Archive for Trade

Rays, Padres Act to Type in Tommy Pham Trade

It’s a day ending in “Y,” so the San Diego Padres have made another trade involving talented outfielders. This time, it’s a big one: Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth will be playing in San Diego next year, with Hunter Renfroe, Xavier Edwards, and reportedly another prospect going to the Rays in exchange.

There’s a lot to unpack in this trade, so let’s take it in sections. First: what are the Rays doing? One option, as always, is that they’re one step ahead of the competition. Trading with the Rays is hazardous for executives’ health. They’re liable to turn a pile of straw into a 3-WAR outfielder, and get you to chip in Shane Baz while you’re at it.

Pham himself was one of these trades a little over a year ago. The Rays traded a shiny marble, two bright red shoelaces, Genesis Cabrera, Justin Williams, and Roel Ramirez to the Cardinals for Pham at the 2018 trade deadline. Pham promptly caught fire, batting .343/.448/.622 through the rest of 2018 before adding a 121 wRC+ 2019. His 3.3 WAR might look low for that offensive line, but it’s largely due to 92 plate appearances at designated hitter, which lowered his defensive value (though Statcast didn’t like his outfield defense in 2019).

When the Rays trade a 31-year-old outfielder for a 27-year-old outfielder, it’s easy to read it as them simply trying to outmaneuver the Padres. But there’s one major complication: salary. Pham is in his second year of arbitration, and he won his case against the Rays last year, securing a $4.1 million salary for 2019. MLB Trade Rumors projects him for $8.6 million in arbitration this year, which would have made him the third-highest-paid Ray, behind only Charlie Morton and Kevin Kiermaier. Read the rest of this entry »

Mets Trade For a Year of Jake Marisnick

It’s been clear for some time now that the Astros weren’t going to enter the 2020 season with George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, and Myles Straw all on the roster. There are, after all, only so many spots to fill in the outfield. A trade, then, particularly for Reddick (who’s owed $13 million next year, the last of his contract) or Marisnick (also in the last year of his contract, though for only $3 million) seemed likely. This is that trade, or at least one of them, and it’s with the Mets.

In giving up two minor leaguers (more on them later, with thoughts from Eric) for a year of Marisnick, New York is attempting to shore up what was a black hole of a position for them in 2019. The -0.4 WAR they got from their center fielders was the fourth-lowest mark in the game last year (ahead of only the Mariners, Orioles, and Marlins, who averaged 102 losses), due in large part to Keon Broxton’s horrendous performance in the early part of the season when he managed to accrue -0.5 WAR in just 53 plate appearances. Broxton, who really had no luck at all in 2019, spent the rest of his forgettable season with, funnily enough, the Orioles and Mariners. Read the rest of this entry »

The Brewers Found Their Grandal Replacement

On Monday, no other team non-tendered more players than the Brewers. In addition to the 10 free agents lost from their roster, the five players let go earlier this week add to the mass exodus from Milwaukee. Those 15 players accounted for 14 WAR in 2019. More than a third of those wins were accumulated by Yasmani Grandal, their All-Star catcher. The Brewers failed to bring him back on a long-term deal after he signed a four-year pact with the White Sox worth $73 million.

With plenty of holes on their roster and division-rivals gearing up for next year, the Brewers entered this offseason with plenty of work to do. Trading for Luis Urías and Eric Lauer was the first step towards rebuilding their roster. Now they have their replacement for Grandal in hand. Early Thursday morning, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mariners had struck an agreement to trade Omar Narváez to the Brewers. Greg Johns later reported the return from Milwaukee: RHP Adam Hill and the Brewers’ Competitive Balance draft pick (currently slotted in at 71 overall).

With the catching market rife with buyers and few quality catchers to be had, a number of teams moved quickly to secure a deal with a new backstop. Grandal, Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers, Yan Gomes, and Stephen Vogt all signed new deals or re-signed with their previous club in November, leaving the free agent market rather bare. With the Mariners basically telegraphing their intent to move Narváez this offseason, the only question was which contender would partner up. Read the rest of this entry »

Baltimore Gets Quantity for Bundy

In early June of 2012, my friend Ryan and I drove south on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Wilmington, Delaware for the first half of a Carolina League doubleheader, because Dylan Bundy was matched up against Yordano Ventura. The two were so dominant that the seven-inning game was over in an hour and a half, and we had time to hightail it back to the Lehigh Valley for the second game of a doubleheader there (Mark Prior pitched in relief for Pawtucket). Afterward, a scout who now works for a team in a national capacity told me he thought Bundy, who was 19 at the time, could have pitched in the big leagues right then.

