The White Sox sent two prospects to the Dodgers today for the rights to Juan Pierre. While defending the acquisition of Juan Pierre may seem odd, depending on whom the White Sox sent to the Dodgers, this isn’t a bad deal for the ChiSox at all. They only have to pay Pierre $8 million over the next two years ($3 million in 2010, $5 million in 2011). Even if Pierre only comes in at around 1.5-2 WAR, that’s not that bad for a guy only making $3 million.
The big questions are going to be a) how Pierre adjusts to the American League and b) how he plays defensively. Bill James has Pierre on track for a .310 wOBA next year, with a wRC+ of 87. That’s pretty on the low side for a guy who just had a .338 wOBA this year. Pierre will find the pitching much easier in the AL Central versus the NL West, and although his BABIP was high (.331) this year, that isn’t surprising from a guy who hit 24.2% of his batted balls for line drives and had the second highest speed score of his career.
On to defense, things get a little bit tricky. Pierre is most likely going to be asked to play centerfield for Chicago in 2010. While Pierre excelled in left field this year according to UZR, he was below average in 2008, and has been generally inconsistent in center field in the last few years. However, if Pierre can post a UZR within 1 run of zero this year, his positional adjustment should give him a solid boost in value.
Again, a lot of this deal depends on whom the pitchers going to Los Angeles are, but I don’t think Kenny Williams faired all that poorly in this deal. If Pierre can put up a .325 wOBA and play some good defense in center field, along with providing good speed on the basepaths and maintaining his usual level of games played, then he’ll certainly be worth the $3 million given to him next year, and probably even more than that.
UPDATE: FoxSport’s Jon Morosi has tweeted that the prospects going to LA could be pitchers John Ely and Jon Link. If that’s the case, then it’s definitely good news for Chicago fans. In his ranking of the White Sox farm system last week, John Sickels had Ely as the 14th best prospect in the system (Grade: C) and Link didn’t even make the Top 20 (also a Grade:C).