that they used throughout all of 2013, but even with the extra arm, it is likely that this trade will mean the end for at least one of those two other lefties. There is no question that as of now, Rzepcynzski is the number one left handed reliever on the roster while Outman is a strong number two.
On the other side of the deal, Stubbs had already been pushed into a platoon role, whether it was with Ryan Raburn, like during the end of 2013 or David Murphy, as was expected in 2014. A problem with this is that earnings in arbitration are based off previous seasons and Stubbs was a starter most of last year. The Indians were not ready to give starter money to a player that strikes out more than once a game and brings no real power to the team. Stubbs only joined the team last off-season as a throw-in during the Shin-Soo Choo deal. The main pieces in that deal were Choo and Trevor Bauer, but the Indians needed a replacement for Choo in right and had no use for Jason Donald with Mike Aviles now on the roster, so those two players were added to the mix. While Stubbs played considerably better than in his previous two seasons, his low batting average (.233) on a team full of like hitters made his inefficiencies stick out more. With such a weak offense surrounding him, the Indians couldn't afford to keep a defensive specialist in the line-up on a daily basis.
Overall, the deal is an interesting one as both the Indians and Rockies have an ample supply of mediocre outfielders and relievers who are capable of a 4.00 ERA. Instead of both teams dealing from strengths to address weaknesses, each team dealt from mediocrity for mediocrity. Obviously, both teams are attempting to improve their situations in these positions as the Rockies have added a few big name relievers in recent weeks (LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan) and the Indians brought in Murphy. With the new players coming in, both teams relieved themselves of the incumbents to make room. Stubbs could possibly be a starter in Colorado along with Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez, or he could platoon with a player like Charlie Blackmon. Either way, he will almost certainly see a return to center field and with the way balls fly in Denver, he should make a big difference on defense.
Outman will also fit into the Indians plans for 2014. With new closer John Axford set up to take the ninth, he will become the sixth assumed guaranteed member of the bullpen. The others are Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Vinnie Pestano and Rzepczynski. There are still two places to go and plenty of suitors for them, but Outman will have a leg up after his absolute dominance of left handed hitters in 2013. While he may or may not really be a super hero, trading for a pitcher named Outman is almost certainly better than paying $15M for one name Balfour.