Archive for Trade

Ranking the Prospects Moved During the 2019 Trade Deadline

The 2019 trade deadline has passed and, with it, dozens of prospects have begun a new journey toward the major leagues with a different organization. We have all of the prospects who have been traded since the Nick Solak/Peter Fairbanks deal ranked below, with brief scouting snippets for each of them. Most of the deals these prospects were a part of were analyzed at length on this site. Those pieces can be found here, or by clicking the hyperlink in the “From” column below. We’ve moved all of the players below to their new orgs over on THE BOARD, so you can see where they rank among their new teammates; our farm rankings, which now update live, also reflect these changes, so you can see where teams’ systems stack up post-deadline. Thanks to the scouts, analysts, and executives who helped us compile notes on players we didn’t know about.
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The Marlins Declare Their Type

As soon as I finish this piece, I’m going to get ice cream. There’s a soft serve frozen yogurt place owned by a surprisingly fastidious stoner about a mile from my house, and I go there once or twice a week. If I told you there are 10 rotating flavors, with chocolate and vanilla as constants, how long do you think it would take you to learn what I like by watching me fill my bowl (there are all sorts of bowl-packing jokes on the store’s signage)? How many times would I need to go in there and pull that soft serve lever before you’d know that vanilla is actually pretty high on my pref list, and that only a few things, like coconut or coffee, will pull me away from it? Or that I avoid all of the fruit flavors?

How long before we can start to identify team regime patterns in player acquisition, and start talking about team preferences with confidence, the way we do when we say that progressive clubs look for common arm slots and hand positions, or fastballs that spin? The current Marlins regime has basically now been in place since the fall of 2017, when Gary Denbo was brought in as Vice President of Scouting and Development. Miami has made a lot of seller’s trades during that year and a half, and they clearly have a type, especially when you look at their amateur acquisitions. Yesterday, that type came further into focus after a deadline deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here’s the trade:

Marlins get:
SS Jazz Chisholm

Diamondbacks get:
RHP Zac Gallen

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Dodgers Add Lefty While Rays Declare Everything Fringy Must Go

In one of the lower profile deals of the day, the Dodgers added a new top lefty to their pen at a low cost, while the Rays continued their concerted effort to clear out 40-man space, with a gamble on a power bat who doesn’t need to be protected for two years.

Adam Kolarek is a lefty reliever who throws sinkers 82% of the time at 88-91 mph from a near-sidearm slot. Over the last two seasons, he’s eighth in groundball rate among relievers with at least 70 IP. Lefty relievers at that level come in velo models of hard (Zack Britton and Aaron Bummer average 95 mph), medium (Scott Alexander averages 93 mph), and soft (Kolarek and T.J. McFarland averages 89 mph). Aside from Bummer, they all have xFIPs between 3.60 and 4.00, so while Kolarek doesn’t seem overwhelming, his regular season peripherals aren’t that different from Britton’s, even though Britton’s higher-octane stuff figures to play better in October. As you might guess, Kolarek has a 101-point platoon split in his wOBA allowed. He may be fine in the short-term, and he’s still pre-arb with options remaining, but he’s also a 30-year-old late-bloomer with no margin for error, so this likely won’t last forever.

Niko Hulsizer was a 35 FV in the Others of Note Section of the offseason Dodgers’ list, and he’s still there for now, having not been added to THE BOARD just yet. He hit 27 homers as a sophomore at Morehead State, but that came with 74 strikeouts. A broken hamate bone in his draft year pushed him to the 18th round. He’s struck a better balance between power and strikeouts in pro ball, and is 22-years-old in High-A, continuing to hit for enough thump to make it all worth it. There’s some stiffness to the strength-based power, so he’s likely a platoon piece or bench power bat if it all clicks, with our expectations being that he’s more of a Triple-A slugger who gets a cup of coffee, at least until we see a little more performance. Read the rest of this entry »


The Braves Build Bullpen Depth, Adding Mark Melancon

The Atlanta Braves continued their deadline bullpen upgrades by acquiring relief pitcher Mark Melancon from the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Tristan Beck and Dan Winkler.

