Crash Course: Trade Deadline Round-Up, Full Prospect Analysis

The Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline has come and passed. Wanna refresh your memory on what went down, and learn more about the prospects sent from club to club? Let’s begin.

Andre Ethier Retires

Back in November, it was announced that Andre Ethier would retire. Unfortunately, the report turned out to be false, but that was not announced until after I had written an article about it. Seeing as how Either has not spent any time in affiliated ball since the last article’s publishing, you can read on his retirement here.

The Brewers Acquire Joakim Soria from the White Sox

The Brewers acquired Joakim Soria and $1,000,000 from the White Sox in exchange for a pair of prospects: left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros and right-handed pitcher Wilber Perez.

In Soria, the Brewers acquire a very good reliever with a seemingly no-brainer team option for 2019. The 34-year old reliever had posted a 2.56 ERA with a 2.15 FIP over 38.2 innings pitched. He will undoubtedly serve as a huge boost to an already strong reilef corps, and at a rather light cost.

While Medieros was a first round pick, who is having a nice year with a 3.14 ERA over 103.1 inning pitched, his peripherals suggest that he has been rather fortunately with his 4.17 FIP. While he has been pitching as a starter for the most part, I believe he ultimately winds up in the bullpen. I would place his ceiling as a high leverage reliever, but ultimately believe that he winds us as a high-octane taxi squad reliever showing flashes of dominance, but struggling with his control. I would place his ETA at around mid to late 2019.

Perez, 20-years old, is currently working as a starter in rookie ball. While he is currently a lottery ticket, he’s a guy to keep an eye on and was likely the key-note piece that got Hahn to pull the trigger. The young righty has posted a strong 2.01 ERA over 40.1 innings pitched to go along with exceptional peripherals including 2.44 FIP, a 10.49 K/9, a 2.9 BB/9 and no home runs allowed. While I’m not going to attempt to place a ceiling or a floor on the kid over a 40 inning showing, he’s certainly an intriguing piece.

For the time being, I would give the Brewers the edge, but that could shift depending on the performance of Perez. While he is a lottery ticket at this time, he has the potential to blossom into quite the prospect. Nevertheless, Soria, as a controllable and reliable reliever may well be worth the cost.

The Astros Acquire Martin Maldonado

While it had long been speculated that the Astros could acquire a controllable catcher, they decided to grab the renal defensive wizard Martin Maldonado from the division rival Angels in exchange for left-handed pitcher Patrick Sandoval and $250,000 in international bonus money.

Personally, I believe that the Astros should have done more to bolster their catcher corps for the long-term, with Brian McCann and Evan Gattis on the way out. Maldonado will certainly help the Astros out defensively, but he struggles with the bat as he slashed just .223/.284/.332 with five home runs and will become a free agent at season’s end. I do believe, however, the Astros got a fair deal here.

Sandoval is a rising left-handed prospect who has really found himself this season posting a very strong 2.56 ERA over 88 innings walking just 1.5 per nine with 9.9 strikeouts. While he has been used as both a starter and a reliever, I could see him pitching in a fourth starter capacity in the future. While he is still 21-years old, he has already reached Class A Advanced and could be in the major leagues by 2020. If he is able to continue what has helped him this season, he is definitely a major leaguer, but that is not a guarantee based on his past struggles.

Regarding the money, it makes sense as the Angels spent a lot of international bonus money for the 2018-19 period in signing Kevin Maitan following the scandal in Atlanta. This gives them a bit more room to operate.

This is a fair deal for both sides. While I would have gone for a more controllable option behind the plate, it works for the price. Maldonado will, without a doubt bring some value defensively.

The Yankees Acquire J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays

The Yankees and Jays made a very nice need based swap on Thursday as New York traded a pair of players without paths to the major leagues: Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays in exchange for rental starter J.A. Happ.

This is a rather straight forward deal. Happ’s peripheral statistics have been in line with what we are used to since his resurgence with the Pirates a few years ago. I would anticipate that 4.18 ERA falling closer to the 3.85 FIP, which is, in fact, lower than it was during his Cy-Young quality season back in 2016. He adds some much needed stability to the Yankees rotation, as they continue to play their way to a playoff berth.

McKinney, acquired in the Aroldis Chapman trade has struggled with making contact in Triple-A this season. Nevertheless, he has continued to exhibit very strong plate discipline and power, posting an OPS of .786 with 13 home runs and an isolated on base percentage .081. One thing to pay attention to is the fact that he’s riding a rough .246 BABip. There’s no reason that the 23-year old can’t be a decent major leaguer, although his ceiling could be limited to that of a second division regular.

As for Drury, he will finally get the playing time that he deserves. Acquired by the Yankees in an ill-fated three-team deal with the Rays and the Diamondbacks, he had spent the majority of the season in Triple-A slashing .293/.403/.444 over 258 plate appearances. He will serve as the bridge between Josh Donaldson and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. whose call-up will probably have him moved to second base.

While the Yankees gave up a lot of talent, Happ did not come at a high cost to the them, as neither guy had a place on the roster. Meanwhile, the Jays got a very strong return for a player who would have departed for nothing in a few months. The real winner of this trade, however, is not either of these teams, it’s Brandon Drury. Check out last month’s real beneficiaries of trades to get a better idea as to what his situation had been in New York.

The Braves Acquire Jonny Venters from The Rays

This was a very simple, no risk deal for either club. The Braves bolstered their bullpen with Jonny Venters, while the Rays received $250,000 in International Bonus Pool Space. Venters would have departed Tampa for no compensation at season’s end, and the Braves have no use for bonus pool space, as they are restricted in signing international amateurs as a result of last year’s scandal.

This will be a homecoming of sorts for Venters who has posted a very solid 3.45 ERA over 16.1 innings. The most astounding thing about Venters is the fact that he hadn’t pitched since 2012 after undergoing multiple Tommy John surgeries, and returned to find success over half a decade later. To give you some context, players who were drafted that season, that have yet to be placed on a 40-man roster, will be eligible for minor league free agency this offseason, as a six-year minor league free agent.

Venters will simply provide the Braves with some middle relief depth as they look to lock down a playoff spot.

The Mariners Acquire Sam Tuivailala

The Mariners grabbed 25-year old righty reliever Sam Tuivailala from the Cardinals in exchange for prospect Seth Elledge.

The Mariners, a team that lacks much in terms of a farm system, needed to be creative to make improvements, and as always Dealin’ DiPoto didn’t disappoint. So far, this is my favorite buyer deal of the summer. Tuivilala is controlled through 2022, and has been very good for the Cardinals posting a 3.65 ERA over 98.1 innings at the major league level. While he’s not a closer, or even a set-up man, he’s a very serviceable middle reliever who can reliable eat innings and help the Mariners win.

As for the return, Elledge is a very nice relief prospect, with a 1.17 ERA over 38.2 innings pitched at Class A Advanced. He does a nice job inducing weak contact and could be among the first players from the 2017 draft to reach the majors. While I typically don’t love the idea of trading for a single relief prospect, Elledge is the type that seems very likely to make it to the majors with a high ceiling.

