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Trade Reaction: Grading the Deadline Deals

After a fairly hectic couple of days leading up to the July 31st trade deadline – one, by that way, that saw the Rangers, Cubs, and Indians become big time buyers and the Yankees, of all teams, become active with at least one eye on the future – I thought we’d take some time to discuss and breakdown all the deals. So, without further ado…

 

The Deal: Yankees send Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford.

A hat tip goes to New York’s underrated veteran General Manager Brian Cashman for essentially flipping Eric Jagielo and Rookie Davis, both of whom have struggled mightily in their first season with the Reds, for a package built around one of the better young shortstops in the minors – Gleyber Torres.

Torres has looked at ease during his first taste of High Class A this season, hitting .275/.359/.433 with 25 doubles, three triples, nine homeruns, and 19 stolen while topping the league average offensive production by 21% – the second best showing among teenage prospects at that level.

McKinney, a 2013 first round pick, took a bit of a step backward after his second stint in Class AA as his overall production dropped from a promising 116 wRC+ down to a mediocre 101 wRC+.

The Yankees also reacquire veteran reliever Adam Warren who really blossomed the previous two years as a long-man working out of the pen.

As for Crawford, well, he’s a speed demon who’s been a bit old for his levels.

While on the surface it looks like the Cubs paid quite a lot for Chapman’s dominant services, they basically sent a promising young, potentially better than average big league shortstop, a fringy everyday outfielder, a reliever that didn’t fit their plan, and some minor league depth.

The Verdict: Win-Win

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The Deal: Brewers finally trade Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to Texas for Lewis Brinson and Luis Oritz.

Well, it looks like vintage Texas Rangers baseball. If you can’t stop them scoring, you better be able to out-slug them. Lucroy – as well as Beltran – adds to an already potent lineup and is a drastic upgrade over Robinson Chirinos. Plus, he’s as cheap as they come for the next year-plus. And Jeffress instantly becomes the club’s top relief arm.

But they gave up a lot of minor league capital.

Brinson is a supremely gifted outfielder with a plethora of offensive weaponry: speed, power, patience. And he’s trimmed his once problematic K-rates into half. Admittedly, he’s having a bit of a down year – .237/.280/.430 – but he’s only 22 and has more than 100 Class AA games under his belt. And at the ripe age of 20, Ortiz has breezed through High Class A and has made it look effortless in Class AA.

The Verdict: Win-win. The Rangers are eventually going to need someone to get people out behind Hamels and Darvish, but they added some thump to the lineup and bullpen. Milwaukee gets a potential Carlos Gomez-type bat and a #2/#3-type arm.

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The Deal: San Francisco Giants acquire Brewers’ reliever Will Smith for top prospect Phil Bickford and backstop Andrew Susac.

Woah…

This could be the most one-sided swap this season. But the Giants have never been shy about dealing away prospects for the stretch-run (see: Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler). Smith is a nice, serviceable lefty reliever – one who misses bats with some questionable command; he’s walked 64 in his last 151 innings (3.81 BB/9). But he’s not overly And let’s be honest: the shelf life for most relievers isn’t that long.

As for the Brewers, well, they acquire a big league starting caliber catcher in Andrew Susac, who’s shown double-digit homerun power with good OBP skills, and one of my favorite minor league arms in Phil Bickford. The flame-throwing right-hander, by the way, as sparkled in his first full season in the minors as he’s made stops in Class A and High Class A. He looks like #2/#3-type arm.

The Verdict: San Francisco overpays; Brewers likely surprise 2018 team

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The Deal: Cincinnati ships veteran outfielder Jay Bruce to the Mets for second baseman Dilson Herrera and lefty Max Wotell.

It’s no surprise that the Metropolitans were in the market for some outfield help; Brandon Nimmo looked overmatched during his debut and Michael Conforto was struggling to hit his weight. But what is a surprise, though, is the fact that they went out – for the second deadline in a row – and got a big time veteran.

Bruce had been pretty abysmal over the previous two seasons, posting wRC+ totals of 78 and 91, but he’s seemingly righted the ship in 2016 as he’s slugged .265/.316/.559 with 25 homeruns. Or…vintage Bruce.

But here’s the problem: he plays defense like the little old lady down the street and was better suited as a DH in the American League.

Heading to the land of Skyline Chili is Herrera, a big league ready second baseman who profiles as a solid #2 or #6/7 hitter, and Wotell, a very, very raw southpaw taken in the third round last year.

