DBacks Land Closer, Further Build White Sox Core

The easiest part of the three-way Mark Trumbo trade to forget was the White Sox’s part. Given that we all call it the Mark Trumbo trade, of course a lot of interest followed Trumbo to the Diamondbacks. And given that it was the Angels giving Trumbo up, people have wondered about the return. But the White Sox were in there as a necessary component, and they arguably got the best of it, turning Hector Santiago into one-time quality Arizona prospect Adam Eaton. Eaton, now, is considered a potential part of the long-term White Sox core.

Monday, the White Sox and Diamondbacks struck again, and this time there was no third party. Being a team in little present need of a closer, the Sox gave up Addison Reed. Being a team in little present need of an extra third baseman, the DBacks gave up Matt Davidson. The focus for Arizona, again, is getting better right away. And the focus for Chicago, again, is adding another potential part of the long-term White Sox core. While it’s a trade I wouldn’t want to call lopsided, I like it more for Rick Hahn than I do for Kevin Towers.

Towers critics and cynics should be able to have a field day with this. After all, the general manager went after a label. With Trumbo, Towers wanted proven right-handed power. Reed, meanwhile, is a proven closer, with 69 saves the last two seasons. He looks the part an awful lot more than Brad Ziegler does. Davidson’s a talented prospect, blocked at the moment, and this might reek of Arizona focusing more on what he can’t do than on what he can. And just because a guy is blocked doesn’t mean a situation can’t change, and it doesn’t mean the guy has to be sold quickly for a better immediate fit. This’ll be a fairly easy trade to pick apart.

I don’t think it’s that simple, and I do think there’s a case for Arizona. The case relies on Reed’s talent and remaining team control, and on an honest evaluation of Davidson’s most likely future. Arizona might not come away regretting this at all.

Reed’s a week and a half away from 25, and he debuted in early September 2011. What he has in front of him are four years of team control, including one at a near-league-minimum salary. He’s by no means a short-term acquisition; it’s entirely possible he’ll be closing in Arizona through 2017, if not beyond. Though he’ll never be confused for Craig Kimbrel, he’s a lower-tier kind of effective, and though he’s an extreme fly-baller moving to Arizona, he’s also leaving one of baseball’s most dinger-friendly bandboxes. He’s a fine pitching moving to what’s ultimately a similar kind of park.

Over the last two years, Reed has posted an 81 FIP-. Jim Johnson comes in at 80, and the A’s picked up both him and his eight-figure salary. Grant Balfour comes in at 82, and by the time the offseason’s over he might have a new three-year contract. This past season, Reed lowered his rate of contact allowed, and he throws about two-thirds of his pitches for strikes. He’s allowed a lot of fly balls, but he hasn’t allowed a lot of home runs. You can understand how Reed’s been able to keep his job.

You can also understand why there might be some nervousness. Right there, one of Reed’s strengths has been keeping fly balls in the yard, and his numbers look a lot less impressive if you look around that. The Diamondbacks were happy to get rid of Heath Bell specifically because too many baseballs flew out, in between the strikes and whiffs. For a closer, even a few extra dingers a season are memorable and significant. There’s also the matter of Reed losing velocity between 2012 and 2013, especially in last season’s final couple months as Reed seemed to wear down. There’s been no diagnosis of anything wrong, but while Reed sat around 95 miles per hour a couple years ago, last August and September he was hovering around 93. He walked eight batters in his last seven games.

Maybe, these are red flags. Alternatively, maybe Reed’s able to keep on racking the saves up. In that case, it’s worth acknowledging that he could be in line for some real money in his arb-eligible years. It’s estimated that Jim Johnson will have gotten more than $17 million over his last two years, and Johnson didn’t really start closing until 2012. Cost-controlled assets are vitally important organization resources, because they make for relative bargains, but within that population of relative bargains, closers tend to be relatively expensive. The outlook is that Reed should be all right, and a year from now he’ll start costing millions of dollars.

So, that might seem a little gloomy. The last two years, there are a ton of similarities between Reed and new teammate David Hernandez. Between 2011-2012 for the Diamondbacks, Hernandez pitched well, allowing fly balls but not allowing home runs. Then the home runs came in 2013, and now Hernandez is down the depth chart. These things can happen fast. But in exchange for Reed, Arizona gave up a project. It was a sensible time for Davidson to be subtracted from the Diamondbacks, and it was a sensible time for him to be added by the White Sox.

Three years in a row, Davidson was a top-100 Baseball America prospect, although he didn’t get higher than 88. Marc Hulet just ranked him third in the Arizona system. He’s 22, he’s powerful, and he’s improved to the point where he looks like he can be a real third baseman for a while.

