If you're not familiar with Ender Inciarte, you've been missing out. First of all, he has one of the coolest names in baseball -- as you can see. Seriously, he sounds like an awesome towel-wielding Douglas Adams character.
If you are familiar with Inciarte, then you know that he's one of the best defenders in the game. You know that he has more Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) over the last two years than every outfielder in baseball other than Kevin Kiermaier and Jason Heyward. Yes, that inlcudes Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. He's also third in UZR/150. You also know that he's tied for fourth in outfield assists and put up 5.2 dWAR over that span. That's some pretty serious run theft. He's like Lucy, Charlie Brown-ing hitters over and over again no matter how hard they try.
Defensive metrics can be deceiving, but he also won a Fielding Bible award in 2015 as a multi-positional player -- he played all three outfield spots for the Diamondbacks last year. By all accounts, he's extremely good at playing the outfield. Clearly, the Royals like that sort of thing.
But guess what? He can also hit.
He's batted a combined .292 over his first two seasons and has only struck out in eleven percent of his at bats -- only a handful of guys can say they struck out less frequently in the two seasons since Inciarte debuted. He's not much of a slugger, but he makes more than enough contact to fit into the Royals lineup -- at the top or the bottom.
Inciarte, still just 25, can also run the bases. He's stolen 40 bags over the last two years, and although he was caught 10 times last year, he was only thrown out three times in 2014 so his overall ratio might be slightly skewed. Still, succeeding 40 times out of 53 is respectable.
When you squash all that stuff into one dude, you get a very Royalsy player. Imagine how good an outfield of Cain, Dyson, and Inciarte would be. So, what would it take to get him?
I get the impression they will keep him unless blown away (again) by a great offer https://t.co/4QMu1hJvws— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) December 13, 2015
Well, the Braves are supposedly looking for pitching. Nobody likes giving up pitching prospects, but for a pre-arbitration three-win player in his prime, letting go of someone like Miguel Almonte or Scott Blewett seems like a reasonable price to pay. It might take a little more than that, but a few secondary pieces would seem to be worth parting with in order to get an undervalued guy like Inciarte -- and a package of Almonte or Blewett plus a lower-level guy like Samir Duenez or Ramon Torres might be enough to blow the Braves away, depending on how they value Inciarte.
On the open market, a 25-year-old, .300-hitting, three-win outfielder capable of playing center very well would net a massive contract. Jason Heyward is looking at $200 million deals, and while Inciarte is not as good as Heyward, giving up a prospect or two rather than a huge financial commitment that may or may not cost the team a draft pick is a no-brainer. Likewise, trading for a guy like Todd Frazier would be great, but he'd cost a hell of a lot more than Almonte. And finally, committing (relatively) big money to a player like Gerardo Parra would be a much more rigid commitment than Inciarte would represent.
Inciarte could be a great fit for this team ... if the Braves will move him.