Twins Get Bounty For Berrios, But It’s One That’s Not Without Risk

With the trade deadline looming, today the Blue Jays bolstered their rotation, trading two prospects — shortstop/outfielder Austin Martin and right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson — to the Twins for right-hander José Berríos. As recently as early this week, the Twins did not expect to trade Berríos, but they decided to listen on him and the market well-exceeded their expectations. With Minnesota acquiring a pair of Top 100 prospects in return, it looks more and more like the Dodgers pulled off an exceptional deal last night, paying a similar amount for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Ben Clemens analyzed what Berríos means for the Jays; here we will concern ourselves with Martin and Woods Richardson.

The fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Vanderbilt, Martin was seen as one of, if not the best pure hitters in last year’s class as a proven performer at one of the top programs in the country with outstanding swing decisions, truckloads of contact, and flashes of average power. His future position was in the to-be-determined category, but with an athletic toolset, he was seen as simply ending up somewhere up the middle.

Unable to make his professional debut until 2021, the Blue Jays challenged Martin with an initial assignment to Double-A New Hampshire, and the results have been both good and confusing. On paper, his .281/.424/.383 line has Martin meeting that challenge with aplomb. But evaluators have left their looks this summer scratching their heads a bit. After striking out just twice in 69 plate appearances during Vanderbilt’s shortened 2020 season, Martin has racked up a 21.2% strikeout rate this year, while some feel his propensity for drawing walks (14.8%) also frequently puts him into bad counts he can’t fight his way out of. Data-minded evaluators also point to a loss of power, and while a dip would be expected during a transition from metal to wood bats, Martin’s exit velocities are down a whopping 8 mph from his college days.

The questions surrounding Martin’s defense also haven’t been answered, and if anything, they’ve become more pronounced. Martin has split time between shortstop and center field for the Fisher Cats, and scouts have not been impressed with him at either position. He’s been error prone on the dirt, with 10 miscues in just 26 games, while in the outfield, his arm is below average and merely average speed limits his range in center.

Martin played third base for Vanderbilt early in the 2020 season but had serious issues throwing the ball to first base and moved to center field toward the end of the season. Clubs barely got to see him play there and determine with confidence whether he could do it, though he’s a 50 runner and teams had doubts based on that. The reports coming out of 2021 are a continuation of the visual evaluations from early in 2020, evals that had a hard time gaining real traction because of the nature of that year.

This is not to say Martin is suddenly a bad prospect. He still projects as an on-base machine with gap power who, if everything works out, can hit in the two-hole for a good big league team. We’ve moved him down in our prospect rankings (we’ve also shaded down him down to a 50 FV, from a 55), but he’s certainly still a Top 100 type. It just feels like the concerns of the teams that didn’t have him as a top 10 pick heading into the draft are coming to fruition, and his floor is becoming far more likely than his ceiling.

This is the third org for Simeon Woods Richardson, who was originally drafted by the Mets then traded to Toronto as part of the Marcus Stroman trade. He was a two-way high school prospect who model-driven teams loved because on draft day in 2018 he was still a couple months away from his 18th birthday. Woods Richardson has climbed the minor league ladder with relative ease, pitching as a 20-year-old at Double-A in 2021. He’s had a walk-prone year (for him) with 26 free passes in 45 frames, though his season has twice been interrupted by duties with Team USA, including the Olympic qualifiers, an Olympic tune-up versus Collegiate Team USA, and then the Games themselves.

SWR was seen by all 30 teams in that tune-up outing versus the 2022 college crop (this was 10 days ago) and looked his usual self, albeit with a little less than his peak velocity. He sat 90-93 that day, but has been more in the 93-96 range when he’s at his best. He works with both a two- and four-seamer. His vertical arm slot better fits the four-seamer but his feel for spinning that pitch is not as good, at least on the high-speed video we’ve captured of SWR in person. His best secondary pitch is a changeup, which he somehow turns over from that vertical slot, creating screwball action. His 76-78 mph curveball enjoys depth created by his arm slot whereas his slider is not especially nasty, but plays when it’s located, and Woods Richardson is adept at spotting it. All four pitches have big league utility and Woods Richardson should slot into the middle of a competitive Twins rotation within the next 18 months.