Coming into today, the ZiPS rest-of-season projections for the Braves, when combined with the FanGraphs depth charts, had the Braves with the No. 19 bullpen in baseball, ahead of only the Phillies, Nationals, and Angels among the plausible contenders. ZiPS is also the more optimistic of the two systems; when you combine ZiPS and Steamer on the FanGraphs Depth Charts, the Braves drop to 22nd.

There’s a misconception that Atlanta’s relief woes are because of Luke Jackson, the team’s closer for most of the season. It’s true that Jackson has only saved 17-of-24 games for the Braves, but save percentage is actually a rather poor predictor of future save percentage, especially when other metrics exist (ERA, FIP, batter OPS, pretty much anything else). Melancon and Jackson are in roughly the same tier performance-wise, along with Shane Greene; the reason the trade improves the team is because it improves the depth of the bullpen, which was a significantly larger problem than the closer himself.

San Francisco trading Melancon (and Ray Black, Sam Dyson, and Drew Pomeranz) does not represent the Giants throwing in the towel on the 2019 season. Prior to these trades, the ZiPS/Steamer combined projections had San Francisco with eight relief pitchers projected to have a FIP below four over the rest of the season. The Giants still retain five of them (Pomeranz was not on the list), more than enough pitching to cover high-leverage relief innings. The team has an improving farm system, but that’s largely due to the first-tier talent at the top of their prospect list: Joey Bart, Marco Luciano, Heliot Ramos, and Hunter Bishop. Much like the Braves’ bullpen prior to today, what the Giants’ system still lacks is depth. Read the rest of this entry »


Carl Edwards Jr. Changes Scenery

After adding David Phelps and Derek Holland to bolster their relief corps earlier this week, the Cubs traded right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to the Padres as the trade deadline closed. For Edwards, a change of scenery seemed like the best course of action after struggling this season. The trade was first reported by Jesse Rogers and the Padres return was reported by Mark Gonzales.

Padres receive:

  • RHP Carl Edwards Jr.
  • International bonus money

Cubs receive:

Just a few years ago, Edwards was one of the key relief arms who helped the Cubs end their 108-year World Series drought. From 2016 through last year, he was an excellent setup man, posting a 3.03 ERA and a 3.12 FIP across more than 150 innings. Among all 189 qualified relievers during those three years, his strikeout rate ranked 11th and his park- and league-adjusted FIP ranked 29th.

Edwards’ success came in spite of extremely poor command. His walk rate was the third-highest in the majors during that period. He managed to keep his FIP so low by maintaining a ridiculously high strikeout rate and keeping the ball in the park with a very low home run rate. This year, his strikeout rate has fallen to just 26.6% and his home run rate has spiked. That’s led to a 5.87 ERA and a 5.51 FIP. His struggles have forced the Cubs to option him to Triple-A twice this season. He’s also spent some time on the injured list for a strained back.

But his problems might have started way back during spring training. In an effort to solve the command issues that have plagued him throughout his career, he worked on a new delivery all spring, which included a pause and a toe tap to help him gain consistency. But during his first appearance in the regular season, umpire Bill Miller informed him that his new delivery was illegal.

After swapping back to his old mechanics on the fly, Edwards was quickly demoted to Triple-A to continue working on his delivery. After returning to the majors in May, he looked much better, allowing just four walks and a single home run in 13.2 innings. In many ways, he looked like he had made the necessary adjustments to his mechanics to try and solve his command woes, even if his strikeout numbers weren’t nearly as gaudy.

In his one major league appearance after returning from his back injury, Edwards’ fastball velocity was down to 92.7 mph. It’s possible the Cubs activated him a little too early. They optioned him back to Triple-A after that single inning on July 21. Now he is off to San Diego to strengthen the Padres’ bullpen. The 27-year-old is arbitration eligible for the first time next year and controlled through 2022, and if he is healthy, the Padres should get a nice piece for the back of their bullpen — especially if he’s figured out his mechanical problems. For Edwards, too, the change of scenery might be beneficial. His time with the Cubs was certainly memorable, but his relationship with the fans might have soured after receiving racist messages via social media during his rough patch at the start of the season.

