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Should The Astros Acquire The Recently Designated For Assignment Outfielder Julio Borbon From The Rangers

Looking at the possibility of the Astros acquiring Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon who was designated for assignment.

Geoff Blum knows Julio Borbon real well
Geoff Blum knows Julio Borbon real well
Bob Levey

This move has been in the makings for a few days now. With the rangers getting pitcher Nick Tepesch back (who?) it appears outfielder Julio Borbon will be the casualty from that roster move.

Borbon has had an up and then mostly down four years with the Rangers. Drafted in the 2007 MLB Draft with the 35th selection Borbon made his debut with the Rangers in 2009.

In 46 games he posted a 105 OPS+ while splitting time between DHing and playing the outfield. In 2010 he was the primary centerfield for the Rangers but only posted a 71 OPS+ in 137 games as a left-handed hitter. He split time between the majors and minors in 2011 while struggling with injury. In 2012 he spent the entire year in the minors posting a .346 wOBA. He's shown plus value on the base paths with good speed and a 75% success rate stealing bases.

Borbon isn't a high walk guy he's posted average to below average walk rates in the minors and only a 5% walk rate at the major leagues so far. What does well, however, is make contact. In his major league career he's only struke out 12.9% of the time. For an Astros comparison think Jimmy Paredes with above average defense in the outfield and a better contact rate.

Speaking of the outfield. In the outfield he's posted above average DRS and UZR scores in 1499 playing the outfield in either left or center field.

When considering whether the Astros should acquire Borbon or not one has to consider the certain setup. Despite the poor play of the team Chris Carter is entrenched in left field and Justin Maxwell is in center. Maybe you move Maxwell to right and play Borbon in center but that means J.D. Martinez is out of the lineup and possibly in AAA. The problem I have with that is that Borbon is 27 and Martinez is 25. I personally prefer JD but I can see an argument for optioning him to AAA and playing Borbon but lets just say we keep JD what about Brandon Barnes. Both are the same age and Barnes only real above average skill is his defense which Borbon replaces. The thing is Barnes is a Porter guy so I could see Porter making a case for Barnes over a guy who has apparently been in Ron Washington's dog house.

That leaves Rick Ankiel who Dave Cameron recently had an article on as having some serious contact issues. Ankiel is also a Porter guy having been with him in Washington and is being relied on as a veteran presence on this team.

I could easily see this going either way. There is a case for Borbon replacing Martinez (options left), Barnes (options left and similar player) and Ankiel (contact issues) but there's also a case for passing and sticking with the current outfield options. Designated for assignment means the Rangers have 10 days to trade or waive Borbon so a team could swoop in and trade for Borbon before he reaches the waiver wire. I don't really see Jeff Luhnow trading for a 27 year old left-handed hitting outfielder who is probably a reserve outfielder at best; however, never underestimate Luhnow's ability to surprise us.