Bundy would reach the majors later that year, however briefly, before a rash of injuries would prevent him from pitching in Baltimore again until 2016. It was an ironic twist in what is perhaps this decade’s greatest baseball “what if?” career, because when the Orioles drafted Bundy in 2011, they asked him to scrap his dominant cutter in order to keep him healthy. This was the equivalent of baseball pseudoscience, an old wives’ tale. We were still in the dark ages of player development, and perhaps no dungeon was more medieval than Baltimore’s.

I’m not here to assign blame to anyone, nor would I call Bundy’s career to this point — 7.2 WAR over four full seasons, basically a No. 4/5 starter — a failure, but in high school, Bundy was throwing 100 mph and had a 70- or 80-grade cutter and curveball which, if you classify his pitches a certain way, is basically what Gerrit Cole works with right now. Through some combination of incompetent player development and sheer bad luck, Bundy went from a dominant, polished high schooler with three elite pitches to an oft-injured, low-90s righty who, for a while, used his changeup most often among secondaries. Read the rest of this entry »

Padres Add Profar

Monday evening during a squall of non-tender news, the San Diego Padres continued to sculpt their 40-man roster during what is likely to be a very active offseason, this time swapping power-hitting “catching” prospect Austin Allen and a player to be named for famous non-tender candidate Jurickson Profar in a deal with Oakland.

From a roster construction standpoint, the deal makes an awful lot of sense for both teams. The Padres had four catchers on their 40-man and were suddenly shallow in the middle infield after they traded Luis Urias to Milwaukee last week. Profar wasn’t as productive as he had been the season before, and Oakland has a tight budget imposed by ownership as well as two young and enigmatic-but-talented infielders coming up in Jorge Mateo and Franklin Barreto. The club also needed catching reinforcement behind oft-injured prodigy Sean Murphy.

Profar, who agreed to a one-year, $5.7-million deal with San Diego after the trade, is now the favorite to be the Padres’ everyday second baseman next year. While his surface-level 2019 production (.218/.301/.410) was down from the previous year (.254/.335/.458), his peripherals (9% walk rate, 14% strikeout rate) were identical, he golfed out 20 homers again (mostly left-handed, though Profar is a better hitter from the right side), and he offers some amount of defensive versatility (2B/LF last year, all over the place the year before), though he’s not a great glove anywhere. As Craig Edwards noted on Twitter, Profar had a horrendous April before he righted the ship and was a slightly above-average offensive performer for the rest of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

Analyzing the Brewers and Padres Swap of Young Big Leaguers

Wednesday’s four-player Brewers/Padres swap was largely about two teams recognizing that they could trade puzzle pieces with each other to better complete themselves, and probably also revealed San Diego’s long-term pessimism regarding Luis Urías. Here’s the deal:

Padres get:

OF Trent Grisham
RHP Zach Davies

Brewers get:

INF Luis Urías
LHP Eric Lauer

With Lauer, the Brewers get an inning-eating lefty whose 2019 innings total is a big reason he generated 2.3 WAR despite his pedestrian 4.77 xFIP. He gives the Brewers yet another unique mechanical look, and chucks in a lot of varied breaking stuff, working heavily off of a cutter, curveball, and a slider that Lauer doesn’t use very much overall, but that he throws at a higher rate when opposing hitters have two strikes. That slider and cutter usage flipped last year (20% sliders and 6% cutters in 2018, with the inverse last year) and Lauer’s glove-side command of the cutter seemed to enable him to jam righties, as right-handed batter wOBA against him dropped from .341 in 2018 to .300 last year.

Lauer was still a little fly ball/homer prone last year, but PETCO has a fairly short porch to straightaway left field (334 feet down the line, 357 feed to left), and six of the 14 dingers he surrendered to righties last season were wall-scrapers, so Miller Park’s dimensions (344 feet, 371 feet) might prove helpful in that regard. Read the rest of this entry »

Mariners Add Cortes for International Bonus Money

Yesterday, the Yankees traded utility lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. to the Mariners for international bonus pool money. A source indicated to Eric and me that the deal was for $30,000 of pool space (we’re told it’s all Seattle had left in their pool), while others characterized it as being in that range, if not that number exactly.

This move may seem insignificant, but it hints at the motivations and strategies of both clubs. Back in July, the Yankees were one of a couple teams we spotlighted as having a 40-man crunch on their hands (we had Cortes as the last guy to make the roster), so being able to get something in return for him rather than throwing him on waivers because they needed to clear roster spots makes for an easy decision. The price of claiming a player on waivers is $50,000, while we’ve found the return on investment of an international bonus dollar, including operational expenses, is about 300%. Most teams think of bonus pool money as being worth at least double its nominal value, but the Yankees — who consistently trade for extra pool money, with GM Brian Cashman emboldened by their quick returns on high-variance prospects in the international market — likely see it as much more valuable than that. Factor in that given Seattle’s interest, the odds of Cortes passing through waivers was zero, and this makes a ton of sense for New York.