I give the edge to the Mariners here. While Elledge is a very strong relief prospect, he is still a prospect. The Mariners got a controllable, young and proven major league reliever in exchange for a player, who has a good chance to be a good reliever. While the deal makes sense for the Cardinals, I am a bit shocked that they were unable to get more for the 25-year old, based on his youth, team control and past major league success. That’s not to say it’s a bad deal, as Elledge could very well make it to the major over the next year and produce, but it’s risky to trade a major leaguer with six years of team control for a single relief prospect.

The Cubs Acquire Cole Hamels

The Cubs got themselves another pitcher from the Rangers in Cole Hamels in exchange for reliever Eddie Butler, Rollie Lacy and a player to be named later. They will take on $5 million, with the Rangers paying the remainder of the $13.67m remaining on his deal.

This move does a fantastic job of solidifying a rotation that has been one of the best in the game regardless of the struggles of Yu DarvishJon Lester, Mike Montgomery, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana have all been exceptional, while Tyler Chatwood will move to the bullpen to accommodate the move. While Hamels has struggled this season, posting a 4.72 ERA over 114 innings pitched with an even more ghastly 5.20 FIP, he’s a veteran with a significant amount of post season experience who will be helpful down the stretch for the still relatively young Cubs roster.

Lacy was the main piece to the return. The 23-year old righty starter had been very good in Class A this season posting a 2.02 ERA with a 2.87 FIP over 71.1 innings. While he struggled over his first nine innings in Class A Advanced, it’s not enough of a sample size to put any stock into. He’s a groundball wizard with excellent control and looks to me like a very nice fourth starter. Over his time in Class A, he posted a 62.1% groundball percentage and a 2.52 BB/9 next to a 10.6 HR/9. While many prospect indicators see him as an up-and-down arm, I don’t see any reason he can’t make it to the majors with the ability to induce groundballs and control it like he is able to. He’s a very nice low-key addition who could turn into more.

Butler seems to me like more of a throw in arm with the ability to eat innings and induce groundballs through the potentially lengthy rebuild and could even get a shot to start a few games or so. Over 18.2 innings pitched this season, he has posted a 3.86 ERA with a 3.92 FIP and a 57.6% groundball rate. At the very least, he’s a replacement level innings eater who could be more if given a proper opportunity.

This is the type of deal where there is no winner or loser. The deal wasn’t an overpay on either side, the Cubs received a veteran rotation depth piece with postseason experience and didn’t have to eat much money, while the Rangers received a few chips as compensation for a guy who would have otherwise left for nothing. Based on the fact that I’m a bit higher on Lacy than most, I would give Texas a slight edge.

The Diamondbacks Acquire Eduardo Escobar

While the Mariners got the best “buyer” deal thus far this season, the Twins got the best seller deal for Eduardo Escobar as they got a trio of prospects in outfielder Ernie De La Trinidad, pitcher Jhoan Duran and outfielder Gabriel Maciel.

Starting with the Diamondbacks end of the deal, Eduardo Escobar is in the midst of a breakout season, as he had slashed .274/.338/.514 for the Twins over 408 plate appearances while hitting 15 home runs. While his .327 BABip suggests that this type of production is sustainable, the most impressive statistic from this season is the 8.0% increase in hard contact. This says to me that this type of production could be here to stay. While an improvement in walk rate would certainly help his case, the fact that he plays a premium position defensively will help him on the free agent market.

While the trio of prospects heading to Minnesota are all quite far away, I am exceptionally fond of Gabriel Maciel. Prior to the season, I ranked Maciel fifth among Diamondbacks’ farmhands, and this is what I had to say:

Maciel has flown under the radar for a year or so now, but he deserves to be much higher than the usual 10-20 rating that he gets. He’s a leadoff hitter in the making with game changing speed, a plus glove, and while he may not offer much in terms of power, he can hit .310/.370/.400 with 40 stolen bases and Gold Glove level defense in left field.  

I think Maciel is an all-star waiting to happen. While his OPS is rather low, it is mainly based on his relatively lack of power, but remember he’s just 19 years old and weighs just 175 at the moment. I expect him to fill out a bit over the next few years and bring his meager 30 power scouting grade up to a 45, which could make him an above average to well above average major league regular. Maciel is right up there with LaMonte Wade and Domingo Acevedo in the prospects that are at the top of my personal list. We’ll see another one of those players within the top ten in analysis of another trade that went down.

As for the other two prospects, Duran is a big kid who has a huge fastball, but has struggled in affiliated ball. While he’s still just 20, he’s now been in the league since 2015 and has yet to really show signs of being a legitimate major leaguer. At this point in time, I see him as a high octane taxi-sqaud guy if he breaks into the major leagues, but he has shown signs of a possible breakout including proportional strikeout to walk rates and solid ground ball numbers. He’s a lottery ticket.

As for the third kid, Ernie de la Trinidad is a very underrated prospect with a nice hit tool and some very good plate discipline. He doesn’t strikeout much and walks a lot. He also brings with him a very nice combination of power and speed. While he could very well stall out once he hits the upper levels of the minor leagues based on a high, although not exorbitant BABip, he’s a promising outfielder with a high ceiling. He has been assigned to Class A Advanced by the Twins for his first real test, which could be telling as to what type of player he could be.

With A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin on their way out at the end of the season, Mike Hazen and co. are really pushing the pedal down to the floor against the Dodgers. While people bash the Diamondbacks’ farm system, it’s actually one of the most underrated pipeline’s in the game. While I am a huge fan of Maciel, I believe that going for it this season is the correct plan of action for the Snakes, and if they can do so without sacrificing their top chips that are closer to the majors, all the better. These chips that I am referring to, of course, are Jon Duplantier, Marcus Wilson, Pavin Smith, Taylor Widener, Domingo Leyba and their pair of catchers Daulton Varsho and Dominic Miroglio.

As I already stated, I love the deal for the Twins. Maciel is a player that could be a top-100 prospect by mid-season next year, de la Trinidad could emerge even sooner, while Duran is a nice lottery ticket. For an organization that has seen a lot of their prospects fizzle out, so to speak, this is a nice move.

The Phillies Acquire Asdrubal Cabrera

In a one-for-one swap, the NL-East division rivals swapped infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and pitcher Franklyn Kilome.

Cabrera is a good fit for the Phillies. He’s a rental infielder with a decent glove, experience at short, power and strong contact ability. He helps fortify the Phillies main position of weakness, shortstop, while adding some versatility into the line-up as a switch hitter. While he doesn’t walk as much as I would like to see, his .306 BABip is encouraging. Normalizing his batting average with a league average BABip of .300, he’s still hitting .268/.320/.477 which remains above average. He does the job of helping the win now Phillies down the stretch without blocking either Scott Kingery or J.P. Crawford in the long-term.

