The trade deadline is always an interesting time of year. Teams looking to make a run for the playoffs are in search of some talented players to inject into their lineups. Sometimes it works! Examples like Yoenis Cespedes was a lightning rod for the New York Mets in 2015, Kansas City won the Johnny Cueto sweepstakes, the D-Backs brought Curt Schilling into the fold, and the Red Sox dumped Nomar in favor of winning their first championship in 86 years, show how a midseason move can jumpstart a run to October. The trade deadline is also a time to snag young team controlled prospects and young stars for a team that’s looking to pull it all together in the upcoming years. Last year the Yankees stocked their farm system with some insane prospects, and the White Sox continued to do the same this season. It’s always an exciting time of the year for the organizations and their fans.
Theo Loves Trades
The Chicago Cubs struck first, snagging José Quintana from their South side rivals in exchange for Dylan Cease, Bryant Flete, Matt Rose and Eloy Jimenez. In the MLB’s Midseason Top 100 Prospect list, the Cubs have only one player, 3B/OF Jeimer Candelario, while the White Sox are represented 5 times, two of whom were acquired in the Quintana deal. Did the Cubs give away too much? I don’t think so. Quintana has been a diamond in the rough over on the other side of town, and since the change of scenery, he’s been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Cubs inconsistent starting pitching. Plus Quintana is signed through 2018 with two team options in 2019 and 2020, both at below market value for what he brings to a team. It’s a brilliant move on both sides. The White Sox get more prospects, their life source, and the Cubs get a great pitcher for the next three years. I love this deal. Great job, Theo. I will always love you. ALWAYS.
J.D. & J.V.
The most surprising move to me was the J.D. Martinez trade to Arizona. J.D. Martinez is the only guy in the league with his full name on the back of his jersey, and he’s also the young power hitter who started the season as a Detroit Tiger. Martinez got a late start to the season, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at his numbers. In 60 games for Detroit, Martinez hit .305 with an OPS of 1.018, as well as smashing 16 dingers in the first half. Martinez was a beacon of hope in a messy and crowded Tigers lineup, but he represented the Tigers future. Andrew didn’t see it that way, saying he thought Martinez would sign with a team looking to compete now, but Echoes the sentiment that some Tigers Faithful saw him staying.
“I think you will find little argument around the League to me saying that J.D. Martinez is/was the biggest bat on the market approaching the Trade Deadline. A free agent at the end of the season, the Tigers needed to get something for J.D. while they still could before he left in the offseason for a team with a shot at winning a title. (He was leaving Tigers fans. Stop it.) The Tigers farm system is, quite simply, bad. Martinez could easily help refill that farm system with quality prospects. Or so everyone thought. On Tuesday, Al Avila traded JD to the Arizona Diamondbacks for $50 and a case of Heineken. Actually, that might have been a better deal. What he actually got were 3 prospects from the only farm system in MLB that might be worse than the Tigers. Not one of them is listed in Baseball-America’s top 100 prospects. None of them have a lot of upside. None of them figure to be anything more than an Andrew Romine style player in 10 years if we’re lucky. There is absolutely no way that I can think of to spin this that makes it a good trade for the Tigers. I mean, maybe this is a stupid enough move to get Avila fired, but other than that there is nothing really hopeful about this situation. And that sucks.”
He’s right. Avila sent their hottest bat to Arizona for 3 minor leaguers, the top two make up #12 and #21 in the Tigers system. That’s not great. At. All. You’re sending one of the most enticing, powerful bats on the market to the team that sent the NUMBER ONE OVERALL PICK TO ATLANTA FOR SHELBY MILLER. YOU HAVE GOT TO GET MORE OF A RETURN FOR GUYS OF MARTINEZ’S CALIBER. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
This is worrisome if I’m a Tigers fan, especially with Verlander being shopped around. If J.D. Martinez was given away for a song, who knows what Verlander will get on the trade market. The issue lies in what order the pitchers go in. If Verlander is looked at as the 3rd best option, he’s the consolation prize and will go for a lot less, that’s a problem. Avila’s had an issue trading players in his tenure as GM, and it all comes back to his evaluation of a player’s worth, both present, and future. Guys Avila has gambled on and lost? Cameron Maybin, Manny Piña, Justin Upton, etc. There’s a lack of forethought, but there’s a chance it doesn’t carry over to Verlander.
Verlander is a huge piece for the Tigers to move. It’s the move that launches a franchise into a new era. This is Randy Johnson to Houston, Schilling to Arizona, Cespedes to the Mets. This is a huge moment for the franchise. To get anything less than perfect is not an option.
