First Pitch Newsletter — July 30, 2018

It’s the Trade Deadline!

By Eli Greenspan and Zach Durr

We’ve been trying to hit every team before circling back to old ones but since it’s the trade deadline we bring you this Red Sox gem. You may recall Nomar was the centerpiece of a mega, four team trade deadline blockbuster in 2004. The trade involved sending Nomar and OF Matt Murton to the Cubs, Orlando Cabrera (from the Expos) and Doug Mientkiewicz (from the Twins) to the Red Sox, and Francis Beltran, Alex Gonzalez, and Brendan Harris to the Expos. The Twins, in the end, received Justin Jones from the Cubs. The Red Sox went on to the win the World Series that year and Cabrera hit .288/.377/.356 with 11 RBIs through 14 postseason games.

Fast forward to 2018, it’s been a slow but steady week of trades with potentially evem bigger trades on the horizon. Will JT Realmuto, Chris Archer, or Adrian Beltre get traded? Expect a lot of relievers to move as that market heats up. Several teams are looking to fortify the bullpen for the stretch.

*** WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK ***

BREWERS ACQUIRE MOUSTAKAS, SORIA: The Brewers made two moves this week to bolster their roster for the second half. They acquired Joakim Soria from the White Sox in exchange for LHP Kodi Medeiros and RHP Wilber Perez. Soria owns a 2.56 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a 49/10 K/BB in 38 2/3 innings this year. He gives the Brewers a formidable back-end of the bullpen with Hader, Soria, and Knebel. Medeiros, 22, owns a 3.14 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 107/45 K/BB in 103.1 innings in Double-A this season. Perez is pitching in the Dominican Summer League but owns a 2.01 ERA through 40.1 innings with 47/13 K/BB.

The Brewers also acquired Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, sending top prospect OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge Lopez back to the Royals. Moustakas should see a boost from moving to a friendlier ballpark in Miller Park, not to mention having teammates around him who actually give pitchers pause. On the season, Moose is hitting .249/.309/.468 with 20 HR and 62 RBI through 98 games. The most interesting aspect of this trade is the Brewers will shift Travis Shaw to second base to make room for Moustakas. At 6'4'’. 230, it’ll be a tough transition for the Mayor of Ding Dong City (I’m serious), but this lineup is as strong as ever. Phillips, 24, is as close to being major league ready as anyone and joins a franchise where he could see regular playing time. The Brewers paid a hefty price for a rental but there’s simply no room in the outfield for Phillips so it made sense to move him.

YANKEES WIN HAPP, BRITTON SWEEPSTAKES: The Yankees proved to be the most tenacious buyers this trade deadline, making two noteworthy trades within their own division as they fight to keep pace with the Red Sox. First, the Yankees sent prospect RHP Dillon Tate, LHP Josh Rogers, and RHP Cody Carroll to the Orioles for LHP Zach Britton. Britton is an elite pitcher who makes an elite bullpen even more deadly. Tate owns a 3.38 ERA, 1.11 WHIP through 15 starts with a 75/25 K/BB this season. Rogers owns a 3.95 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP through 109.1 innings at Triple-A. Lastly, Carroll, 25, owns a 2.32 ERA through 42.2 innings at Triple-A. All figure to see time with the Orioles in the not-so-distant future.

The Yankees later sent infielder Brandon Drury and OF Billy McKinney to the Blue Jays for LHP JA Happ. Happ, 35, owns a 47–23 record, 3.18 ERA, and a 1.18 WHIP through 88 starts since the 2015 trade deadline when he was traded to the Pirates. He gives them a reliable arm down the stretch to round out the rotation. The Yankees may wind up missing Dillon Tate, but otherwise they receive two highly capable rentals as they prepare for October. Drury figures to be an above average stopgap as the Blue Jays prepare for the arrivals of Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

CUBS ACQUIRE HAMELS, CHAVEZ: The Cubs made two separate trades with the Rangers in the past week. First, they acquired RHP Jesse Chavez in exchange for prospect Tyler Thomas. Chavez owns a 3.23 ERA through 61.1 innings this season with 57 strikeouts. He’s a versatile arm the Cubs lack with Mike Montgomery currently stretched out as a starter. Thomas, 22, is pitching in Single-A with a 2.73 ERA through 79 innings. A seventh-round pick in 2017, he has decent potential.