In return, the Cubs get a left-handed reliever who is physically the opposite of the slender Edwards. Brad Wieck is listed at 6’9”/255 lbs — a very large human. After making the transition to relief work in 2016, he’s posted a 37.3% minor league strikeout rate across three levels. He made his major league debut last year but has struggled with the long ball this season. He’s allowed 12 home runs in 42.3 combined innings in Triple-A and the majors. Here’s Eric Longenhagen’s scouting report:

Wieck sits 93-94 and touches 95, vertical arm slot creates weird angle on the pitch, he’s a plus-plus extension guy who adds about two ticks of perceived velo because of it, and he gets a lot of swinging strikes with the fastball. Fills the zone up with the heater and just throws a lot of fastballs, generally. He’s a good lefty relief piece.

The 27-year-old did have surgery for testicular cancer over the offseason, but his minor league track record could make him an interesting piece for the Cubs.


Astros Acquire Zack Greinke, Win Trade Deadline in Closing Moments

The Houston Astros needed starting pitcher help and they got it in dramatic fashion, picking up Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for pitchers J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin, first baseman Seth Beer, and jack-of-all-trades Josh Rojas.

A couple of years ago, I became increasingly concerned about the continued decline in Zack Greinke’s velocity. It used to be that every spring training, Greinke would throw 86 mph and everyone would panic, and then the velocity would eventually come back. In 2018 that didn’t happen, yet Greinke’s shown every sign the last two seasons that he can navigate what could very well have been a late-career crisis, with the barest of speed bumps.

The major reason for Greinke’s survival is his multi-flavor curveball, a pitch he can throw anywhere from 66 to 74 mph and anywhere in the strike zone. The speed differences result in the pitch ranging from a traditional, looping curve to an almost full-on, Rip Sewell eephus pitch.

Just how good is his curveball? In 2017, by our pitch data, Greinke had his best-ever season with the curve, at 7.2 runs better than league average. Last year, that improved to +10.6 runs. This year, with a third of the season to go, Greinke stands at +16.4, second in baseball to Charlie Morton. At the pace he’s on, +24.6 by season’s end would put him fifth in the 18 years for which we have this data, behind only 2017 Corey Kluber, Morton, 2007 Erik Bedard, and 2003 Roy Halladay. Here is Greinke throwing his curve to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on June 8:

Oh my.

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A Florida Trade: The Marlins and Rays Make an Intriguing Swap

The Tampa Bay Rays are in the thick of a playoff hunt. The Miami Marlins are not. Both teams behaved accordingly today, with the Rays sending Ryne Stanek and Jesús Sánchez to the Marlins in exchange for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards. This trade, as many trades do, seems to favor the Rays, though all four players changing sides are interesting in one way or another. I wouldn’t fault you for thinking the Marlins might come out ahead in the end.

To my eyes, the gem of the trade is Nick Anderson. An out-of-nowhere success this season, Anderson is the kind of high-octane pitcher modern bullpens covet. He also won’t reach free agency until 2025, which means that he’s doubly attractive to the cost-conscious Rays. A rate monster, he boasts an eye-popping 37.1% strikeout rate, ninth-best among relievers this season, courtesy of a spinny four-seam fastball and devastating breaking ball.

While his results have been inconsistent this year, it’s not for lack of underlying numbers. He surrenders hard contact, with a 6th-percentile exit velocity allowed and 4th-percentile hard contact rate, but makes up for it with the aforementioned heaps and bales of strikeouts. It’s too early in his career to know how much of a problem the contact will be, but if his underlying talent there is close to league average, he’s immediately one of the best relievers in baseball.

Want a best-case comparison for Anderson? Think of Ken Giles. His fastball doesn’t boast quite the same top end as Giles, but they’re both four-seam/breaking ball pitchers who mix the two pitches almost equally and post ludicrous swinging strike rates. Anderson is at 17.4% for the year, while Giles is at 17.1% over his career. Giles has also had intermittent struggles with hard contact, though he seems to have worked through them en route to a 1.6 FIP this year. Anderson’s upside might not be quite that high, but his stuff is tremendous. Read the rest of this entry »


D-Backs Land Mike Leake from Seattle

Just moments before trading away Zack Greinke in the blockbuster move of deadline day, the Arizona Diamondbacks made an addition to their rotation, acquiring Mike Leake from the Seattle Mariners. It is the second time Leake has been traded since he signed a five-year, $80-million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2016 season, and the third time overall that he has been traded in-season. According to arizonasports.com’s John Gambadoro, the D-Backs will be responsible for just $6 million of the roughly $20 million still owed to Leake on his contract. The Mariners received 22-year-old infielder Jose Caballero in the deal.