Herrera has surprising pop from the keystone, but his BABIP-inflated breakout in 2014 is quickly proving to be a mirage. Think of him as a poor man’s version of Jonathan Schoop. Meaning: a .265-ish hitter with some questionable OBPs, and 15-homerun power.

The Verdict: Fair. New York gets an offensive boost, but Bruce’s defensive shortcomings will limit his overall production down the stretch.

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The Deal: Tampa Bay acquires former international bonus baby Lucius Fox, infielder Matt Duffy, and right-hander Michael Santos for southpaw Matt Moore.

Whenever people get up in arms about dealing away top prospects, please remember Matt Moore, who, for those that don’t know, looked like the second coming of Koufax during his 2011 season when he posted a 210-to-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 155.0 innings between the Southern and International Leagues. Since then, unfortunately, he’s had glimpse of dominance, but he just doesn’t look like the same pitcher statistically since coming back from arm woes.

After missing all but 10.0 innings in 2014 and throwing a little more than 60.0 innings last season, Moore’s quickly approaching a career high in innings this season. And the production has been a bit…ho hum. The control is improved, but his strikeout rate is down and he continues to battle homerun issues.

He’ll certainly benefit from a move to the DL – what pitcher wouldn’t? – and he has three club options remaining on his contract. But I’d be surprised if the Giants end up picking up all three.

Duffy was one of the biggest surprises in 2015, earning nearly 5.0 fWAR in 149 games, but he’s been squeezed for playing time with Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik up-the-middle. At worst, even if he regressed more than 50% he’s still a legitimate, cheap, team-controlled big league starter.

The switch-hitting Fox was aggressively pushed straight into the Sally for his debut – at the ripe ol’ age of 18. And he’s looked overmatched. His patience at the plate is surprising, though. Speed will play. And Santos has fantastic control – he’s averaged just 0.77 BB/9 through 10 starts this year – but doesn’t miss nearly any bats.

The Verdict: Tampa Bay fleeced San Francisco. Moore’s a quality arm, one who could reach 2.5- to 3.0-wins in a NL season, but he has an injury past and Duffy should out-produce him over the next three years.

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The Deal: Yankees continue to purge high priced veterans by dealing Carlos Beltran for a Dillon Tate and Erik Swanson.

If you can’t stop the team from scoring, you might as well load up on all the offense that you can. Beltran’s best defensive days are behind him, but he’s in the midst of his best offensive season since 2011. Solid, solid DH down the stretch. But giving up late year’s #4 pick for a two-month rental?

It’s certainly…unusual.

Granted Tate’s initial numbers aren’t impressive – and there’s a high probability he ends up back in the pen – but this seems like a bad time to sell low on his stock. He started out well – 35.1 IP, 39 K, and 12 BB – but has really slowed down.

Swanson is nothing more than a wild card.

The Verdict: Win-Win. But this could turn out like the Beltran-for-Wheeler deal, though Tate has to take several steps forward. But, as they say, there’s a reason he went #4 last year.

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The Deal: Minnesota sends behemoth – and part-time teacher – Alex Meyer and veteran Ricky Nolasco to the Angels for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz.

Going from Santiago to Nolasco is an immediate upgrade for the Halos. Adding the Redwood Tree known as Alex Meyer as part of the deal is a pure bonus. Yes, there’s money owed to Nolasco, but Meyer – even as he’s aging – could still figure it out in the rotation. Fantastic minor league peripherals.

Busenitz is MiLB fodder, though he might be able to see some action as a seventh-inning guy.

The Verdict: Win for Los Angeles. The goal for Minnesota, I guess, was to get out from about $15 million owed to Nolasco – which they did. But Santiago is barely over replacement value. And Meyer will be a productive MLB pitcher, be in the pen or rotation.

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The Deal: San Diego dealt a resurgent Melvin Upton Jr. to Toronto for righty Hansel Rodriguez.

Mark Shapiro’s always had a thing for Upton, even going back to his Cleveland days. He’s actually been a solid hitter the past two years and he’s totaled 3.0 fWAR in his last 184 games. Upton’s still owed nearly $17 million in 2017, but San Diego’s reportedly paying all but $5 million.

So, yeah, they clearly wanted Rodriguez. But the Dominican-born right-hander’s numbers have been solid thus far, but certainly not overpowering. Solid feel for the strike zone, but hasn’t missed a whole lot of bats just yet.

The Verdict: Toronto. It seems risky to bank on a 19-year-old arm for a rebuilding club…especially when offense is down.

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The Deal: In a challenge trade, Seattle acquires struggling Drew Storen and cash for Joaquin Benoit.

