The trade deadline occurred. Jordan and Jonathan go over the last couple trades, some playoff potential, make fun of each other and end up talking about Pokemon. Enjoy!
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: 2019 5th Round Draft Pick
Team Hydra sends: 2019 5th Round Draft Pick
Andrew’s thoughts: What a bunch of idiots.
Jordan’s thoughts: Yep. Idiots.
Andrew’s thoughts: Tony Zych isn’t worth keeping at $5 and neither Matt Garza or Christian Friedrich are likely to be either. So in the end, this is a free handout, giving Hustle Loyalty Respect a couple of depth arms for the balance of the year. Garza’s FIP is 4.57, Friedrich’s is 4.39. These are not good pitchers, but have you seen what’s on waivers? I like it for HLR. I don’t like it for the Squids, who got Garza for Russell Martin and have now given him away, thus making the net return for a quality catcher… Mike Minor.
It warrants mentioning that there was supposed to be some other small pieces going to HLR, but something went awry when offering the trade. So here we are. Let it be a lesson to you that before clicking “send” on an offer, take a moment to quality control yourself.
Capital City Ironmen sends: SP Tom Koehler (FA)
We Talk Fantasy Sports sends: 3B Renato Nunez (minors)
Andrew’s thoughts: This one’s kinda boring, but whatever, I wanted to make a deadline day deal.
After picking him up from free agency, I had started Tom Koehler nine times for 30.33 points per start (273 points). That’s quite good. The key is starting him at home and against weaker opponents. WTFS is still clawing for a playoff spot and with Jordan Zimmermann making only one start before returning to the DL, they really needed the arm for the stretch run. For their circumstances, I really like that Koehler was even on their radar. He makes perfect sense for their need, both in terms of what he offers their lineup and what his acquisition cost was.
Koehler was going to be $5 next year and while that’s a reasonable price to keep pretty much any SP you can get mileage out of, I decided to just cash out for an interesting cost controlled prospect at a position of need. Renato Nunez plays 3B now but could end up at 1B in Oakland. He’s not had a great season, but he’s spent all of 2017 at AAA (so he’s close), has some pop, and was the 61st player off the board in our prospect draft. The latter means pretty much nothing, but shows that he was a fairly coveted prospect in the not too distant past. He’s a borderline top-100 guy. I liked the prospect and felt like making a swap.
Jordan’s thoughts: Tom Koehler gets more love here than he does at home on Thanksgiving. Good grief.
Andrew’s thoughts: I like this one for We Talk Fantasy Sports. They needed a centerfielder anyway because Byron Buxton sucks, but that need grew over the weekend when Buxton was demoted to the minors because of the lingering issue of him sucking. Also, WTFS has some guy named Andrew McCutchen. Enter Charlie Blackmon!
Personally, Rockies players frustrate me because you never know if they’re good or if Coors is just gassing them up. Often their home/road splits make them platoon players, but Blackmon has been good both in and away from Colorado. He’s got a .369 wOBA at home and a .350 on the road, though his career road wOBA is just .299. Maybe he’s just played at altitude long enough to finally be able to make the proper road adjustments.
Michael Kopech is a decent enough prospect and that pick is nice, but as of today, it projects to be 10th overall. Good, not great. Best case for TBD, it’s probably eighth overall. I think I’d rather just have Blackmon. His salary is reasonable and he seems like a guy you can ride until the Rockies eventually trade him. They were slow to pull that trigger with Tulo and have been equally slow, if not slower, with CarGo. I imagine they won’t rush to deal Blackmon.
For TBD, I get it. Leonys Martin has been useful and Andrew Benintendi just got promoted and is indisputably the greatest baseball player that ever lived before ever actually accomplishing anything and an immediate marked upgrade over literally any other outfielder, so Blackmon was expendable. This way they free up some future budget space and get a couple assets. This trade works for both sides, I just like the side getting the finely priced proven commodity amid a playoff race.