If you recall, I mentioned that there was another prospect involved in a trade that I was very high on following my description of Maciel. Kilome has been among my favorite minor leaguers since I first stumbled upon his profile about three years ago. Kilome has found some difficulty for the first time in his young career in his first full showing at Double-A posting a 4.24 ERA over 102 innings walking 51 to just 83 strikeouts, but remember, he was a consensus top-100 prospect at the beginning of the season. Based on his K:BB numbers and the fact that he really only has two pitches (as his change is mediocre), I would bet against him remaining in the rotation, but with a pair of plus pitches in his curve and fastball, he looks like a very legitimate high leverage relief arm who could be an all-star by 2020. The Mets did very well to cash in on an impending free agent in the midst of a great season.

The deal fills a need for the Phillies, but I believe that the cost was a bit high. While many prospect evaluators have been down on Kilome based on this season, I think that we should give him a shot to get accustomed to Double-A in a starter capacity or to make it as a reliever before labeling him a bust based on his body of work throughout his career. I do, however, give a lot of credit to Matt Klentak and co. for taking the necessary steps to show the world that the Phillies are back and ready to win.

The Brewers Acquire Mike Moustakas

With Manny Machado and Asdrubal Cabrera off of the board, the infield needy Brewers needed to make a move, therefore, they decided to bring in Mike Moustakas in exchange for Jorge Lopez and Brett Phillips.

To accommodate this acquisition, Travis Shaw moved to second base while Moustakas will play third base. After finding difficulty finding a team over the offseason, Moustakas has hit as he was expected to hit slashing .249/.309/.468 with 20 home runs. He will add something of a boost to an infield that has struggled offensively over the past few weeks, but I don’t love the fit overall. Personally, I believe that the Brewers should have acquired a middle infielder, as there were other options available, that probably would have cost less.

The prospect haul that the Royals brought in was quite impressive. The 24-year old outfielder Brett Phillips has struggled this season, but it’s nott something that should be unexpected based on the utter lack of opportunity or path to the major leagues that he had. Phillips reminds me a lot of Shane Victorino in that he has the tools to be a leadoff hitter, and has a very similar personality that would make him very popular among fans and in clubhouses. He has excellent speed and solid power potential, and gives the Royals a major league ready young starter.

As for Lopez, the 25-year relief prospect has great stuff, but lacks control. He has a great curve and a decent change with a fastball that can make it up to the mid-90’s. I see him as a high-octane taxi squader based on the control issues, but a set-up job isn’t out of the question. He’s a guy who, what you see is what you get.

I think the Royals cleaned up on this deal, grabbing two major league ready players, including Phillips who has all-star upside, in exchange for a guy who couldn’t land a deal just five to six months ago. Personally, the situation reminds me of when the Dodgers were planning on trading Jose De Leon for Brian Dozier, but wound up sending the same return to Tampa for Logan Forsythe. While there was no clear playing time for Phillips, the Brewers have other needs where they could have used him as a chip to acquire a more controllable piece. He’s a very good player who carried a lot of value. I believe they gave up too much to acquire a power hitting third baseman in a market where power hitters aren’t very expensive.

The Yankees and Cardinals Make a Minor Swap

The Yankees acquired first baseman Luke Voit and $1,000,000 in International Bonus Money from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovany Gallegos.

The Yankees have spent a lot of time this deadline season clearing 40-man roster spots and grabbing as much international bonus space as they can in order to secure the multiple signings that they have in place. As their acquisition in Voit, he gives them an upgrade over Tyler Austin as the taxi squad first base option to fill in for Greg Bird when necessary. While Voit hasn’t seen much time in the majors, he has slashed a robust .300/.392/.508 with ten homers. He should see some time with the Yanks in the near future.

As for the pair of relievers acquired by the Cardinals, Shreve, a lefty, hasn’t been very good this season posting a 4.26 ERA over 38 innings out of the Yankees bullpen with peripherals that suggest that even that mark was the result of good fortune (4.98 FIP). The lefty is currently of service time to be eligible for arbitration and is currently on a deal worth $825k while remaining under team control through 2021. He’s an innings eater for the Red Birds, as they look as if they will be embarking on something of a rebuild.

As for Gallegos, he’s a control oriented taxi guy with the ceiling of a low-set up. While he has performed rather well in Triple-A (3.90 ERA, 1.68 FIP) while controlling the ball well, his major league numbers have been rather pedestrian. He brings with him a nice curve and an average change as well as a fastball that averages in the mid-90’s. While he’s still a prospect, he’s actually 26-years old and will turn 27 in two weeks.

The Yankees take the clear victory in this deal, in my eyes. They acquired a kid who has the potential to be a major league regular first baseman as well as international bonus money in exchange for a pair of low leverage relievers. Furthermore, they gained a pair of 40-man roster spots and saved a bit of money on Shreve. Neither of these guys seem likely to bring a ton of value to the Cardinals other than some low leverage innings eaten.

The Braves Acquire Brad Brach

Despite his lackluster season, the Orioles were able to get something in exchange for Brad Brach, as they Braves sent over $250k in international bonus pool space.

While there’s not a ton to dissect in this deal, the Braves acquire a struggling and rather expensive ($5.17m) rental reliever in what essentially amounts to nothing for the Braves, as they couldn’t spend on the international market, as mentioned in the Venters deal analysis. It’s not a bad gamble for the Braves as Brach was effective as recently as last season, and had established himself as one of the best set-up men in the league.

While I’m a bit surprised that the O’s weren’t able to secure any more for a player who has been worth 6.2 bWAR over the past four seasons as a reliever, but nevertheless, they were able to get something for him despite his struggles. Whats more interesting is the fact that the O’s actually acquired international pool space, rather than trading it. It’s an interesting change in philosophy.

This is a rather low risk move for both sides, as nobody gave up too much. I would give the Braves the edge here simply seeing as how I don’t see how great the O’s international scouting department could be at this point seeing as how they have been dormant on the market for the past few seasons, but it’ll be an interesting storyline to watch.

Astros and Jays Swap High Upside Reliever

The Astros brought in suspended closer Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays in exchange for struggling former closer Ken Giles and a pair of pitching prospects Hector Perez and David Paulino.

First of all, I’m going to be the one to say it: Very smart move by the Astros buying low on an exceptionally talented reliever who has seen his stock take a hit due to off the field issues. At the end of the day, this is an excellent baseball move and one that will help them down the stretch. I take an issue with everybody giving the Astros’ “D” or “F” ratings for their deadline based off of this move, which undoubtedly makes them better both now and over the next few seasons. While I understand the situation, remember that the Yankees did the same thing with Aroldis Chapman in what has proven to be one of the smartest moves in recent history.

On the field, the defending World Series champions are getting a 23-year old reliever with two seasons of team control beyond 2018 and a career 2.87 ERA over 223 innings pitched while exhibiting elite control (1.6 BB/9) and strong strikeout numbers (10.2 K/9). He is eligible to return from his suspension on Saturday and will immediately bring with him some much needed stability in the Astros’ pen. Remember, the Yankees took a chance on a beleaguered reliever in Aroldis Chapman just a few years ago, and it has been a major reason for their success, as they acquired Gleyber Torres, one of the pieces to acquire J.A. Happ, and not to mention the foundation to re-sign one of the best closers of our generation.