My, oh, my, how the once mighty have fallen. It wasn’t too long too long ago that Storen was a solid one-win reliever. Now…he got shipped, with cash, for nearly 40-year-old right-hander Joaquin Benoit. Benoit’s had some up-and-downs this year (and a lot of walks), but Storen’s been plagued by the long ball for the first time in his career. That seems fixable…

The Verdict: Seattle.

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The Deal: Braves acquire Travis Demeritte for Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez.

A lot’s been made – and rightfully so – about the Rangers big grab that netted them Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress, but let’s stop for a second and take a step back. The Rangers, who dealt away Dillon Tate (for Beltran), Luis Ortiz and Lewis Brinson, are running out Lucas Harrell, who Is now on his third organization this season, as their fifth starter.

Texas’ rotation has the third worst xFIP in baseball. It’s Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, and…three days of rain?

Alvarez is a 27-year-old lefty reliever with control issues and might figure in down the stretch.

But for their troubles – and there could be a lot – the Rangers dealt away Demeritte, an all-or-nothing slugger with gobs of power and a troublesome contact rate. He’s likely not going to develop into anything tangible down the line, but you have to figure it should have netted something better than Harrell and Alvarez, right?

The Verdict: Braves win; Harrell will get exposed – again – in a big league rotation and Alvarez might be a serviceable seventh inning guy.

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The Deal: Minnesota trades shortstop Eduardo Nunez to San Francisco for Adalberto Mejia.

A lesser version of the kind they dealt away, Matt Duffy, to get Matt Moore, Nunez has been a solid 2.0- to 2.5-win player the last two seasons. He won’t walk much, but shows 15-homerun power and decent, average-ish defensive chops.

 Mejia, on the other hand, is in the midst of a breakout year: 105.2 IP, 101 K, 27 BB, and a 2.81 ERA between the Eastern and Pacific Coast Leagues. He’s nearing big league readiness and should settle in as a #3/#4-type arm. Probably #4.

The Verdict: Seems fair. Lefties that can miss some bats with solid control are worth something – especially ones that could step into a big league rotation today.

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The Deal: San Diego deals Andrew Cashner, Tayron Guerrero, and cash to Miami for Josh Naylor, Jarred Cosart, and Carter Capps.

Read about it here.

The Verdict: Padres. Even if they did have to send Luis Castillo back for Colin Rea’s wonky elbow.

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The Deal: Pittsburgh sends Mark Melancon to Washington Taylor Hearn and Felipe Rivero.

Melancon’s a dominant late-inning guy, has been for years now. His fastball’s been slowly declining – it’s now 91.7 mph – and it’s down from over 93.3 mph during his stint in Boston in 2012. But he’s a force late in the game.

And Pittsburgh, well, they wanted a big league reliever and a prospect.

They got just that.

Rivero’s a mid-90s-bringing southpaw with a surprisingly strong feel for the zone and fantastic K-rates. He’s averaged 8.91 K/9 and just 2.45 BB/9 during his two-year big league career. And Hearn’s is…well…he’s a lot like Rivero: a lefty with strong peripherals working his way through the low levels of the minors.

Most guys like Hearns don’t make; prospect attrition rate is a thing. But I would have trade Rivero straight-up handsomely-paid Melancon any day.

The Verdict: Pittsburgh.

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The Deal: Oakland swaps Billy Burns for Kansas City’s Brett Eibner.

From pleasant surprise to overmatched big leaguer, Burns hasn’t looked like the 2.3-win player he was in 2015. So…Oakland dealt him away.

Eibner has a more traditional big league toolkit: power, patience, size. So it’s probably what Oakland was banking on. But he’s also old (27-year-old). Burns could be another one of the late-inning speedster KC trots out down the stretch.

The Verdict: Fair.

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The Deal: Atlanta acquires Matt Kemp from Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Hector Olivera.

Hang with me for a moment here. Since 2013, here are Matt Kemp’s wRC+ totals: 103, 140, 109, 104. Now, which one is the outlier? Add in some porous defensive numbers and his overall production is basically replacement value. Maybe a spike here or there. But you know what I mean.

Now Hector Olivera, another high priced veteran, has been hardly seen on a baseball field since signing his lucrative contract a couple years ago.

Atlanta is going to pay Kemp something like $8 million a year through 2019, which, don’t get me wrong, is high for his level of production. But Atlanta has to throw somebody out on the field, right?

Plus, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Braves’ brass flip Kemp and some cash to a contender at some point for a legitimate prospect either.

The Verdict: Atlanta. It was salary dump to get rid of Olivera and what would assume is a terrible personality thanks to his off-the-field issues.