Meanwhile, Seattle is ramping up to compete in 2021 and has open spots on its 40-man roster, so adding an accomplished depth piece with major league experience and remaining minor league options for just a bit over the waiver price, while shifting a little international money into their 40-man roster, fits their competitive posture. Cortes is a 5-foot-11 lefty who sits 88-91 mph and relies mostly on his fastball and slider, but also mixes in a changeup. He’s likely never going to be a role 5, 50 FV or a reliable bulk innings rotation piece, so the Yankees probably figured that one of the prospects recently added to the roster, or a veteran on a minor league deal who won’t need to be added to the 40-man until next season, can fill the same role. Read the rest of this entry »

Chase Anderson Brings An Improved Cutter to the Blue Jays

Yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays added former Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Chase Anderson to their pitching rotation in exchange for first base prospect Chad Spanberger. Anderson, who had an $8.5 million dollar club option for 2020, was not a compelling choice for the Brewers given how steeply his performance dropped off after his standout 2017 campaign.

The Blue Jays get a middle-to-back of the rotation pitcher who started at least 25 games and pitched more than 141 innings through four seasons in Milwaukee, and struck out at least 105 batters in each of his six seasons in the majors. Despite not being able to replicate his performance from two seasons ago, Anderson was able to triple his pedestrian 0.3 WAR in 2018, posting 1.2 WAR in 2019 with an ERA and FIP in the fours. While the National League Central is no slouch, the American League East will produce a much stiffer level of competition for Anderson, who will need one of his best pitches from 2019 if he wishes to improve in 2020.

Last season, Anderson used his cutter more than he had in his previous five, throwing it harder than he ever had. It was his most improved pitch in 2019 and a very handy one at that. He cut his wOBA on the cutter by 100 points while drawing more swings out of the zone. Anderson also saw an increase in his cutter swinging-strike rate, and his contact in the zone went down:

Chase Anderson’s Cutter
Year wOBA GB% O-Swing% Z-Contact% SwStr% pVal/C
2017 .329 35.4% 23.5% 88.4% 7.8% -0.3
2018 .335 23.7% 29.7% 93.1% 7.0% -1.1
2019 .238 42.4% 31.1% 85.3% 10% 1.7

Anderson’s cutter is more of a complementary pitch, meaning it’s not an out pitch and he doesn’t necessarily throw it when he needs strikes. He mixes it well with his four-seam fastball to left-handed hitters in almost every count, with two-strike counts the exception, while to righties, Anderson typically goes four-seamer heavy (at least 50% across all counts) with his cutter usage is divvied up with the changeup and curve.

Of pitchers who threw a cutter at least 14% of the time (minimum 110 IP), Anderson’s was rated second-best in 2019:

2019 Cutter Pitch Values
Name IP FC% (pi) wFC/C (pi)
Jeff Samardzija 181.1 22.7% 1.93
Chase Anderson 139.0 14.8% 1.70
Cole Hamels 141.2 18.7% 1.68
Martin Perez 165.1 30.9% 1.62
Ryan Yarbrough 141.2 36.9% 1.45
Lance Lynn 208.1 16.1% 1.03
Anibal Sanchez 166.0 27.8% 0.97
Dakota Hudson 174.2 25.6% 0.89
Walker Buehler 182.1 13.6% 0.89

Pitch Info valued the pitch at -1.1 in 2018 and he was able to increase its effectiveness to a 1.7 last season.

Here’s a glance at Anderson’s cutter metrics and pitch action:

So what’s behind the significant improvement this year? Anderson made no adjustments to the cutter’s spin axis, his grip, or arm slot. The extra velocity with a slightly elevated spin rate, from 2340 in 2018 to 2382 in 2019, helped add an additional two inches of ‘rise’ to the pitch.

The two pitches Anderson paired with his cutter the most were the changeup to left-handed hitters and his four-seamer to righties. The changeup to cutter sequence creates a pretty decent tunnel, as seen in the GIF below.

Given that the velocity spread between the four-seamer and cutter was only around 4 mph, it wasn’t an ideal combination and likely didn’t do much to boost the cutter’s effectiveness.

Anderson’s cutter isn’t dominant but it’s a valuable asset in his arsenal. It helps pick up the slack on his changeup and curveball, and can create a nice pitch-shape change when subbed in for his fastball. Anderson is moving to a division that hit the cutter with essentially the same success (.313 wOBA) as the NL Central (.319 wOBA) did in 2019, so it’s reasonable to think the pitch can still be effective so long as he uses it the same way next season as he did in Milwaukee.

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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

Read the rest of this entry »