Trade: TBD | Capital City Ironmen

TBD sends: C Russell Martin ($20), 2017 5th Round Pick
Capital City Ironmen send: 2017 2nd Round Pick

Andrew’s thoughts: I don’t love the $20 salary but it’s tough to argue with the consistent production of Russell Martin. Here are his ranks at the catcher position over the last six seasons, working backward from 2016: 8th, 3rd, 4th, 11th, 10th, 8th.

The catcher position sucks. Being the 10th best catcher isn’t a special accomplishment. But last year, I opted to punt the position with platoon players and free agent streamers and it was just a horrible mess.

I started Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, the White Sox tandem that had decent career platoon numbers, a combined 101 games at catcher. I figured one of them would be in the lineup every day and they’d combine to produce mediocrity which, because it cost me nothing, was fine. But the active, starting catchers in my lineup (Avila, Navarro, and random scrap heap guys) last year scored 358.15 points and averaged 2.94 per game. That’s really just embarrassing. Twenty three individual catchers scored more than that. Gary Sanchez played in just 53 games and Willson Contreras and Sandy Leon played in fewer than 80 a piece and they scored more than that. Martin was garbage all of March, April, and May (which I don’t think he’ll do again and which I think suppressed some of his perceived value right now) and still totaled 628.4 points. He outscored my catchers by 270.25 net points.

So, for me, it’s pretty much that simple. I’ve got cap room to spare. I’ve still got four of the top-11 minor league draft picks, and my rankings start to feel really boring around the 15th spot anyway.

Jordan’s thoughts: C

Trade: Senior Squids | Hustle Loyalty Respect

Senior Squids sends: SP Matt Garza (FA), SP Christian Friedrich (SP)
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: RP Tony Zych (FA)

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.

Jordan’s thoughts: I kind of thought we were over the Jesus Sucre trades, but then it was found out that Sucre is actually also Tony Zych.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | TBD

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: C Russell Martin ($18), 2018 1st Round Draft Pick
TBD sends: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu ($7)

Andrew’s thoughts: I think Martin-for-Ryu straight up is justifiable. Since acquiring Martin on June 14, he has scored a total of 64.1 points (9.16 pts/game) while being in Dusty’s starting lineup seven times. He had a .373 wOBA in June. That’s terrific production for a catcher. But Dusty’s just 4-8 overall, likely won’t make the playoffs, and has a hugely expensive pitching staff. So selling off a catcher he wasn’t likely going to be able to keep for an inexpensive pitcher isn’t awful. Of course, having to start Sandy Leon (lifetime .263 wOBA; .524 wOBA in 35 PAs this year though!) going forward is going to suck, probably.

Ryu at $7 seems like a great gamble to me. He’s got a fantastic track record. His career FIP is 2.97, xFIP is 3.27, he gives up a paltry 0.60 homers per nine, and strikes out 7.66 per nine innings. He’s pretty close to being a viable ace of staff and at worse is a SP2. He also hasn’t pitched since 2014, though he’s throwing rehab starts now, so there’s a ton of risk here. I’m not sure that his odds of returning to form are better than his odds of being a middling starter due simply to the effect of injury. But given Dusty has a ton of expensive pitchers and likely won’t be able to keep them all, I like the dice roll.

TBD didn’t really need a catcher, per say, since they have Matt Wieters there. But Wieters gets a lot of regular rest because of the brittle, almost tissue paper-like composition of his bones, tendons, and muscles, and so Martin provides a great option when Wieters rests. And with a rotation headed by Madison Bumgarner, Corey Kluber, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Wright, there would seem to be a bit less reward to having Ryu to offset the risk than there might be for some other teams. Though, like the Oysters, keeping those pitchers beyond this year could be a tight fit and having Ryu as a cheaper alternative could have been a helpful fallback.

My only real beef with this trade is punting the top-16 pick in 2018. Granted, that is two drafts away and anyone you pick is likely to be two or more years from hitting the majors (so you’re looking at an asset maybe four years off?), but still. A second or even a third rounder was probably enough to plug any perceived gap here between pitcher and catcher. Maybe two bucks at auction next year covers it. I mean, I would totally trade a first round pick for a $7 Ryu, but I think I want to see him come back and string together a few good starts first. Yeah, now may be the last opportunity to get your foot in the door on him (if he comes back and pitches to his career averages, he’s suddenly a super commodity), but it could just as easily be the calm before the storm.

Dusty has also now exhausted all his first and second round picks in 2017 and 2018, and has previously sold off all of his worthwhile prospects. This is a system headed by… Touki Toussaint? Maybe he can sell off some parts as the season winds down to replenish, but it really feels like a buyer’s market to me. Logically, yeah, you should get a haul for one of his pricey pitchers if he doesn’t think he can finagle the cap to keep. But there hasn’t been much trade action at all, which suggests to me teams have become more hesitant to pay multiple big time assets for upgrades.

Trade: Rocky Mtn Oysters | Senior Squids

Rocky Mtn Oysters sends: SP Mike Minor (FA), SP Matt Garza (FA)
Senior Squids sends: C Russell Martin ($18)

Jordan’s thoughts: For the Squids this is a pretty low risk sell. Martin is likely not worth $10 next year, let alone $20. I don’t love either pitcher, but if either grow back into some version of decent, well its worth the risk for a team that’s bottoming out.

Andrew’s thoughts: It wasn’t that long ago I remember Squids marketing Russell Martin as available but “expensive,” and now here he gets flipped for rotation filler. Martin’s numbers look awful overall, but he’s averaged 5.06 points per game over the last 30 days and 6.55/game over the last three weeks. So basically, he’s perfectly fine, the slow start was a fluke, and he’ll probably be something like a top-5 or 10 catcher going forward (he finished 3rd overall in 2015 and 4th in 2014). If you’re the Oysters and can acquire that for wildcard free agent pick-ups, especially given how stacked his rotation is, it’s a great move.

Matt Garza returns from the DL today and has been hit or miss throughout his career. If he pitches to his career averages, he’s roughly league average. Steamer says he’ll be pretty bad. For $5 starting in 2017, he’s not a bad guy to roster to at least see what happens. At the same time, he’s probably not worth punting a top-5 or so rest of season player at their respective position for either. Mike Minor was good in 2011 and 2013.

Of note: Senior Squids have completed seven trades now and five have been with the Rocky Mtn Oysters. Hmm…