Davidson is a real prospect, who’s close to the majors, and for that reason he’s a real potential asset. The big issue remains his ability to make contact, and without gains in that department, he’s unlikely to be of all that much use.

In a brief trial in the majors, he made just 64% contact. In Triple-A, he made a below-average 71% contact, and he didn’t do enough other things well to be much more than average overall when you adjust for his park. He did make more contact in Double-A the year before, but he was still below the league mean, and that was at a lower level. Davidson doesn’t miss because he swings too often, or because he’s over-aggressive — he just misses, in the zone and out of it. He’s a fly-ball hitter, and whiffs are a side effect.

He isn’t a player who adds value on the bases, and he isn’t a player who’s going to add a lot of value in the field. Davidson has boosted his own defensive stock, but his career is going to come down to his bat, and he’ll either need to make more contact or do a more consistent job of turning the contact he does make into well-hit fly balls. Given that he walks some, he’s capable of perfectly fine OBPs, but it could end up a question of whether the power offsets the whiffs. Of course, being 22 until the end of next March, it’s not like Davidson is necessarily running out of time.

He didn’t have a place in Arizona, not with Trumbo in the outfield and therefore Martin Prado at third. There was the possibility that Davidson’s stock could go down with another year in Reno. There’s nobody blocking him in Chicago, and right now Davidson looks like the White Sox’s probable Opening Day starting third baseman. He’s a risky sort of prospect, but now he’s in line for an extended opportunity, and at least this year there won’t be much pressure on the White Sox to win, aside from what’s self-inflicted. So the organization can worry less about winning each game, and more about doing what needs to be done to maximize player development.

Davidson could be a long-term piece. He could bust, but a bad team is better off swapping a possible long-term reliever for a possible long-term infielder. In the Eaton trade, the White Sox turned a low-ceiling possible long-term starter into a possible long-term outfielder. In the Avisail Garcia trade, they turned a short-term starter into a possible long-term outfielder. The Sox also paid for Jose Abreu, and Chris Sale is under contract for a long time. There’s a core there that might take shape around the staff ace. There are also a lot of questions, and the core is by no means proven, but it hasn’t taken Hahn long to infuse the upper levels with players who could be around for a while.

At the end of the day, competitive teams need better bullpens, and rebuilding teams need better players. The Diamondbacks upgraded their bullpen. The White Sox upgraded their future. Rick Hahn seems to have done better than Kevin Towers did, and for the second time in a very short while, Hahn has added to Chicago’s potential core at Arizona’s expense.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


87 Responses to “DBacks Land Closer, Further Build White Sox Core”

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  1. MikeS says:

    As a White Sox fan, I don’t mind giving up Reed. Relievers come and go and have limited value. Reed was nice, but he wasn’t the second coming of Mariano Rivera or even Bobby Jenks. I like the return of a young position player with upside. I just wonder at Rick Hahn’s continued infatuation with hitters that strike out a lot.

    He is getting better. Most of the kids he picked up last year have a 4:1 K:BB ratio and Eaton and Davidson are better than that.

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  2. SKob says:

    Just seems like they moved the same kind of hitter to the OF a couple years ago and are now verging on giving up on him – Viciedo. Are these not similar batters? Who closes now… Nate Jones? If they spend money on a guy, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

    Just seems strange, but I guess with solid 3B’s being pretty rare right now, it was a good deal and worth the risk. Just don’t love Davidson… For the going rate of middle relievers/closers, feels the the DBacks did pretty good.

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    • nada says:

      Viciedo walks less than half as often as Davidson on a rate basis (in MLB and AAA, too).

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    • prawn says:

      Not that similar: Viciedo’s walk rates will be about half of Davidson’s.

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    • Yinka Double Dare says:

      Viciedo was also not ever going to be close to average at 3B with the glove. He’s pretty terrible in LF too.

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    • Cidron says:

      Who closes? Look at the list of available closers that are sitting by without a team, waiting for their agent to work out a deal with somebody… ANYBODY! They can pick and chose, and sign a closer cheap for a year or two.

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    • Ryan says:

      I’d vote for Daniel Webb, who didn’t allow an extra-base hit to the first 46 batters he has faced in his MLB career (and the next would be #47) and who breezed through the minors last year.

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    • SKob says:

      WOW! I just read all the comments to my post and I am very amused. So the only real comparable between players is walk rate… good job guys! How about the part where they are both high K guys with Davidson being worse. How about the comparable minor league wOBA’s and wRC+? Are you Fangraphs readers?