Jordan’s thoughts: I read the Benintendi line and immediately thought about the last player to have that tag… Buxton. So with that, Blackmon is a useful upgrade here. Paid a smallish price of a couple of future assets that may or may not be interesting. Seems like a great deal for both sides.
Andrew’s thoughts: All the playoff teams are snapping up pitching.
This one’s interesting. For The Foundation, going from Alex Gordon to Melky Cabrera is a very solid upgrade, both in performance and salary. Gordon has traditionally been very productive, but at $19 next year and given how he’s looked this year, he’s an easy cut. Melky at $6 in 2017 is a candidate for greed because of how good he’s been. At just 31-years-old, Melky has a few solid years left and the low starting nature of his salary should keep him on Jordan’s team for 2-3 years.
The balance of the trade is a $68 King Felix, who looks like he might be broken, for two quality outfield prospects that have promise but aren’t atop many lists — though Jackson spent two years in the top-50 or so.
In Bader, The Foundation gets a 22-year-old Cardinal prospect — Cardinals prospects always seem to be worth something — who has hit at four minor league levels in two seasons. He’s not a big time prospect, but he looks like he could be another Stephen Piscotty and if he is, that’s worth quite a bit. Jackson, meanwhile, is risky. He’s almost 21-years-old and still at A-ball, but he’s got a .348 wOBA there this year and may be getting back on the right track. After the 2014 season, he was Baseball America’s 20th ranked prospect, so there’s pedigree here. But Mariners prospects are like the antithesis of Cardinals prospects, so who knows?
Meanwhile, at $70 going into next year, Felix is on track to end up cut and back at auction. He’s been right around a league average performer — he’s averaging 24.73 points per start — but is clearly not what he used to be. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and his FIP and xFIP are decisively mediocre. The downward trend that started last year has continued into 2016. He has 10 seasons of 190+ innings in his rearview mirror and it may be finally catching up to him.
So what I’m saying is, I don’t think Felix was worth a big haul. If he was prime Felix, sure. But this is 30-year-old rental Felix, with maybe a hope that he turns it around the rest of the way and gets kept. Bader and Jackson, plus turning Gordon into Melky, seems about right. I maybe would have preferred a pick upgrade or some other asset to go to The Foundation just as a “pitcher tax,” but that’s nitpicking.
For HLR, this is a fine upgrade heading into the postseason. His rotation is fronted by Adam Wainwright and Junior Guerra, then there’s a big dropoff to Mike Leake, Kevin Gausman, and Yordano Ventura. This is a volatile pitching staff and Felix is, at this stage of his career, a volatile pitcher. But the price was very reasonable and there’s considerable upside in Felix’s arm for the rest of the season. HLR is in a great spot, but his is a team that I don’t think can afford to just stand pat while his competitors get better, as the three other teams that currently hold playoff spots have all outscored his squad on the season.
Jordan’s thoughts: Trading Felix feels like breaking up with that girlfriend that you still care for, but you’re going in different directions. You leave the door open, perhaps our paths will cross again, and you say good bye.
For HLR getting Felix provides some ample depth at a position they could use. Gordon for Melky for this season is not a huge swing in either way, plus they have other hitters to cover. They’ve out grinded the rest of the league anyway.
For me, Bader is an interesting prospect, perhaps he’s good, perhaps he’s not. He is in a crowded system for a team that does not have an extra spot for hitters. I don’t expect him to help me soon. Swapping for Melky just made sense to me. Finally, acquiring Alex Jackson solved the issue of getting offered Alex Jackson on a weekly bases since the day he was drafted. Win-win-win.
Jordan’s thoughts: What a disaster. I get it. You have lots of aces. But, any veteran of fantasy baseball should be well aware, that come fantasy playoff time, pitching rotations change. Two-start weeks start to disappear. That’s why you want seven good and reliable starters, because when it counts (unlike MLB where you can get away with just 3), you need 6 (if you’re lucky) or 7 starters.