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Josh
1 year ago

“It looks like the Dodgers pulled off an exceptional deal last night…”

Yeah, I agree. Scherzer alone could have netted at least Keibert Ruiz. Why the hell the Nats thought throwing in Turner, arguably the best SS in the NL, for a 55 FV SP (or a contact-hitting C…ugh) was a great trade, I will never know in this lifetime. I cannot fathom how a mediocre C who swings at everything and will get thrown out running to first 75% of the time, is better to have than an All-Star SS.

Mike Rizzo is fully off the deep end this week. What a criminally bad deal for the Nats.

ETA: But at least Minnesota’s front office shows that a team doesn’t have to bend over just because someone asked. Please get help, Rizzo.

steveo
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh

I honestly thought it was a fair deal. Ruiz is a high probability average catcher with upside and Josiah Gray looks like a mid rotation starter. With a pair of throw ins with intrigue. It wasn’t a heist, but the Dodgers paid a fair price imo. Especially with Scherzer being able to dictate where he wanted to go. Just because Minnesota got arguably more for Berrios doesn’t diminish what the Nationals got.

OddBall Herrera
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh

Agreed, the Nationals deal looks like a total ripoff in the Dodgers’ favor when held up to this one. Understood Scherzer was a rental, while Berrios wasn’t. But Turner wasn’t a rental either.

Though – the Nationals probably got dinged some for going a bit too early. They basically set the market, with other teams having another day to use them as a baseline plus drive up the price by saying “Look what the Dodgers and Yankees have added, pay up to keep up”

HappyFunBallmember
1 year ago

Since Scherzer wasn’t interested in an East Coast team, it mattered not what NYY, NYM, TB, or TOR were willing to pay for him. Playing SD against LAD was the only choice.

OddBall Herrera
1 year ago
Reply to  HappyFunBall

Not what I meant – what I meant was that all the teams that *hadn’t* made big moves feel the need to play catch up, and there’s one less player to acquire. So the price goes up – even if the Jays eventually got Berrios, Scherzer’s trade probably lit a fire under the Padres and Giants, which would explain why the reporting starting last night was that the Twins were being “blown away” by offers.

Smiling Politely
1 year ago
Reply to  HappyFunBall

Yeah, while I agree the Twins got more potential “value” in the deal, they were also operating from a superior negotiating position. If Scherzer decided he wanted to go to only 1-3 teams, you can’t really play the market.

abgb123
1 year ago

So long as Scherzer’s camp didn’t publicly say that he would only go to 1-3 teams then that doesn’t matter, so long as those 1-3 teams think they’re better against a larger group that’s all that matters.

shampain
1 year ago

The Nats also save like $25mn. 12 years of cost-controlled average production + $25mn in exchange for 10 months of star-level production in a non-contending season is not a terrible haul.

Easyenoughmember
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh

Twins could negotiate with anyone and Nats could only talk to the three west coast teams. AND Turner and Scherzer make much more money that the Dodgers are paying. These trades are apples and oranges.

sadtrombonemember
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh

I thought the deal was okay for the Nationals. We just have no way to determine what Scherzer’s value was because he can reject trades, and the deal was in the right ballpark for Turner alone.

This, though, is an overpay. This is probably 80% of the Nationals’ return yesterday, and that’s as much about the overpay here as the (likely slight) underpay in the Turner/Scherzer trade.

amartin
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh

The Dodgers are also paying a portion of the $15 mil/season deferred owed to Scherzer until 2028, realistically that will have played a role in the return they got, and unless someone announces how much it is we’ll never know