The Foundation sends: SP Felix Hernandez ($68), LF Alex Gordon ($17)
Hustle Loyalty Respect sends: LF Melky Cabrera ($4), LF/CF/RF Harrison Bader (minors), LF Alex Jackson (minors)
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.