NEW YORK TRADE OF MIND
The other major blockbuster move was made by the New York Yankees to bring some aid to their infield and their bullpen. The White Sox weren’t done shipping off big names and rebuilding for the future after the Quintana deal, instead they shipped off Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson for Tyler Clippard and minor leaguers Tito Polo, Ian Clarkin, and Blake Rutherford. This is a steal for the Yankees, and considering just how dead in the water Chicago is it’s a steal for them too. Rutherford is the #45 prospect in the game, and two of the players received by the Yankees are rentals, with Robertson staying next year to be the 8th inning guy. The Yankees need production from third base that Chase Hedley wasn’t giving them and their bullpen was a mess that lacked structure above anything else. Once they figure out what’s going on with first base, they’ll be on track to make a run for it.
However, the Yankees are in an interesting spot. With the treasure trove of young talent that Brian Cashman has acquired in recent years, there’s a lot of teams who are eager to trade with the Yankees. Sonny Gray and the Yankees have been linked for a while now, but in the past few days talks seemed to have cooled. Why? Because it’s Billy Beane and he wants prospects, something the Yankees have OOODLES of, and I don’t say OOODLES unless I mean it.
Talks appeared to break down on Friday after the A’s stated they wanted either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres involved in the deal. The Yankees have said previously that essentially all of their top prospects were off the table, which is an interesting thing to say when that’s why people are coming to your table. Imagine you walk into a Taco Bell that has just opened and they don’t want to sell you a taco, a chalupa, a crunch wrap supreme, NOTHING, but continue to offer Mountain Dew Baja Blast. That’s what we like to call a difficult metaphor.
But seriously, the Yankees will have to make a decision, whether they want to keep their prospects and go into the postseason without Sonny Gray, or use what they have and spend a bit of the pile of gold they’re currently sitting on. I mean, it’s Sonny Gray, one of the league’s best young pitchers and he comes with two years of team control. WORTH IT, but what do I know? I’m just a baseball blogger.
Now, this is also a deal without Yonder Alonzo, who has been a shining star at first base for the Athletics. If Alonzo is included in the deal it’ll take quite a bit more to acquire both players. The Yankees set out to get help at first, but after the Frazier trade decided to teach Chase Headley how to play the #3 position. Y’all. Brian Cashman needs to stop trying to make Chase Headley work. It ain’t gonna work. I understand he’s been hitting well since the break, but since he was signed by the Yankees in 2014, he’s been nothing but underwhelming and moving him to first base isn’t gonna solve those issues. They need an outside hire.
The Rays snagged Lucas Duda (RIP LUCAS) from the Mets in exchange for #30 Prospect Drew Smith. Smith has had great numbers in the minors this year and will make a solid addition to the Mets farm system, but the Rays got Duda for relatively cheap. They offered a great prospect and pulled the trigger. Done. Something tells me the Yankees are not negotiating well with other teams this deadline, because if Lucas Duda can go for a team’s #30 prospect, you could’ve gotten him too. This is a cause for concern if I’m the Yankees. We’ll cover more of the upcoming Sonny Gray and Verlander madness in the next few days so keep on the lookout for that.
There’s also a lot of heat coming from Texas, as there usually is this time of year. The Texas Rangers have reportedly told teams they will trade Starting Pitcher Yu Darvish, but have yet to come out with any reported deals or talks. It’s all speculation, both in terms of offers from other teams and the Rangers ability to evaluate that talent. Last year the Rangers made a move for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeff Jeffress. While at the time it appeared that the Brewers got fleeced, they were able to make some moves to free up prospects. Now we have the strong Brewers with their battery behind the plate and their bullpen providing support to their young pitching staff. The Rangers have Lucroy who’s hitting .245 with an OPS of .645 and Jeffress with his 5.21 ERA and 1.688 WHIP. Who got fleeced? It’s hard to tell…
While Darvish would be a rental for the team that picks him up, Texas has to remember that they are holding the cards. Darvish could pull in some strong prospects, something the Texas system could desperately use. The Rangers have only one prospect on the Top 100 list from Baseball America and MLB’s list. That’s not great. Granted a lot of the Rangers prospects are already up in the majors. Mazara, Gallo, Odor, Jurickson are all making an impact on the MLB club, but they’ll need reinforcements in the minors behind them, especially pitching prospects. This is the time for Darvish to rebuild the franchise with two or three solid prospects.
In his time with the Rangers Darvish made $915,573 per start, that’s money the Rangers should look for in the future. They can do that with prospects, but that all hangs on their ability to evaluate their options. It also might behoove them to refrain from saying things like “We’re still going to trade Darvish.” Maybe it’s just me, but the more someone tells me they are going to do something, the more doubt I have they’ll pull through.
Pitchers are the hot commodities on the trade market. The big three will be talked about by every baseball pundit over the next 48 hours. Where will they end up? There’s a ton of speculation, but it’s just that, we won’t know anything until it all goes down. We’ve seen some crazy things happen at the deadline. Yoenis Cespedes came to the Mets minutes before 4:00 PM, and in the days before that Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores were going to Milwaukee. The Mets went to the World Series. The traded for a farm system last year and still retained their biggest offseason pickup the next year. There’s no way to know, but isn’t it fun trying to guess!