Much like July, August 31 brings a new deadline. This time, however, the deadline signifies the final opportunity for teams to bring in players outside of the organization who will be eligible for postseason rosters. While the 31st typically brings some larger scale deals — with eight coming on that date in 2017, including trades of Justin Upton and Justin Verlander — the 30th this year brought a few minor moves to hold us over.
There were three deals that went down. The first was the acquisition of Kristopher Negron by the Seattle Mariners from the Arizona Diamondbacks. While I would expect Jerry Dipoto to continue making moves until the bell sounds, this trade is a very solid under-the-radar move by the Mariners. Negron is typically seen as a Quad-A player, but the 32-year-old has been hitting exceptionally well in Triple-A this season with a .283/.368/.477 line with 15 home runs and ten stolen bases in 13 attempts. While there are some obvious indications that these numbers don’t seem likely to be sustainable, including the fact that Negron is currently in the PCL or that he is riding an unsustainable .380 BABIP, any offensive production is simply the icing on the cake. Negron is noted for his defensive versatility over offensive numbers and should be able to serve as a very solid depth piece for the M’s down the stretch. Another encouraging statistic is that he has improved his plate discipline over the past two seasons, drawing walks in 10.1 percent of his minor league at bats this season, building off of a solid 8.0 percent from last year. In prior years he had hovered between 4-7 percent. This improvement with at least serviceable speed and power make him a nice September call-up candidate. The Diamondbacks received some cash in the deal.
The DBacks weren’t done there, however, as they picked up catcher Chris Stewart from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash considerations. The 26-year-old backstop had essentially become redundant in Atlanta after being sent outright off of the roster and falling to fourth on the organizational depth chart behind recent acquisition Rene Rivera. There are two possible scenarios with this deal. The first is that Stewart is recalled from Triple-A to serve as a veteran bench piece to help the club down the stretch and remain a clubhouse influence through the postseason. Otherwise, Stewart will simply replace Anthony Recker, who, despite his age, isn’t as experienced as Stewart, but has superior offensive statistics in the minor leagues. Nevertheless, in September, a third catcher is essentially a necessity for contenders in September, and the Diamondbacks, who did not have any additional major league ready guys on the 40-man roster, now have some options.
The third and final trade was another backstop swap. The Chicago Cubs picked up Bobby Wilson from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Chris Gimenez and a player to be named later. The purpose of this deal for the Cubs was similar to the Diamondbacks acquisition of Stewart, as they brought in an experienced third catcher for the stretch run. Gimenez had been off of the 40-man roster since early July and had struggled in Triple-A, hitting just .204/.282/.303 in Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs knew that calling him up wouldn’t have brought the same benefit as an outside acquisition would. Despite his noted clubhouse presence, he has become a liability on the field. While Wilson isn’t much better at the dish, as he has hit just .178/.242/.281, he has drawn very solid reviews with the glove including a 0.9 bdWAR and throwing out 30% of base stealers with a .995 fielding percentage with only two passed balls over 390.2 innings. The 35-year-old, who is currently on the disabled list, will be a welcomed addition to a Cubs team looking to defend their NL Central title once again. Gimenez is really just a depth piece for the Twins, as he will probably depart via minor league free agency after the season, but keep an eye out for a PTBNL. While I wouldn’t expect anything special, the Twins should at least grab a lottery ticket.