As for the return, the Blue Jays received a high-upside reliever in Ken Giles, who comes with slightly less baggage, as he comes with some personality flaws, having multiple outbursts including swearing at manager A.J. Hinch and infamously punching himself in the face. He has struggled on the mound posting a 4.99 ERA, despite strong peripherals suggesting he has been the victim of bad fortune, with a 2.28 FIP and a 0.9 BB/9.  He’s not a bad gamble for the Jays, as he could be a change of scenery candidate. I would fully expect the Jays to tender him a contract this offseason to give him a shot to redeem himself.

As for the minor leaguers in the deal, David Paulino is the big name. Just a year or so ago, Paulino was one of the best prospects in the game, but his stock has fallen after a suspension last season, and recent poor performance. Personally, I would attribute some of that performance to his future uncertain based on the lack of space on the Astros’ active roster. He brings with him a great heater which lands in the upper 90’s with a pair of plus secondaries: a curve and a changeup. He then ties all of that together with excellent control. Based on talent alone, we’re looking at a two or a three, but there are certainly durability issues that come into play here. Seeing as how he has three plus pitchers (and a slider that isn’t actually that bad), we could be looking at a right-handed Andrew Miller type reliever.

As for the 22-year old Perez, he’s currently pitching as a swing in Double-A. He has solid velocity, but struggles mightily with his control. He has all of the makings of a high-octane taxi-squad reliever. I would expect him to face some challenge in the upper levels of the minor leagues based on his control.

At the end of the day, I give the Astros the edge here based on the fact that what they gave up didn’t seem likely to produce for Houston. They did an excellent job picking out a player who they could acquire well-below market value. Furthermore, Osuna will remain under team control through 2020. To explain the text in boldface, there was no-doubt talent included in the package, but none of those players were going to have a significant impact for the Astros simply based on the fact that they had fallen out of favor with the organization for different reasons.

I also give credit to Mark Shapiro and co. on getting a good package back on Osuna, and not settling on middling prospects as the Reds did with Chapman. All-in-all, this is a deal of fresh starts. I get the feeling that all of these players will help their new organizations.

The Mariners Acquire Zach Duke, Adam Warren

The Mariners continued to bolster their bullpen in a pair of swaps which saw Adam Warren come over from the Yankees in exchange for International Bonus Pool Space, and Zach Duke join the M’s from Minnesota in exchange for Chase De Jong and Ryan Costello

These deals don’t bring with them a lot of depth. Warren simply became expendable for the Yankees after they had made additions to their pitching staff, adding Zach Britton and J.A. Happ, which moved Sonny Gray to the bullpen. They simply didn’t have to room and figured that they could get something out of him. Good job by the Mariners identifying a productive player who could be had for such a light relative cost.

As for the Duke deal, the Mariners acquire a rental reliever with an option to brings in some left-handed depth, which they had been lacking. While Duke is nothing special, 4.03 ERA while pitching chiefly in situational spots (38 innings pitched compared to 47 games). He brings the Mariners some experience and stability in a bullpen that has been good, but not great.

As for the Twins half of the deal, they got what should have been expected. De Jong is a 24-year old who they acquired after he was placed in DFA limbo by the Dodgers before the 2017 season. He posted a 5.99 ERA between Double and Triple-A last season over 112.2 innings pitched and a 4.05 ERA between Double and Triple-A over 124.1 innings pitched this season. He will be out of options next season, therefore, I would anticipate his stay on the Twins 40-man roster being something of a brief one. He seems likely to see some time on the active roster as a long reliever, but should be a minor league innings eater.

Costello is the real prize for the Twins, as he has a career .285/.380/.526 line for his career after being selected in the 31st round of the 2017 draft. He brings with him power, plate discipline, and a decent hit tool overall from the left-side. While he is limited defensively, I see his bat being enough to land him a job in the major leagues. While he may not be a prolific talent, he’s certainly underrated and looks to me like a .230/.325/.470 hitter in the majors with 30 home run potential. That gives him a well-above average .795 OPS.

None of these deals brings with them enough magnitude to negatively impact either of these organizations, although, I will give the Twins a slight edge on the Duke deal seeing as how I absolutely love Costello’s bat. The Warren deal, meanwhile, was an excellent deal from both sides of the table, as the Yankees were able to get value for a guy who they didn’t have room for, while the Mariners took advantage of a talent surplus in New York.

The Yankees and Twins Swap Lynn, Austin

The Yankees grabbed struggling starter Lance Lynn from the Twins in exchange for Tyler Austin and Luis Rijo.

First of all, the fact that the Twins got anything back for Lynn, let alone a major leaguer, is shocking seeing as how Lynn had posted a 5.10 ERA over 102.1 innings pitched for them.

Austin, now 26, had once been a top prospect, faded a bit, and then turned out to be a decent major league bench bat capably holding down first base while Greg Bird was down. While he doesn’t do anything particularly well, he’s serviceable across the board and will eat up at bats for the Twins this season while giving them an immediate back-up plan for the likely departing Joe Mauer.

As for Rijo, he’s a finesse righty in rookie ball with excellent control. The 19-year old is currently pitching in a swing capacity, but seems likely to convert to relief down the line. I can’t judge him accurately just yet, but based on his career .255 BAa, I would imagine he gets hit rather hard in the upper levels. Nevertheless, he’s still young enough to make improvements and looks like a decent lottery ticket.

This acquisition looks somewhat superfluous for the Yankees, as they already have, what I would consider to be the best pitching staff in the major leagues. The benefit of having veteran long relief option with postseason experience is clear, but with so much talent on the roster, is it really necessary?  I definitely like the Twins side of this deal a bit better, as I didn’t expect that they would be able to get anything back for Lynn, who has been a disaster this season.

Nevertheless, seeing how it’s the Yankees, I would imagine Lynn could become a Cy-Young contender by the end of the season.

The Rays Acquire Tommy Pham

The Cardinals decided that it was time to let Harrison Bader get the lion’s share of the playing time, and traded 30-year old Tommy Pham to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for a trio of prospects: Outfielder Justin Williams, righty Roel Ramirez and lefty Genesis Cabrera.

After a breakout 2017 in which he hit .306/.411/.520 with 23 home runs, Pham has struggled a bit this season slashing just .244/.332/.393 with 14 home runs. The slugging percentage dropped significantly based on plate appearances, as he has logged about 75%  of the plate appearances that he did last season in the beginning of August and is on base to blow past it. While I see Pham as a nice bench piece, I think it was smart of the Cardinals to sell relatively high on him.

Justin Williams is a very athletic outfielder, but comes with a hit tool that is somewhat “iffy”. It remains to be seen whether or not he will ever be able to put all of this tools together in the major leagues. As of now, he holds a .258/.313/.376 line in Triple-A. He strikes me as a fourth outfielder in the long-run.