The Deal: Indians shock Cleveland by acquiring Andrew Miller from the Yankees for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and a pair of minor league relievers.

Read HERE.

The Verdict: Win-win. Cleveland’s window to win is now. Frazier could be a 4.0-win player, but Miller could be the difference in the playoffs.

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The Deal: White Sox swap Zach Duke for St. Louis’ Charlie Tilson

Just your typical situational-type lefty, though Duke has handled righties well, for your potential Quad-A/fringy fourth outfielder. Duke is still on the hook for $5 million in 2017, so this was more about moving his money than anything else. As for St. Louis, well, you can never have too much pitching down the stretch.

The Verdict: Win-Win

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The Deal: Mariners trade Wade Miley to Baltimore for Ariel Miranda.

As first blush it looks like the Orioles completely fleeced the Mariners in this deal. Miley’s typically a 1.5- to 2.0-win pitcher with four consecutive seasons of 190+ innings of work under his belt, and Miranda is a 27-year-old lefty with 2.0 big league innings under his resume.

But there’s more at play here, though.

Miley’s been plagued by the long ball this season, surrendering a career worst 1.45 HR/9, and is owed nearly $9 million in 2017. Plus, his groundball rate has declined for the third consecutive season.

Miranda, on the other hand, defected from Cuba and signed for an incredibly modest bonus; something below seven figures. He’s showing a low 90s fastball, slider, and change. The control’s been good in Class AAA and he’ll miss a couple bats. At worst, he’s a #5-type arm. At best, he’s a cheap, potentially strong lefty relief arm.

The Verdict: Win-win. This should prove to be another very savvy move by Jerry Dipoto in the front office. But Baltimore adds come (expensive) rotation depth as they push for first place in the AL East.

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The Deal: Tampa sends outfielder Brandon Guyer to Cleveland for Jhonleider Salinas and Nathan Lukes.

Savvy, typical Cleveland-like move by acquiring the 30-year-old outfielder with a solid .255/.341/.396 career line. Guyer absolutely mashes southpaws, hitting .283/.384/.464 (compared to .230/.300/.336 vs. RHP) so he’ll most likely be used in that platoon capacity. And the added OF depth helps share the load until – or if – Michael Brantley comes back.

Salinas looks to have a livery, erratic arm. And Lukes bashed his way through Class A as an older collegiate prospect.

The Verdict: Cleveland.

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The Deal: Oakland ships Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to the Dodgers for Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas, and Jharel Cotton.

Talk about moving firepower on both sides of this deal.

Reddick and Hill are in the midst of career years with the former hitting .291/.362/.441 and the latter already tallying 2.5-wins above replacement in just 76.0 innings of work. Reddick is a solid, albeit injury-prone, hitter on an expiring contract (like that matters to the deep-pocketed Dodgers). And Hill, who’s also going to be a free agent at year’s end, has looked every bit of genuine ace at the age of 36.

Heading back to Oakland is a trio of very promising arms.

Holmes, whom I pegged as a Breakout Prospect in 2016, has done just that as he’s posted a 100-to-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 105.1 innings in the California League. The hard-throwing right-hander has the makings of a #2/#3-type arm.

Montas, who’s missed a ton of action this season on a non-arm injury, can touch triple digits as a starter with an above-average ability to miss bats and solid control. He’s also a #3-type arm with a higher ceiling if he can take another step or two forward.

And Cotton, a 24-year-old right-hander, has looked brilliant in Class AAA this season: 97.1 IP, 119 K, 32 BB, though homeruns have been an issue.

The Verdict: Win-win. LA gets an arm to could start Game 1 of the playoffs for a lot of teams and a middle of the lineup bat, one, by the way, that forced the demotion of Yasiel Puig. And Oakland gets two potential mid-rotation arms and a backend starter.

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The Deal: Red Sox receive Fernando Abad from Twins for Pat Light

A cheap, replacement caliber lefty for a failed-starter-turned-mid-90s-slinging-reliever-with-control-issues. Abad doesn’t Minnesota’s long term plans and Light wasn’t going to help Boston this year. Why not?

The Verdict: Win-win. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Light peak as a dominant setup man, either.

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The Deal: Mets reacquire Jon Niese from Pirates for Antonio Bastardo

Yuck. Neither player was panning out for their former club. Niese, who heads back to NY, was below replacement level. And Bastardo has been plagued by the long ball.

The Verdict: Win-win. Pittsburgh’s had a lot of success turning around pitchers (Niese not included) so it’s a solid grab for a potentially good lefty reliever. And Niese adds some rotation depth for a team hoping to make a strong push into the playoffs.

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About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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