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.