Yoan is an impressive prospect, I get it. He probably will see playing time next season. That’s not very helpful now. I don’t see the value in this trade even if TBD was not in the playoff hunt. Trading two real assets for one 21-year-old who is doing quite well in AA seems foolish. Sure, if Moncada comes up and is a top-5 2B, great, you’re sitting on a fat pile of value for a few seasons. However, sitting on players who have great value doesn’t guarantee a future dynasty. Far from it.
Championships require a good roster, great value, but most of all luck. Even if Moncada is a monster and a top 15 MLB fantasy hitter, you still need the other 29 spots on your roster to work out in any given season. And you took a great roster that has a real chance to win it all this season and bruised it hard.
Hydra gets way better here. I love this move for them. They probably can figure out how to keep both players, and they’ll provide more value in the next three or four years than Moncada. Easy move. EVEN IF THEY DON’T keep either player, their shot of winning the whole league just went up because they took from the team they’re tied with and added to their own. Brilliant.
If TBD wins it all anyway, great. “Better lucky than good” is something I hear all too often.
Andrew’s thoughts: Maybe I’m just jealous because I tried to get Moncada and failed, but as soon as this trade popped up in my e-mail, the instinctual feeling I got was “man, prospects are way too valuable.”
I hate this move for TBD and love it for Team Hydra. Respectively, they are the third and fourth place team. They are clinging to the last two playoff spots. I realize TBD can simply fall back on Madison Bumgarner, Jacob deGrom, Tanner Roark, et al now. But I just don’t love punting an indisputable ace and the top overall relief pitcher at this juncture of the season. Granted, RPs aren’t super valuable, but still.
I get the logic. They rode Kluber long enough to get to this point and are in great postseason position with the most points in the league, thus giving them the tie-breaker should they finish with the same record as another team. They are now handing the keys to luck and in turn, getting arguably the best prospect in baseball. But I’m not sure they got enough for handing a direct postseason competitor two players of this caliber.
One other thing: I had forgotten what the original deal TBD made to get Kluber was and when I went back and looked… my god. This trade somehow manages to make that one look even worse. And from TBD’s perspective, you could argue that since they got Kluber for essentially nothing to begin with, he was just house money anyway. Their low initial investment in Kluber does make me like this move a little more for them.
Preseason Double Stuffs sends: SP Sonny Gray ($47), 2017 4th Round Pick
Team Hydra sends: 3B/SS Ryan Mountcastle (minors), 2018 2nd Round Pick
Jordan’s thoughts: There are two clearly different schools of thought circulating around. Either you believe there is some small value in cutting a player, or you believe you get nothing when releasing a player at the end of a season. I think both camps are ultimately right. However, I believe this deal is about getting whatever you can get for a player who has already given you nothing.
Sonny Gray, as you’ll read soon by Andrew, has done poorly. Ryan Mountcastle has done alright for a 19-year-old in A-ball. I’m not impressed with this return for a pitcher who at any point could return to glory. Sure, the draft pick bump counts, but not a lot. You’re now possibly stuck keeping a 19-year-old who is not on any kind of pace to see the Major Leagues prior to age 21 for three or four seasons. By the time keeping these kinds of long shots makes sense, you’re hoping Mountcastle is ready. We shall see.
I think the better strategy for our Oreo squad here, is to hold Gray until the bitter end. If you end up cutting him, great. If he finishes strong, $49 isn’t really that unrealistic. Maybe he regains trade value in the off-season. Maybe not, and you’re out a long shot and a pick upgrade.
Andrew’s thoughts: I realize Sonny Gray has been a disaster this year and could very well just be permanently broken, but I’d rather gamble that he finds himself the rest of this season and makes keeping him a possibility and then just cut him if he doesn’t than punt him for a second round pick two drafts away.
Gray’s xFIP is only up by 0.41 and his HR/FB is more than double what it’s been in any other season, so there are some indicators that he’s just been getting the worst possible bounces. His .321 BABIP this year is .043 above his career average. His batted ball profile was always super lucky, so maybe that luck has just run out and he’s garbage now.
