With Derek Jeter riding off into the sunset, the Yankees needed a shortstop. The Diamondbacks were always somewhat natural trade partners, given the presence of both Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings. With a little assistance from the Detroit Tigers, it sounds like the teams have finally struck a deal.
The reported trade looks something like this:
We don’t know the identify of the infielder that the Tigers are sending along, but it appears that the principles are Greene, Ray, and Gregorius. A quick look at those three.
Gregorius is 24 and has racked up +1.7 WAR in 724 career plate appearances, thanks to an 84 wRC+ and roughly average defense at shortstop per UZR. However, his defensive reputation is significantly better than that, as he was considered a plus defender as a minor leaguer, and could very well turn out to be a real asset in the field. Steamer sees him posting an 86 wRC+ in 2015, so he’s roughly an average hitter for the position, and if he fields up to his reputation, it’s not too hard to see him as a +2 to +3 WAR shortstop going forward.
As a player, he looks a lot like Elvis Andrus, though with a bit less speed and probably a little less glove. Still, nothing wrong with having Andrus Light as your shortstop, especially at the league minimum and with five years of team control. It is worth noting that Gregorius has enough service time that he’ll qualify as a Super Two player next winter, so he’ll get a little more expensive than a traditional 1+ service time player.
With Chris Owings around, the D’Backs judged Gregorius to be superfluous, and will acquire the player who fronted the Doug Fister package last winter. Ray was a bit of a flop in Detroit, pitching poorly both in the big leagues and in Triple-A, and the projections aren’t a big fan; he’s forecast to be a below replacement level arm in 2015. Maybe there’s something there that the numbers don’t see, but that’s what we said last year when Ray was traded for real value, and it hasn’t shown up yet.
For the Tigers, this seems like a pretty clear move towards the future. Greene has never been a sexy prospect, but he pitched well in the big leagues last year, and he projects to be a perfectly reasonable #5 starter in 2015. As a fastball/slider guy, he’s probably always going to have problems with lefties, but his performance against righties should be strong enough to let him soak up innings at a reasonable level.
The Yankees get a solid young starting shortstop who can probably project around league average and has some upside beyond that. The Tigers add a perfectly acceptable back-end starter to fill out their rotation and improve their club for 2015. And the D’Backs trade from a surplus, though unless the second player is something of real value, I’m not sure they come out ahead here.
We’ll do a full write-up once all the parts are known, but this looks like a fine little deal for New York and a smart enough upgrade for Detroit.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.