The Cubs then worked out a deal to land LHP Cole Hamels, trading RHP Eddie Butler, RHP Rollie Lacy, and a player to be names later. Lacy is considered one of the better low-level prospects in the Cubs system, who currently has a 2.45 ERA through 80.2 innings in Class-A ball. The Rangers assigned him to High-A upon activating him. Hamels is an “educated gamble” as Cubs president Theo Epstein put it, who should benefit from the move north with an elite defense behind him. Either way, the Cubs needed to add a pitcher and Hamels was as good an option left.

To make room for Hamels, the Cubs will bump Tyler Chatwood to the bullpen. Chatwood, who has more walks than strikeouts through 90+ innings, has no business being in the rotation this year.

D-BACKS AQUIRE ESCOBAR: The Diamondbacks acquired INF Educardo Escobar from the Twins for RHP Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad. Escobar is hitting .274/.338/.514 with 15 home runs and 63 RBI on the season, and should see time all over the diamond given his versatility. The Twins land two above average bats in De La Trinidad and Maciel, while Duran has struggled to command his pitches but projects into a big arm in a few years. He’s currently 6'5'’, 175 pound, so he figures to fill out some.

METS SEND CABRERA TO PHILS: The Mets traded shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the first-place Phillies for RHP Franklyn Kilome. Cabrera is a great pick up for the Phillies who is hitting .277/.329/.488 with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs. He gives the Phillies a capable shortstop, something they have been lacking all season. Kilome has found success at each level of the minors, but is only having a decent year at Double-A Reading, posting a 4.24 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 83/51 K/BB through 102 innings. Not a terrible return for the rental considering Kilome, 23, owns a 3.51 career minor league ERA.

BLUE JAYS TRADE OH: The Blue Jays traded RHP Seunghwan Oh to the Rockies for 1B Chad Spanberger, OF Forrest Wall, and a PTBNL. Oh immediately becomes a relevant arm in the struggling Rockies bullpen, owning a 2.68 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 55/10 K/BB through 47 innings. Spanberger, 22, is an exciting prospect who owns a .315/.363/.579 line with 22 home runs and 75 RBI through 92 games at Single-A. If he continues to develop he could prove to be a nice bat in the middle of the Toronto order. Wall, 22, is struggling through his first go around at Double-A but figures to benefit from the change of scenery.

ASTROS NET PRESSLY FROM TWINS: One of the more highly sought after relievers, the Astros landed RHP Ryan Pressly from the Twins in exchange for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Pressly owns a 3.40 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and a 69/19 K/BB across 47 2/3 innings this season. The Twins receive two intriguing prospects, nothing more.

ANGELS TRADE MALDONADO TO ASTROS: In dire need of catching following the injury to Brian McCann, the Astros acquired catcher Martin Maldonado for LHP Patrick Sandoval and $250K in international bonus pool money. Maldonado is a Gold Glove catcher who provides needed insurance behind the plate while McCann recovers from knee surgery.

RAYS MAKE TRIO OF TRADES: This week, the Rays traded RHP Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox, RHP Matt Andriese to the Diamondbacks, and LHP Jonny Venters to the Braves. The Red Sox sent above average prospect Jalen Beeks to the Rays, The Dbacks traded RHP Brian Shaffer and C Michael Perez, and the Braves sent $250K in international slot money.

The Eovaldi acquisition provides the Red Sox with needed rotation help, and he carries the potential to be a top 30 starter the rest of the season. He currently owns a 4.26 ERA through 10 starts with 0.98 WHIP and 53/8 K/BB. Andriese is under team control through 2021 and will be a solid middle relief arm for the Dbacks. Last, but certainly not least, the Braves reunite with LHP Jonny Venters who last pitched for the Braves in 2012 and has since undergone three Tommy John surgeries prior to making his comeback this year with the Rays. An incredible story.

CARDINALS RELEASE HOLLAND, SHAKE UP ROSTER: It has admittedly been a tough year for the Cardinals who recently fired manager Mike Matheny. Late last week, the Cardinals decided to cut ties with closer Greg Holland after he posted an atrocious 7.92 ERA through 25 innings. The Cardinals also designated Tyler Lyons for assignment, traded Sam Tuivailala to the Mariners for relief prospect Seth Elledge, and recalled prospects Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson.