Cabrera, 21, is working as a starter in Double-A this season, where he has posted a 4.12 ERA over 113.2 innings pitched. While this isn’t overwhelming, 21-years old in Double-A is certainly nothing to ignore. I would place his ceiling as a fourth starter, assuming he is able to improve with the level, as he matures, with a floor of a decent lefty long reliever. Nevertheless, as a durable lefty, he will have a major league career.

Finally, the 23-year old Ramirez is still in Double-A, and while he doesn’t have great control, it’s certainly serviceable, but if you look at his career statistics, he’s been very inconsistent. One year he’s great, the next, awful. I wouldn’t consider him a guarantee to make it to the majors, but if he does, he seems like a shoe-in to be a taxi-squad reliever.

The Braves Acquire Adam Duvall

In an interesting move to boost the bench, the Braves sent three players: Matt Wisler, Preston Tucker and Lucas Sims to the Cincinnati Reds to acquire Adam Duvall.

This deal looks to me like a swap of expendable assets in the hopes of catching some lightning with a change of scenery. In Duvall, the Braves acquired a roughly replacement level power hitter with defensive limitations and a batting line of .205/.286/.399 with 15 home runs for the Reds. Furthermore, he is controlled through 2021 with three seasons of arbitration eligibility. It’s not a bad gamble for the Braves, as Duvall was a solid regular, even racking up an all-star appearance from 2015-2017, in which he slashed .244/.299/.489 with 69 home runs over 1327 plate appearances.

As for the Braves, the picked up a trio of very interesting pieces. Throughout the season, I have been very high on Preston Tucker as I believe that when given enough playing time, he could be a solid to above average regular. Over 127 plate appearances with the Braves, Tucker hit .256/.307/.444 while performing admirably prior to the Ronald Acuna call-up. As his playing time dwindled, so did his statistics, but Cincinnati looks poised to present to him the opportunity to prove his value, as he seems likely to split time with Mason Williams and Brandon Dixon. Whether or not he meets my expectations remains to be seen, but he will be an interesting name to monitor.

The Reds also acquired a very interesting pair of arms who had both been top prospects in the Braves’ system recently, but had since fallen out of favor in the organization. Matt Wisler was acquired in the pre-Opening Day mega-deal from 2015, in which the Paders acquired Craig Kimbrel and had been heralded as a top-100 prospect before both 2014 and 2015. Over a sample size of just under 325 innings pitched, Wisler has limped to a 5.27 ERA and an FIP of 4.93, while posting solid, albeit unspectacular numbers in Triple-A. He will be out of options next season, and probably would have been exposed to waivers had he remained in the Braves’ organization. The Reds at least give him a shot to earn a rotation spot.

Finally, Lucas Sims was a first round pick by the Braves in 2012 and has struggled in limited major league innings posting a 5.96 ERA with a 5.26 FIP over 68 innings pitched. Nevertheless, he has found success in the minor leagues, especially this season as he had posted a 2.84 ERA over 73 innings pitched for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate prior to the deal. He will also be out of minor league options at the end of the season, and probably would have been on the outside looking in given the Braves pitching depth.

While I have no problem with either side of the deal, seeing how it was essentially “one team’s trash could be another team’s treasure”, butI give the Reds the edge on this deal based on the fact that they acquired three controllable players with legitimate major league upside, and replacement level downside, while trading a rather one-dimensional player who probably would have been non-tendered at the end of the season.

The Red Sox Acquire Ian Kinsler

In a rather self explanatory deadline deal, the Red Sox boosted their infield depth with Ian Kinsler from Los Angeles in exchange for a pair of fringe 40-man relievers with upside in Williams Jerez and Ty Buttery.

While Kinsler hasn’t been the player that he once was for a while now, he was still hitting a serviceable .239/.304/.406 over regular playing time for the Angels. While he probably won’t play every day for the Red Sox, he brings them some depth in the wake of Dustin Pedroia‘s injury woes, while bringing significant post-season and World Series experience to a very young team. Kinsler is a career .291/.400/.448 postseason hitter over 161 plate appearances, including a rather impressive .293/.431/.341 World Series line over 51 plate appearances.

Looking at the other side of the deal, Williams Jerez was once a top prospect for the Red Sox after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. Unfortunately, he struggled to the point where he had actually been placed on waivers, but after something of a resurgence as a reliever, he was added back to the 40-man roster after last season. While his 3.81 ERA wasn’t particularly impressive, he posted typically high-octane taxi numbers in both the strikeout and walk departments. Based on his velocity from the left side, he’s likely to have a major league career as a high-octane taxi squader.

Ty Buttrey was selected by the Sox in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, but has a higher ceiling than Jerez. While he has yet to make it to the majors, he has been a solid reliever in the minor leagues this past season, with good control and insane strikeout numbers. I see him as a mainstay middle reliever in the long-run, with the ceiling of a set-up man. His biggest issue is going to be his lack of an arsenal. While he can hit and control a huge fastball that can hit 100, his curve and change are average to below average, and while he has done a nice job with his control this season, it had previously been an issue.

This is one of those deals where you can’t really name a winner, based on the fact that neither organization gave up anything that could seriously come back to bite them. It adds depth to the Red Sox infield, which will certainly improve a team that was already a juggernaut, while giving the Halos a pair of players back for a player who would have departed for nothing at season’s end.

 The Pirates Acquire Kela, Archer

The Pirates were perhaps the biggest story of the deadline, as they made a pair of absolute blockbusters despite the fact that they were on the outskirts of competition at the time of the deadline. First, they acquired Keone Kela from the Rangers in exchange for Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later.

Being honest, at the time of the deal, I thought it was awful for the Pirates, as trading a very good starting pitching prospect who was close to the major leagues for a reliever in what seemed to be the beginning stages of a rebuild seemed foolish, regardless of the fact that Kela had three seasons of team control via arbitration and had posted a strong 3.44 ERA with a 2.96 FIP this past season with the Rangers.

Hearn had pitched beautifully in his first go in Double-A posting a 3.12 ERA, while controlling his 98 fastball rather nicely. His best pitch is a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s and he also has a slider and a change that have received mixed reviews from scouts with viewing him the most favorably out of all of the major outlets. Based on his results this season as well as his ability to throw three pitches, I would peg him as a three with a September 2019 ETA, but would like to see how he performs next season as he has seen periodic struggles in his time in the minor leagues, and I don’t necessarily trust the pair of secondaries enough to peg him as a guaranteed major league starter. If he does wind up abandoning one of the secondaries, however, he could be a very solid set-up man or closer.

My view on the deal changed, however, after the Chris Archer deal went down. That led me to believe that the Pirates brass believe in the controllable pieces on the roster enough to warrant going for it, not just this season, but a few down the line. Archer wasn’t cheap, as he cost the Buccos a pair of very highly rated players in Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, but will certainly help the Pirates over the next few seasons, as he’s controlled inexpensively through 2021.