Leake, 31, has been good for about league-average production and a lot of innings eaten throughout his career, and the same remains true for his 2019 season. With a 4.40 ERA in 22 starts, his ERA- sits at 101, which just so happens to line up perfectly with his career mark. His FIP, however, has jumped to 4.74, thanks to a career-worst HR/9 mark of 1.71.

The Leake deal was one of several the Diamondbacks made on Wednesday, though it was the only one that involved the organization actually taking on an established big leaguer. Greinke — along with $24 million of the $77 million owed to him on his contract — was sent to Houston in exchange for a mighty haul of prospects just before 4 p.m. On a much smaller scale, Arizona also traded backup catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Atlanta Braves, and in a rare flip of notable prospects, sent shortstop Jazz Chisholmranked the D-backs’ No. 1 prospect by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel — to the Miami Marlins for right-handed pitching prospect Zac Gallen. Arizona was heavily rumored to be shopping left-handed starter Robbie Ray throughout the week, but no deal ever came to fruition. Read the rest of this entry »


Astros Fill Two Pitching Needs in Trade for Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini

Just as the clock struck 4 pm Eastern, the Astros completed a significant trade with the Blue Jays, acquiring both right-handed starter Aaron Sanchez and right-handed reliever Joe Biagini in one fell swoop. As first reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the full deal looks like this:

Astros Receive:

  • RHP Joe Biagini
  • RHP Aaron Sanchez

Blue Jays Receive:

That is quite the haul for the Astros. A trade like this kills two birds with one stone: It allows them to add depth to both the starting rotation and the bullpen, two areas of need.

The Astros’ rotation has been quite good this season, but they have lacked depth, with Brad Peacock (shoulder discomfort), Lance McCullers Jr. (Tommy John surgery), and Corbin Martin (Tommy John surgery again) currently out on the IL, and Collin McHugh relegated to the bullpen after an ineffective start. The minor league options to replace them have had varying degrees of success.

Sanchez will certainly provide depth in the Astros’ rotation, but there is the potential for him to be much more than that. He is now three years removed from his last significant run of success, having battled a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness since 2016. But what remains encouraging about the 27-year-old Sanchez, despite his abysmal 2019 performance, are his underlying metrics. He still possesses a good fastball, though it is currently a few ticks below of what it was pre-injuries. More intriguing is his curveball. The spin rate on the pitch ranks in the 94th percentile, and hitters have been held to just a .273 wOBA (.234 xwOBA) against it, all while whiffing on 37% of swings. Read the rest of this entry »


Angels Acquire Stassi, Still Have Trout

When Jay wrote up the Martín Maldonado deal earlier, he called it “a minor move.” This deal, which sends Max Stassi to the Angels in exchange for minor-league outfielders Rainier Rivas and Raider Uceta, is the minor move attendant to that minor move.

With Maldonado in-house, the Astros simply didn’t have room for the 28-year-old Stassi, and so some sort of deal for his services was inevitable. This is that deal. Angels catching has been bad this year, what with Jonathan Lucroy out with a broken nose (and not playing terribly well before that), and Kevan Smith and Dustin Garneau, while pulling hard, not coming up with much but air against their oars. Smith, with his 105 wRC+, has been the bright spot, but he’s 31 and trending down in July after a strong May and June. Stassi isn’t anything to write home about with the bat either, but he’s got a good reputation with the glove and, unlike Lucroy, is under control until 2022. That’ll have to do until the Angels figure out how to develop a catcher (Jack Kruger, their best catching prospect, is still in Double-A).

Going back to Houston are two rookie-league outfielders: Rivas (18, in his second rookie league season and first stateside) and Uceta (18, ditto). Neither were listed among the Angels’ top 31 prospects, but Eric, who’s seen them in Arizona, reports both as big-bodied guys (particularly Uceta) with little physical projection and reasonably powerful bats. Uceta is unlikely to be able to stay in the outfield long-term, and Rivas is likely destined for a corner spot if he does. Both are about 35 FV organizational types. These are the kinds of prospects you get when you’re trying to trade for Max Stassi. They could make the majors, but they probably won’t, and if they will we probably won’t know about it for another year or two. At least the Angels still have Mike Trout.