CARDINALS ACQUIRE SHREVE, GALLEGOS: The Cardinals sent 1B Luke Voit plus international bonus money to the Yankees for pitchers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve isn’t having the best year but has shown an ability to be an effective reliever at times. He owns a 4.26 ERA, 1.50 WHIP through 38 innings this year, but was on the chopping block all year due to roster space. Gallegos has pitched well in Triple-A this year and figures to see time with the Cardinals down the stretch. Voit, 27, is hitting .299/.391/.500 with nine home runs in Triple-A and could see some time with the Yankees as right-handed bat off the bench. Voit never figured to see much time at first with Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez. A necessary trade for both sides.

ORIOLES SEND BRACH TO BRAVES: The Braves acquired reliever Brad Brach from the Orioles in exchange for international bonus pool money. Brach has posted 4.85 ERA, 1.77 WHIP and 38/19 K/BB through 39 innings this season. This seems like a low cost to pay for the right-hander, although international bonus money is often misunderstood in terms of its value. Brach owns a career 3.16 ERA in 397 career appearances.

*** RUMORS & NEWS ***

RAYS’ ARCHER DRAWING SIGNIFICANT INTEREST: While the Rays asking price remains sky high, several teams are reportedly in serious discussions regarding the All-Star starter. However, Archer’s All-Star status has admittedly been a mirage the past three seasons. Since 2016, Archer owns a 4.13 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 3.61 FIP in 84 starts. In that time, he owns a 10.37 K/9 and 47 quality starts.

NATIONALS STILL TALKING REALMUTO: The Nationals are reportedly still engaged in talks for Marlins catcher JT Realmuto. The Marlins are on insisting on outfielder Victor Robles and shortstop Carter Kieboom in any deal, and the Nationals still seem interested in moving forward. That is a sign the Nationals are serious about making a run this year and being in a position to compete in 2019. Currently six games out of first, could this really be how the Harper era ends? I’m betting there’s still a move or two in the cards.

PHILLIES, INDIANS INTERESTED IN GALLO?: The Phillies and Indians have reportedly checked in on the availability of Rangers first baseman Joey Gallo. Gallo is hitting .190/.306/.458 with 25 home runs and 56 RBIs. He’s struck out 138 times to just 53 walks. While some advanced stats may suggest value here, he’s really just a one trick pony.

FIERS, LIRIANO ON THE MOVE?: The Tigers appear likely to move pitchers Mike Fiers and Francisco Liriano. They won’t fetch much for either but as we’ve seen this week there’s intriguing prospects to be had for above average talent.

VLAD JR. PROMOTOED TO TRIPLE-A: At long last, the Blue Jays promoted third baseman Vlad Guerrero Jr. to Triple-A Buffalo. Guerrero, 19, hit a prodigious .402/.449/.671 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI through 61 games at Double-A New Hampshire. The promotion comes just one day after your writer bought tickets to see him play against the Double-A Bowie Baysox. Oh well.

ROX SIGN HOLLIDAY: The Rockies signed outfielder Matt Holliday to a minor league deal. Holliday will report to Triple-A Albuquerque. Holliday hit .231/.316/.432 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs last season with the Yankees and presumably retired. Holliday was a 7th round pick of the Rockies in 1998 and played with the organization through the 2008 season. During the 2008–2009 offseason, Holliday was traded to the Athletics for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. Less than a year later, he would be traded to the Cardinals where he would play through 2016. It’ll be interesting to see whether he gets any meaningful playing time.

TWINS RECALL MIGUEL SANO: After an extended stint in the minors, Miguel Sano has been recalled by the Twins. In 29 games, Sano hit .309/.425/.468 with four home runs and 17 RBIs. Conditioning was a major issue for Sano and his demotion was in part to get himself on track to finish the season strong.

HALL OF FAME WEEKEND: This weekend, six former big leaguers were inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Alan Trammell and Jack Morris are joined by Vlad Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome. Here’s a fun article worth checking out on the new inductees.

*** INJURY BUG ***

STEPHEN STRASBURG, Nationals: Strasburg went on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck. While fans feared the worst, Strasburg was given a shot in his neck and if all goes well could rejoin the rotation sooner rather than later.

KRIS BRYANT, Cubs: Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant received some good news from an MRI last week which showed the pitcher has no structural damage in his left shoulder. While there’s no timetable for his return, it’s good news that he is likely to rejoin the Cubs sometime in August.

YU DARVISH, Cubs: Darvish has been out since May but is inching towards returning after throwing a 23-pitch bullpen session and being encouraged by the results. He still has a few weeks to go but the Cubs are hoping he’ll be ready for the home stretch.