I’ll be honest, I believe that Archer is a bit overrated, as many teams see him as an ace, especially in trade talks, based on his strong peripherals, but he has now posted exceptionally underwhelming bottom line numbers for three consecutive seasons, but I believe the act of acquiring Archer helps the Pirates more than his actual performance, as it shows the clubhouse that the front office believes in them and what they are capable of. While I may not see Archer as the top flight pitcher that many do, I still see him as a very solid mid-rotation arm that is making well-below his market value for the foreseeable future, and he will certainly improve the Pirates roster.

As for the prospects, Glasnow has shown flashes of becoming an elite starting pitcher, but I have serious doubts regarding his control. Yes, he can hit triple-digits, and has the size and durability to become an ace, but he has been inconsistent. The Rays will probably use him as a starter, and will give him as much of an opportunity as they possibly can to fill in behind Blake Snell, which could become a lethal one-two-punch, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see him moved to a high leverage bullpen role if his struggles continue. While he’s far from a guarantee, he has all of the makings of an elite major leaguer and looks like a worthy gamble by the Rays.

As for the 23-year old outfielder Austin Meadows, his hit tool has looked very good in the major leagues this season, and he has hit for reasonable power, but has struggled defensively and his plate discipline has been awful. He has slashed .292/.327/.468 over 165 plate appearances. First of all, the Pirates were playing him in center when he should probably take right field. If Meadows can take a few more walks, then he’s a we could be looking at an all-around solid player who could probably hit third in the order, and seems likely to be a starter even if he continues his current production. I would place him in the six or two hole without plate discipline improvements.

Assessing the pair of deals as a whole, I love the Rays’ end of the Archer deal, as they solicited an ace haul for a solid, albeit unspectacular pitcher, while handing the ace baton to Blake Snell, who certainly deserves it. They landed a pair of high upside young players, both major league ready, to fit in with their goal of competing in 2019 to 2020.

As for the Pirates, while the cost was high, it was the best way for them to avoid a full-fledged rebuild and remain competitive in a strong NL-Central. I give a lot of credit to the opportunistic front office for seeing the fact that St. Louis will rebuild and Milwaukee had shown legitimate weakness. The part of these deals that helps them the most, however, is the fact that it instills a confidence in the clubhouse from the front office. Furthermore, if , for some reason, the Pirates are bad next season, Archer and Kela can both be flipped for strong returns based on control. Where we stand now, without knowing drafts, future trades etc. the moves make the Pirates a better team in the short-term, but make them worse-off in the long-term (2022 and beyond), but regardless, the Pirates have enough talent in the system and youth on the active roster to make those losses palatable.

Finally, the Rangers side of the deal in incomplete, as they are still waiting on a player to be named later. Hearn is a good start for the Kela return, but I would expect the PTBNL to be a reasonably solid prospect, as Kela is controllable. If the PTBNL is a depth piece, I would certainly believe that the Rangers rushed the deal, but that remains to be seen.

The Indians Acquire Leonys Martin

The Indians struck a deal with the division rival Tigers acquiring outfielder Leonys Martin and right-handed pitcher Kyle Dowdy in exchange for shortstop Willi Castro

The outfield has been an area of need for a while for the Tribe, and while they had long been connected to Adam Jones, of the Orioles, he was never going to waive his five-and-ten rights regardless. While Martin isn’t a huge addition, he’s a very good defender with a decent bat and solid power and speed. He had slashed .251/.321/.409 with the Tigers with seven stolen bases and nine home runs. He is also playing on a one-year deal worth just $1,750,000, which made it a near guarantee that he would be trade.

The Tigers also sent over minor league pitcher Kyle Dowdy. Dowdy isn’t much of a prospect, as he is 25-years old and has spent the season pitching between Double and Triple A posting a pedestrian 4.92 ERA as a swing. He was a 12th round senior sign by the Tigers in the 2015 draft, and looks like an emergency call-up swing in the majors.

Castro is a decent pick-up for the Tigers. The 21-year old shortstop is a glove first player who offers plus speed and ten home run power potential, but brings a mediocre hit tool. Castro will be eligible for the Rule Five draft this December, and is a borderline protection candidate. I would peg his ultimate ETA at 2020, and expect him to be a super utility player similar to Freddy Galvis.

This looks, to me, like another even deal. Martin would have departed for nothing, making the return solid for the Tigers, while Martin fills a huge hole for the Indians at the cost of a lottery ticket infielder.

The Diamondbacks Acquire Diekman, Ziegler

The Diamondbacks remained consistent in their “go-for-it” plan for the 2018 season, as they brought in two very solid rental relievers at rather low costs. They traded relief prospect Wei-Chieh Huang to the Rangers for Jake Diekman and Tommy Eveld to the Marins for Brad Ziegler.

The Diamondbacks acquired a pair of proven relievers to bolster their middle relief corps behind Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano. As for Diekman, the 31-year old lefty had posted a 3.69 ERA over 39 innings for the Rangers with a strong 3.36 FIP. While he has always struggled with his control, he has always been good at keeping his strikeout numbers proportional, and ultimately preventing those runs to come around to score. He is rather inexpensive as well, as he is currently on a $2.71m deal one year before he hits the open market. Ziegler, meanwhile, is a name that Diamondbacks fans should be exceptionally familiar with as he pitched in high leverage relief for the Diamondbacks from the 2012 trade deadline through the 2016 deadline. While he is certainly in decline, as he is now 38-years old, he’s a veteran leader who brings some level of certainty to the middle relief corps. Over 52 innings for the Marlins, he had posted a 3.98 ERA while racking up ten saves. While FIP estimates weren’t so keep on his performance (4.58 FIP) he certainly made sense for Arizona based on his cost.

That cost, of course, was Tommy Eveld. The 24-year old reliever was drafted by Arizona back in the ninth round of the 2016 draft, and has been very good through the minor leagues posting a 1.91 ERA through 122.1 innings pitched. The biggest concern that I have with him is the fact that he has been pitching against younger competition. He could struggle as he reaches the upper minor leagues, but looks like a mainstay middle reliever by late-2019 with the ceiling of a set-up man.

Finally, the Diamondbacks gave up Wei-Chieh Huang, a very solid relief prospect coming from Japan. The 24-year old has been pitching in Class-A Advanced and Double-A this season and had posted a .200 ERA over 27 innings in Double-A. He has good stuff, but his mechanics and delivery are inconsistent. Based on his three pitch mix, he has the potential to be a set-up man, but looks more like a taxi-guy.

This is another pair of mutually beneficial deals. I admire how the Diamondbacks have been pushing this season, with stars Patrick Corbin and AJ Pollock on the way out. While I don’t believe that they can win the NL-West based on the utter star power in Los Angeles, they have the depth necessary to make a deep playoff run.