But let’s just say he turns a corner the rest of the year. Let’s say he starts 10 more games and averages 30+ points per start over that stretch. I’m not saying that locks him into being a keeper — he’s been so bad, it may not even move the needle — but at least you have the option. Finishing that strong could also make him worth something in trade again this off-season. I don’t necessarily think any of that is likely, but I’d rather gamble on those possibilities than on a draft pick in 2018 and a prospect three years (at least, probably) away from the big leagues who probably has a dozen or so comps sitting in free agency.
The Foundation sends: SP Chris Sale ($93), 2017 4th Round Pick, 2017 3rd Round Pick
Who’s Your Haddy? sends: SP Alex Reyes (minors), LF/CF/RF Nick Plummer (minors), 2017 1st Round Pick, 2018 1st Round Pick
Andrew’s thoughts: At first glance, I really, really like this deal from the perspective of both teams.
To be clear, Chris Sale is the only piece The Foundation is sending away here. Third and fourth round picks are just whatever. To me, future draft picks that late are only a slight tick above nothing. They’re what you ship to someone if you need to buy a seventh start or what you ask for if you’re waffling about whether or not to cut a player. Or, in this case, they’re what you kick back to the team giving up first round picks to be a fair trade partner.
For Haddy, acquiring Sale this late in the season gives him not just a force at the front of his rotation to maybe go from an unexpected 9-7 to a playoff spot, but it also gives him a big time asset that he can keep. Just like I said with the recent Max Scherzer trade, I don’t believe this is a rental by any means. Earlier this year, Haddy swung a deal that effectively downgraded from Mookie Betts to AJ Pollock in 2017, while also freeing up $53. He doesn’t have a ton of easy cuts on his roster, but I think if you couple that savings with cutting someone like $30 Adrian Gonzalez or $32 Todd Frazier and then keeping Sale, you’re coming out ahead. So it’s a win-now move and sort of a long play into next year.
Let’s be clear though: Sale has some concerns. And I don’t mean his being a sociopath. His strikeouts are way down. Like, way down. He’s striking out three fewer hitters per nine innings than he did last year. He and the White Sox have been preaching a “pitch to contact” philosophy, but who knows if that’s just dancing around decreased performance. His walks are also up slightly, his home runs are up, and his BABIP is the best it’s ever been, so in some ways he’s been lucky. His FIP has gone from 2.73 last year to 3.69 and his xFIP from 2.60 to 3.74. He’s still Chris Sale. He’s still really good. He’s averaging almost 35 points a start. I’m just saying… his profile has some warts this year.
Meanwhile, for The Foundation, this move turns a lot of gears. The draft picks are fine. Haddy’s pick currently projects to be 10th overall and theoretically his team should improve, so that’s likely a pick in the 10-12 range. All first round picks are not created equal, of course, so while “omg a 1st round pick!” is cool, that really comes out to the 10th- or 12th-best prospect that is several years away from reaching the big leagues. The one in 2018 is nice too. Picks are just really hard to gauge, but for me personally, I’d always rather have them than not and they’re something I like to try to upgrade when possible. I think if you’re trading a player of Sale’s caliber, you need to recoup as much value as possible, and wildcard draft picks help accomplish that.
The headliner though is obviously Cardinals pitching prospect Alex Reyes. I think you could easily make the case that he’s better than Tyler Glasnow, the headline piece for Scherzer, and maybe even the second best pitching prospect in baseball behind Lucas Giolito. Some might even debate that. Reyes projects to be really, really good. And as a bonus, he’ll get to pitch in a park that does a good job suppressing home runs for a team that is always competitive.
But here’s the other thing moving Sale does: it opens up the space to keep $111 Bryce Harper, $90 Paul Goldschmidt, and $59 Jon Lester. Or anyone, really. One swift trade opened up a bunch of space. And yeah, he could have just held Sale until the off-season and explored something else to free up space, but I think now was the time to strike if you can land a prospect like Reyes and some picks to tinker around with.