BLAKE SNELL, Rays: Rays ace Blake Snell went on the DL last week with shoulder fatigue but is on schedule to return this week.

AARON JUDGE, Yankees: Judge has been diagnosed with a chip fracture in his right wrist and will be out at least three weeks. He may require an expedited rehab assignment, which would likely come with the Triple-A Railriders or Single-A Tarpons who have home stands around the end of the month.

YOENIS CESPEDES, Mets: Cespedes had season-ending surgery last week on both of his heels. The recovery timetable is 8–10 months which will stretch into the early part of the 2019 season. It’s a tough blow for the Mets who still owe him about $65 million through 2020.

JOSH BELL, Pirates: Bell lands on the DL with a strained left oblique. His timetable to return is not entirely clear at this time.

COREY DICKERSON, Pirates: The red-hot Corey Dickerson has also landed on the DL.

RAFAEL DEVERS, Red Sox: Landing on the 10-day DL with a strained hamstring. The 21-year old is hitting .245/.295/.425 with 15 HR and 52 RBIs.

CARLOS CORREA, Astros: Correa fielded ground balls over the weekend as he works his way back from a back issue that’s kept him sidelined since late June. He could be nearing a rehab assignment.

JOSE ALTUVE, Astros: Altuve is going on the disabled list with right knee discomfort.

JOHNNY CUETO, Giants: There’s concern in the Giants organization that Cueto’s sprained elbow may still be showing issues, a sign that surgery may be required. That’s all speculation until Cueto meets with team doctors, but the prognosis coming out of this weekend’s start is not good.

ANDREW MILLER, Indians: He’s off on a rehab assignment. Finally!

*** WHO’S HOT WHO’S NOT ***

HOT

VICTOR MARTINEZ, Tigers: Not saying he’s turned a corner, but Martinez is hitting .385/.448/.654 with two home runs and six RBIs in the past week. Nice to see him turn it up a little bit.

NICK AHMED, Diamondbacks: In the past week, Ahmed is hitting .333/.364/.619 with nine RBIs. The Dbacks will need his timely hitting if they figure to make a run at the postseason.

MARCUS STROMAN, Blue Jays: Stroman has had a rough season but is coming off two strong starts, posting a 1.98 ERA through 13.2 innings with 10 strikeouts.

NOT

TYLER CHATWOOD, Cubs: Chatwood is having an appalling season. He owns a 4.98 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, and 85 walks to 82 strikeouts. His best WHIP in a single month was 1.47, and he’s only had three starts with fewer than three walks. Chatwood moved to the bullpen following the addition of Cole Hamels and he figures for mop up duty, or as I put it, pitch until you give up a walk duty.

REYNALDO LOPEZ, White Sox: Lopez has had his share of ups and downs this year but as of late he’s been particularly bad. In his last five starts he owns a 7.39 ERA and 1.79 WHIP. This is still a year for him to work out the kinks, but as things go worse and worse you have to wonder if there’s not concern within the White Sox organization.

JESUS AGUILAR, Brewers: Aguilar blazed the trail into the All-Star Break, hitting 15 home runs from June to the All-Star break. Since the break, he’s gone 4-for-28 with seven strikeouts. He figures to get it going soon, but his slow start is noteworthy.

*** TOP PICKUP(S) OF THE WEEK ***

SONNY GRAY, Yankees: While Sonny Gray may not seem like the best option if you are looking for pitching, there is good upside to grabbing him if he’s available in your league. If all goes as plans his opponents for the rest of the season are as follows: 8/1 vs. BAL, 8./6 @ CWS, 8/11 vs. TEX, 8/16 vs. TB, 8/22 @ MIA, 8/27 vs. CWS. While this is purely speculation it should be noted that he has gone 2–0 in his last 3 starts posting a 1.12 ERA/0.93 WHIP in 16.1 IP.

*** FEATURED TRADE CANDIDATE ***

MATT HARVEY, Reds: Harvey has had his share of ups and down this season with the Reds. In 13 starts, Harvey owns a 4.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 51/15 K/BB through 68 innings. The Reds have made trading him their top priority and have identified the Mariners and Brewers as top trade candidates. Another team could emerge given how quickly the starting pitching market moved last week.

Potential Trade Partners: Brewers, Mariners, Nationals, Athletics