The Cubs Acquire Brandon Kintzler

The Nationals have been very confusing this season. While they claim to be “in the hunt”, they have made two moves that I would consider to be suspect. This is one of them, as Brandon Kintzler has been rather solid this season. It was reported that he had been suspected of speaking ill against the Nationals’ clubhouse. There are multiple reasons that this reason for trading him doesn’t fly: first, nothing was proven.  They essentially gave away a 3.59 ERA over 42.2 innings off of suspicion. Secondly, the reason he was traded was not because he was suspected of being a clubhouse cancer, but he spoke out about it. Now wouldn’t it have made so much more sense to ask him exactly what the problem was, and eliminate the person who was causing the problem?

In return, they received a lottery ticket in Jhon Romero. A 23-year old righty currently pitching as a reliever in Class-A Advanced. There isn’t a ton of information on him, but he looks like a potential mainstay middle. He has posted big strikeout numbers, pedestrian walk number and has shown the ability to induce groundballs and to avoid the long ball, allowing just one throughout his entire career.

If the Nationals had committed to selling, or had been completely out of it, this move wouldn’t have been so concerning. Romero isn’t a bad lottery ticket relief prospect, but the timing and justification of the trade really raise questions. Theo Epstein and co. did a nice job taking advantage of this situation.

The Phillies Acquire Loup, Ramos

This was the steal of the deadline, as the Phillies acquired rental All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos from the Rays in exchange for “future consideration”.

Ramos has slashed .297/.346/.488 with 14 home runs over 315 plate appearances for the Rays, earning an All-Star nod in the process. The reason that he was so inexpensive was the fact that he was on the disabled list. My question is: Why wouldn’t the Rays just wait until he was ready to return in August at this point?

Ramos adds a huge offensive upgrade to the Phillies who are looking to swipe their first NL-East title since 2012. Furthermore, as Ramos is a rental, it doesn’t block Jorge Alfaro or Andrew Knapp for very long.

The Phillies also made a deal with another AL-East club, acquiring Aaron Loup from the Jays in exchange for Jacob Waguespack. Loup is another rental, and will pitch as a situational reliever for the Phils. This isn’t a huge upgrade by any means, but he has always been very good against lefties. It is just important that he is used correctly.

As for the return, Waguespack is a 24-year old swing who will become a minor league free agent at season’s end. He transitioned to pitching in 2015 and has posted a career 3.56 ERA, and has struggled in Triple-A pitching to a 5.06 ERA with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs over 53.1 innings. He’s a depth guy.

The Braves and O’s Agree on a Kevin Gausman Swap

The Braves and Orioles agreed on something of a blockbuster, as Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day went over to the Braves in exchange for a group of prospects including Evan Phillips, Bruce Zimmerman, Jean Carlos Encarnacion and Brett Cumberland.

The Braves did an outstanding job here. Coming up, Gausman was projected to be a top flight starter as a part of the O’s projected one-two punch with Dylan Bundy. While that didn’t necessarily go as planned, he has still developed into a rather solid mid-rotation to back-end guy who shows flashes of dominance. Prior to the deadline, he had posted a mediocre 4.43 ERA over 124 innings pitched to follow-up a rough 2017 in which he posted a 4.64 ERA while leading the league in games started with 34. Nevertheless, the 27-year old has compiled a decent 4.19 ERA over 776.2 innings pitched over the course of his career and comes with two seasons of team control beyond 2018. Controllable starting pitchers are perhaps the most valuable asset that a team can possess, and the Braves got a hold of one without parting with a single top-100 prospect.

While O’Day may be seen as a salary dump piece in this deal, as he is out for the season after hamstring surgery, and is owed $9 million for 2019, he is one with legitimate upside. O’Day has consistently been one of the best relievers in the league with OPS+ numbers 115 or above (100 is average) since 2009 with the sole exception of a 2011 season, which was the season that he was designated for assignment by Texas and claimed by Baltimore. Now 35-years old, it remains to be seen how much he has in the tank, but at the end of the day, he provides the Braves with a veteran reliever who can add some experience and upside to a young bullpen going into 2019.

Brett Cumberland headlined a rather unimpressive return for the O’s. The 23-year old catcher/first baseman/designated hitter has very real power, and strong plate discipline, but is a butcher behind the dish and seems likely to struggle with making contact as he ascends through the minor leagues. He broke out in 2017 hitting .266/.409/.445 with eleven home runs through 452 plate appearances between Class A and Class A Advanced, but hasn’t been able to follow it up struggling to a .225/.353/.391 line reaching Double-A this season. I see Cumberland as a mix between Andrew Susac (plate discipline) and Cameron Rupp (power) as the type of guy who could very well see at bats on a rebuilding team, but will be phased out as they blossom into competition and should be ready by mid next season.

Encarnacion, 20, is a rather high upside lottery ticket. He reached A-Ball for the first time this season, and while he has been putting up good contact numbers, it has been inflated by a very high BABip. Furthermore, he never walks, which could pose a problem for him. He slashed a solid .288/.317/.468 prior to the deal and holds a career isolated on base percentage of .034. His arm is his calling card, therefore, I would not be shocked to see him convert to the mound.

Phillips, 23, looks like a taxi guy who will eat a considerable amount of innings for the Orioles as they embark on their rebuild similar to a Warwick Saupold (Detroit) or Austin Brice (Cincinnati). He sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball and brings with him a very nice slider, which could put him into a middle relief role eventually. While he isn’t devoid of control, there are certainly some kinks to be worked out.

Finally, Zimmerman is my favorite player in the O’s side of the deal. The 23-year old lefty sits in the low 90’s and has exhibited reasonably strong control. Right now, he is difficult to try to project as all of his peripheral statistics have been all over, some good some bad etc. but based on what I’ve seen and his profile, he looks to me like a back-end lefty who has the floor of a lefty swing and the ceiling of a mid-rotation guy.

This was a very opportunistic move for the Braves, as they jumped on the chance to acquire a pair of very solid, and controllable pitchers at a very low-cost. The reason that I don’t necessarily like this move for the O’s is that they had no need to trade either pitcher yet. Both came with control and had rather low stocks in comparison to where they have been at, or where they could be. I, personally, believe that they should have waited and held out until they got a better offer. A young, high-upside starter should be able to draw more than a few mid-level prospects.

The Mariners Acquire Cameron Maybin

In a rather straight-forward deal, the Mariners acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Miami Marlins in exchange for infield prospect Bryson Brigman and international bonus cap space.

Maybin, now 31, was signed by the Marlins in late February and has played reasonably well, slashing .251/.338/.343 over 287 plate appearances for the Fish. He will provide the Mariners with some additional outfield depth, and seems likely to play every day, or almost every day. He has graded well in center field this season, and while his stolen base numbers weren’t exactly mind-blowing (8-for-13), he does have reasonable speed.

The Marlins got themselves a very nice infield prospect in Brigman. The 23-year old is a solid fielder in the middle infield with an encouraging hit tool and decent speed. His biggest issue, right now, is his lack of power, which, as we’ve seem from other middle infielders, isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all tool. While he’s still in Class A Advanced, based on his age and success, there’s no reason that he can’t be in the major leagues by the end of 2019. I see him as a legitimate super utility player who can slash .260/.340/.375 which playing great defense.

