Andrew’s thoughts: When this trade first popped up I thought, “dear God, please tell me this is not the package Ferns is going to pay down JD’s entire salary for.” But guess what? It is!
I love, conceptually, a team in a punt year offering to cover a star player’s entire salary in a deal. I think its a creative way of extracting max value, and in this case, potential long-term value for a guy that, at least in 2018, doesn’t really matter if he’s there or not. And this is definitely one of those trades where, a year from now, everything I’m about to say could look very, very stupid. But… I don’t think these players are a compelling return at all for a free year of JD Martinez.
Martinez is pretty much a lock to be an elite hitter. He’s had some injury issues and maybe his skills won’t hold up as he slinks into his 30’s, but a single season of an elite player where someone else pays the salary is enormously valuable. Like, super super valuable. I believe he outproduced Paul Goldschmidt on a Pt/PA basis last year. So just imagine your team and your budget, but with Goldschmidt magically on it at zero penalty. I don’t think his free agency limbo matters, because his power translates to any park. I don’t worry as much about health or age, because the production is of zero question, and production is what matters.
I don’t think Lewis Brinson, who just got handed a full-time job but also a ballpark downgrade in Miami, is that interesting. Scouts like his power potential, but the balls are juiced. Everyone has the potential to hit homers. He’s got 60-grade speed, but SBs aren’t that valuable. I know he’s one of those toolsy, if-it-all-comes-together upside guys and he’s been ranked highly on all the lists, but I just can’t get overly excited about him. And how much of his list pedigree is defense-based? He’s got great defensive scouting grades. Again, he could blow up and I could look dumb. Of course, if he blows up in 2018, well, then his $1 season will have had very little impact for you because you’re punting and he’ll cost a few bucks more the following year (not enough for it to matter probably, but still). His projections currently peg him as a below average outfielder in 2018, which is fine, he’s a prospect, the projections rarely love them. He’s just not a prospect I’m crazy about. I also think, as many injury concerns as you may have about JD, Brinson’s got them too. At least JD can blame his on age.
Austin Hays is a guy I like, but he’s actually very similar to Brinson except he gets to hit in a friendly park. And he’s not cost controlled which, starting with a $5 salary, probably doesn’t matter much. Maybe he gets hit hard with greed next year. Who cares? I think I also may have talked myself into Hays because he’s an Oriole and I want to believe in the Orioles’ ability to occasionally develop a good prospect. I wonder if he’s going to get on base enough to provide a safe floor. He doesn’t walk at all, even in the minors, and seems like a guy that could strikeout a bunch. So really, the two cornerstone pieces of this deal — and I’d argue a team paying you to take JD for a year is maybe the most valuable singular asset ever traded — are very, very high risk. Like, all ceiling, no floor, and the ceiling is questionable in an offensive environment where both guys’ calling card tools are shared by anyone who can figure out launch angles.
The pitchers are, to me, meh. I’m a fan of Brandon Woodruff, picked him up in another league and felt like he had value, but he’s also a pitcher in Milwaukee. The home park could be an obstacle and frankly, I’m not even sure he’s got a rotation spot locked up. Roster Resource currently says he’s out. The Brewers are expected to add a pitcher. I mean… is Woodruff a swing man? Does he come out of the bullpen? I don’t know. Adrian Morejon, meanwhile, is a guy I know very little about. He’s on lists. He’s also not even 19-years-old yet and a pitcher. Dude doesn’t have 30 innings at A-level ball yet. I just don’t see it.
For an asset as valuable as $0 JD, I just don’t want every single asset coming my way to have this many question marks. I think if there’s no budget involved here, it looks a lot better, because it gives the Double Stuffs some options to add talent via auction or trade for an overpriced player before then and still gives them the lottery tickets.
Reading back over this, I feel bad for being so negative. I don’t think I really dislike the guys Ferns got back as much as it probably sounds. I kinda hope someone digs up this review in a year and we can all laugh at how stupid I was. I just don’t think this package is enough. If its me, Eloy Jimenez is in it as well, or no deal. I’m getting an unquestioned elite fantasy prospect back. I probably even want a little more still. I traded Aaron Judge (to be fair, I shopped him and no one wanted him!) for Matt Holliday last year. So eh, what the hell do I know?
Hustle’s Toxic $.02
I’d like to say I admire Ferns for being one of the most active members of the league over this awful time of year called “the offseason”. If you think I started this by saying something nice so I could I say I don’t like the trade for him, well yeah you’re right… but it’s also true. I always respect someone putting thought into their team and actively trying to make it better and it its better to have someone reject your trade offer 71 times and throw in some counters than just let it sit there.
The trade ironically makes TBD the preseason favorite. It’s a pretty no brainer to trade 4 prospects for a paid JD Martinez, especially when they didn’t have to include their best prospect, perhaps not even 2nd or 3rd depending on your taste. Ferns was in a hurry to make the deal, but I’m not sure why, especially with the season almost 2 months away. Surely if he signs with Boston/Arizona the price goes up, if he signs with the Giants, I can’t imagine this offer not still being on the table. Paying for the contract in full, the trade doesn’t even have to be made before the Auction, you’re out the $55 either way. If Ferns knows something about JD’s health that we all don’t, kudos to him on the ultimate hustle.
As for the return? Brinson is the most attractive piece. He’s been traded 3 or 4 times in this league, 2 times in real life, and in the least attractive ballpark now. If he breaks out this year, which is possible, he’s in his 3rd mlb year next year already. The best part of having a good prospect is the upside of getting 2 amazing years for basically $1 like we will most likely see Bailey get with Bellinger. That’s not to say he wont have a lot of value if he’s good, but a chunk of it is certainly gone. Looking at Ferns roster, I think he can objectively say it might be a struggle to compete in 2019, if thats the case, that’s even more value out of Brinson (we’re also still just assuming Brinson is good and stays healthy which is no given for either). Hays being immune to walks curbs his upside, but if he hits well enough he’s a useful piece. I actually do like Woodruff a little bit, and the fact that he might not get many starts on a crowded Miluwakee team in 2018 doesn’t really hurt Ferns at all unless that happens in 2019 too. That being said, same issue with Brinson in terms of losing potentially the most profitable year or two because your team isn’t competing those years. Adrian Morejon is a guy I think may be overvalued. He will be a starter down the line (unlike all the relievers Hydra seems to be drafting), but he’s also a guy who’s upside may not worth waiting on for that long.
These are prospects and I am not a scout. The scouts get them wrong all the time and I’m willing to admit I know far less than them. I agree with Bailey saying this will be an interesting trade to look back on. They are all interesting guys and could hit.
Ultimately I do think this trade comes down to patience. Ferns wanted to get a trade JD Martinez for prospects ASAP. Meanwhile TBD put Hays/Brinson on the block all offseason long, patiently waiting until someone bite on prospects that have value, but they clearly soured on.