One of the most notable moments of the Major League Baseball offseason was the announcement that the league decided to end the August waiver trade period, making July 31 the only trade deadline. While nobody truly has any idea how it will affect the market, the San Francisco Giants have already made their relievers available publicly. Let’s take a look at the potential market for these guys.
Relief pitching has been much worse than usual across the league with 15 bullpens having an ERA above 4.50 and four above 5.00, two of which are expecting to compete this season. Meanwhile, San Francisco boasts the best bullpen in the league with a 2.58 ERA.
Obviously, the demand is there. Going off of expected competitors with bullpen ERAs above 4.50, we’re looking at a market including the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, and Washington Nationals. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Boston try and buy at the deadline, despite lacking system depth.
Here is what the Giants have to offer:
- Left-handed pitcher Will Smith
- $4.23 million in 2019
- 1.04 ERA, 2.08 FIP, 8.2 innings pitched
- Right-handed pitcher Mark Melancon
- $14 million in both 2019 and 2020
- 0.00 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 10.2 innings pitched
- Left-handed pitcher Tony Watson
- $3.5 million in 2019 and a $2.5 million player option with a $500k buyout for 2020
- 2.25 ERA, 4.12 FIP over 8.0 innings pitched
- Right-handed pitcher Sam Dyson
- $5 million in 2019 and team control via arbitration for 2020
- 4.38 ERA, 2.95 FIP over 12.1 innings pitched
- Right-handed pitcher Reyes Moronta
- Under team control through 2023
- 2.70 ERA, 2.22 FIP over 10 innings pitched
- Right-handed pitcher Nick Vincent
- $1.75 million in 2019
- 2.03 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 13.1 innings pitched
- Right-handed pitcher Trevor Gott
- Under team control through 2023
- 2.45 ERA, 2.21 FIP, 11 innings pitched
As it stands, the Giants would be better off holding onto Gott and Moronta, as both have shown enormous potential and will be under team control for a while. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t listen, as they could, theoretically, be blown away, but there should be absolutely no sense of urgency in pushing these deals. The situation is similar with Dyson. His value isn’t terribly low right now, but based on peripheral statistics, there’s a good chance that his bottom line numbers improve which would increase his trade value. Dyson’s trade value and the fact that he is under control through 2020 should lessen the sense of urgency. Melancon will probably stay put despite his excellent results, simply based on his contract and recent results. If the Giants were to eat a significant portion of his remaining $28 million, they might be able to secure a decent prospect (probably two organizational top 10-20 guys), but assuming his numbers remain solid, his value will be much higher next season based on the fact that in this case, he becomes a rental with about $7 million on his contract, which isn’t a huge investment.
This leaves us with Smith, Watson, and Vincent as the top trade chips. Smith is obviously the most valuable based on the fact that he’s a closer and a lefty. Based on the desperation of some teams, I could very well see Smith getting the Giants a two-player return including a back-end top 100 guy, as well as a lottery ticket who is either: A) very raw, but brings upside, probably slated between 20 and 30 within a major-league organization, or B) a major-league ready piece with something of a low ceiling, but has the ability to eat innings, or at bats, and could always go off like Adam Duvall did following the trade that sent him to Cincinnati.
I would peg Watson and Vincent as very similar commodities, with Vincent coming out on top. With Watson, the fact that he’s a lefty works in the Giants’ favor as does the prospect of a player option, which could very well be exercised based on the fact that so many good veteran relievers, including Vincent, were forced to settle for minor-league deals despite solid results in 2018. There were a few reasons why I picked Vincent over him, though. The main reason was his peripheral statistics, which suggest that he’s going to come back to Earth to some extent, at some point. While that probably doesn’t mean that he’s in for a complete meltdown, I could see his ERA leveling off at about 3.75. Furthermore, he will make twice as much as Vincent while offering less versatility in his role. Vincent has been deployed in long relief, high leverage, and garbage situations while Watson is more of a specialist, as evidenced by his 8.0 innings pitched over nine appearances. I would imagine Vincent could bring the Giants an organizational top 10-15 prospect, as well as a lottery ticket who ranks from 25-35 in the organization. With Watson, the return seems likely to be either one top 15-20 organizational prospect, or a pair of lottery tickets, similar to the Xavier Cedeno deal from last summer.
To put this into perspective, here are my initial expectations for potential returns on each of the trio from potential suitors. Keep in mind, it’s exceptionally early, and we don’t know just how the market will develop over the coming months. I tried to take other factors such as “Who’s being blocked?” into account. If you have any other potential deals in mind, or thoughts regarding my predictions, drop them in the comments section.
- Will Smith: Right-handed pitcher Mason Denaburg (#4) and left-handed pitcher Grant Borne (#48)
- Nick Vincent: Right-handed pitchers Sterling Sharp (#15) and Joan Baez (#38)
- Tony Watson: Third baseman Drew Ward (#25)
- Will Smith: Left-handed pitcher Kolby Allard (#12) and utility guy Ray-Patrick Didder (#32)
- Nick Vincent: Right-handed pitchers Freddy Tarnok (#19) and Josh Graham (#43)
- I saw somebody on Twitter suggest that first baseman Greyson Jenista (#14) would make sense as well.
- Tony Watson: Right-handed pitcher Jasseel De La Cruz (#25)
New York (NL)
- Will Smith: Left-handed pitcher David Peterson (#7) and infielder Gavin Cecchini
- Nick Vincent: Right-handed pitchers Jordan Humphreys (#18) and Jose Moreno (#38)
- Tony Watson: Catcher Ali Sanchez (#21)
- Will Smith: Right-handed pitcher Zack Brown (#6) and outfielder Larry Ernesto (#24)
- Nick Vincent: Right-handed pitcher Trey Supak (#14) and left-handed pitcher Phil Bickford (#44)
- Tony Watson: Third baseman Lucas Erceg (#18)
- Will Smith: Right-handed pitchers Luis Oviedo (#6) and Dalbert Siri (#40)
- Nick Vincent: Right-handed pitchers Eli Morgan (#23) and Jean Carlos Mejia (#34)
- Tony Watson: Right-handed pitcher Nick Sandlin (#26) and a PTBNL
- Will Smith: Utility player Ian Happ and left-handed pitcher Justin Steele (#7)
- Nick Vincent: Right-handed pitcher Cory Abbott (#18) and outfielder Mark Zagunis (#44)
- Tony Watson: Right-handed pitcher Trevor Clifton (#31) and first baseman Ian Rice (#48)
- Will Smith: First baseman Evan White (#4) and right-handed pitcher Max Povse (#31)
- Nick Vincent: Outfielder Braden Bishop (#10)
- Tony Watson: Right-handed pitcher Art Warren (#21)
- Will Smith: Infielders Nick Gordon (#4) and Travis Blankenhorn (#18)
- Nick Vincent: Outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. (#15) and right-handed pitcher Dakota Chalmers (#43)
- Tony Watson: Left-handed pitcher Tyler Jay (#32) and catcher Chris Williams (#49)
Based on these projections, I would place Will Smith with the Chicago Cubs, Nick Vincent with the Minnesota Twins, and Tony Watson with the Cleveland Indians.