This trade seems like a clear win for the Marlins. While Maybin is a solid player, I don’t see him as much of an upgrade from Guillermo Heredia and possibly a downgrade from Ben Gamel, who is languishing in Triple-A for some reason. I believe the Mariners would have been better off keeping Brigman and simply calling up Gamel, who has been a very respectable major leaguer over the past couple of seasons. Meanwhile, the Marlins received a very legitimate prospect, who seems likely to provide value in the major leagues, for a player who was on his way out the door anyway.

The Dodgers Acquire Dozier, Axford

The Dodgers swung a pair of trades on deadline day, as they acquired Brian Dozier from the Twins in exchange for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer, while acquiring John Axford from the Blue Jays in exchange for Corey Copping.

The Dozier trade is certainly interesting. If you recall, prior to the 2017 season, the Dodgers had pursued the former Twins’ second baseman rather heavily, offering Jose De Leon and continuously getting shut down. After it became clear that the Twins wouldn’t budge on the deal, the Dodgers made an ill-fated deal to acquire Logan Forsythe from the Rays in exchange for De Leon. Fast forward a year and a half, and the Twins are getting the player that the Dodgers gave up De Leon for in exchange for Dozier.

Dozier has struggled in his walk year posting a .227/.307/.405 line with 16 home runs. This is his first season posting an OPS below .750 since 2013 and it could not have come at a worse time. Dozier, unfortunately, was not exempt from the failure of the Twins as a whole this season, and during his walk year, his struggles really hurt the Twins long term. While they may have been able to get a legitimate prospect or two had he played to his usual standards, the Twins were forced to settle for an impending free agent to offset the salaries, and a pair of quasi-prospects.

Raley, 23, is currently in Double-A slashing .275/.345/.447 with 17 home runs. While that line is certainly very good, Raley isn’t much of a defender, and while he walks a lot, strikes out even more, which could pose a major obstacle for him as he rises through the system and eventually reaches the major leagues. While he could be a reasonably solid player if he can translate his numbers to the majors, I would consider him to be a Chris Carter, Oswaldo Arcia, Darin Ruf type for now. That being said, I would certainly change my stance if he shows that he can hit in Triple-A.

Smeltzer, on the other hand, is simply depth. At 23-years old, he has posted a 4.73 ERA over 83.2 innings at Double-A Tulsa which just about matches his career 4.59. While he controls the ball well, he throws it right down the middle and gets hit rather hand. I, personally, don’t believe that he ever makes it to the major leagues.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, made out reasonably well in this deal. While Dozier hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, second base had been a position of need this season. Dozier gives the playoff hunting Dodgers a legitimate defensive option at second who could theoretically heat up with the bat reasonably quickly, based on what we’ve seen from him. At the cost, it’s difficult to imagine a better scenario for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers also bolstered another position of need in their acquisition of Axford. The Jays signed the veteran reliever to a minor league deal over the offseason, and he broke camp with the club. While he wasn’t exactly great in Toronto (4.41 ERA, 4.02 FIP), he was definitely worth his $1.5m salary for the 2018 season. He will give the Dodgers some depth for the stretch run and the postseason, assuming they make it.

As for Copping, the 24-year old has been decent in the minor leagues after being selected in the 31st round of the 2015 draft. This season, he had posted a 2.53 ERA over 46.1 innings in Double-A and a 2.45 in 7.1 innings in Triple-A. He sits in the low 90’s and brings with him an above average slider that could make him a decent taxi guy, but based on his control, I wouldn’t expect much more than that.

I see the first deal as a clear win for the Dodgers. Based on the fact that the Twins have a reasonably solid amount of money coming off of the books this offseason, I would not have been opposed to offering Dozier a qualifying offer in the hopes that he was able to rebound. If the team struggled again in 2019, then flip him if he accepted it and returned to play well, and if he didn’t accept it, then you get the draft pick. The second deal, on the other hand is another one of those deals in which there is not necessarily a clear winner, as Copping probably had no place in the Dodgers future plans, and Axford fills a need for them, while getting the Jays some compensation rather than letting him leave for nothing.

The Brewers Acquire Jonathan Schoop

To round it out, the Brewers made a rather sizable move acquiring Jonathan Schoop from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Luis Ortiz, Jean Carmona and Jonathan Villar.

I didn’t love this move for the Brewers. After acquiring Mike Moustakas, the infield was reasonably solid, and the rotation still needed some help, but rather than trading to bolster their starting pitching, they traded from their starting pitching depth to get another infielder. Furthermore, I don’t love Schoop. While he was very solid last season, his numbers in 2018 are much closer to every other season in his career:

From 2014 to 2016: .250/.282/.427 (.709) with 56 home runs (19 per year)

2018: .235/.264/.420 (.684) with 17 home runs (on pace for about 21 or 22)

The biggest difference, however, is the number on his checks, as he is now on an arbitration deal paying him $8.5m, and stands to get a raise this offseason, despite lackluster performance.

Meanwhile, the O’s got themselves a very nice haul from the Brewers. Carmona, 18, is a lottery ticket infielder. While he’s the obvious throw-in here, his glove is good enough where he could become a utility guy. Offensively, he hasn’t shown much just yet, but he has plenty of room to fill out (6’1″ 183) and add some power, while patience can be gained with maturity. I’m not going to attempt to put a ceiling or floor on his, as he’s too far away, but he’s worth watching.

Villar, 27, is a great piece for the O’s, as he will serve as one of their placeholders through the rebuild. Under team control through 2020, he’s the type of guy who can eat at bats and eventually get the Orioles some more in a trade. Prior to the deal, Villar had been hitting .261/.315/.377 with 16 stolen bases and very favorable defensive marks throughout the infield. He’s one of the guys, similar to Domingo Santana, who had been squeezed out of the Brewers plans despite solid, albeit unspectacular numbers. He should see every day at bats for the O’s and could be one of their best offensive players going into 2019 (of course, that’s not necessarily saying much).

Finally, the center-piece, Luis Ortiz is a 22-year old righty starter who had been a top-100 prospect just a year ago. While he”struggled” in Double-A (4.01 ERA over 94.1 IP), keep in mind that he was 21-years old and it was his first go in Double-A. I see Ortiz as a three who can be up and ready to go by the time the middle of 2019 comes around. While the O’s can afford to be patient with him, I wouldn’t keep him in the minor leagues for too long, as you don’t want him to languish. One thing I will note, however, is that I wouldn’t expect him to be a part of the next contending O’s team. The average rebuild in the MLB takes about five years, which would probably take Ortiz to the end, or near the end of his rookie contract. Unless they give him an extension early in his career, when they don’t have any big salaries, except the monstrosity Davis deal, which will be on the books through 2037, they could use Ortiz as a major trade chip down the line which could bring them back several great prospects.

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