      Yeah, Viciedo was a worse fielder, but Davidson will not be pretty and was recently considered for a move 1B. Not even OF! Good luck with that!

      And Cidron – really? Yeah, they can just scoop up Chris Perez or Jose Valverde on the cheap… that should work. Good lefty relevers are getting 5 mill a season, how is a descent closer getting under 7-8? You want to argue they can find an in-house option (like Ryan did), I’ll go with that, but a cheap free agent… wasteful!

      Way to put some thoughts in the comments boys! At least Ryan has a brain!

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  3. Cardinology says:

    Reminds me of the three way trade that sent out Trevor Bauer and brought Gregorious back. Looks like the D-Backs are willing to bail on prospects they think are fatally flawed before their value craters.

    Not saying Bauer can’t rebound or Davidson will fall apart, just that it seems to be a common thread in the D-Back’s process.

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    • Ben Gburek says:

      I don’t believe the Diamondbacks think that Davidson is fatally flawed. I just think they don’t have any room for him in their system. Then again, Kevin Towers is extremely against players who strike out a lot so I don’t know.

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      • off black cadillac says:

        Like Mark Trumbo.

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        • SenorGato says:

          I’m going out on a limb and saying there’s a world of difference between Trumbo and Davidson. I’m even going to put it forward that it’s not built around Davidson being cheaper and on prospect lists.

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    • AK7007 says:

      Cardinology’s comment makes sense to me. There doesn’t seem to be much patience in the D-Back’s front office these days. I think it might get to the ongoing argument between the camp that places a ton of value on a player who has already performed decently at the major league level, and not much on players that are still in the minors, while ignoring the fact that each group has a decent chance to bust or do well at any time. Not that the odds are equal for each group, but outward appearances look as if the D-Backs place the odds of success for prospects lower than other front office teams.

      To me, it seems like the D-Backs just traded away some pretty decent insurance for when one of Prado, Hill, or Goldschmidt go down with an injury. Carson’s Steamer projections have Davidson at being roughly league average right now. That’s probably more valuable than Reed. Even stunting his development by having him replace Eric Chavez today would probably return more value than 4 years of Reed. And it’s only really close if you place value on having a “proven closer.” Matt Stites might be as good as Reed right now. For a guy whose old schtick used to be building incredible bullpens out of string and spit, Kevin Towers just made a strange move.

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      • dave says:

        “There doesn’t seem to be much patience in the D-Back’s front office these days.”

        Really hit the nail on the head. Towers makes bad moves then makes worse moves to try to offset them when they don’t work out. He had to give up a prospect with okay value in order to dump Heath Bell, who he went out of his way to acquire a year prior. After a pretty dismal year in the power department, though not entirely due to selling low on Upton, Towers demands the team acquire a “power-hitting corner OF”. Now he’s giving up parts that have value in an attempt to fix a bullpen that probably isn’t that bad, instead of looking at in-house options.

        And this isn’t the first instance of impatience, Davidson is essentially ready right now. He may experience some growing pains and I doubt he’ll set the world on fire, but he can fake his way at 3B and is very young. But Kevin Towers couldn’t wait and insisted on acquiring Prado. I was set to deal with a Chavez/Johnson platoon for a year (and this would have, bizarrely enough, ended up being really good last year but it didn’t even have to, it was just a stopgap). And in exchange for some security they gave up a very valuable asset on a team-friendly contract. Now they have essentially downgraded with Trumbo at the cost of more young talent that obviously could have fetched a higher price. If Towers had given it a year, just all-around, they would be in a much better position.

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  4. SenorGato says:

    Matt Davidson isn’t that good. What does a civilian have to do to get the kind of credit prospects get?

    Not sold on Davidson being better than Reed. Not even kinda sorta sold really, though I do like the park fit for Davidson.

    Besides price and potential long term future coreness – what’s actually better about Davidson on the field to make this such a clear White Sox victory?

    If Reed’s velocity loss is legit then I guess there’s an issue, but even then he was a good late inning arm last year in a relatively tougher run environment compared to the one he’ll see in the NL West. If there was an injury to put it on then I might worry more.

    To me Davidson’s a mediocre prospect with some glove and contact issues, but he has power. While he’s cheap that should be useful but he, like Reed, needs to take steps forward. The difference is that Reed has pitched to very successful levels in the majors while Davidson was hitting .270 and K’ing almost 25% of the time in the PCL.

    Maybe Towers is some kind of marketing genius who can’t get any attention for it. No one’s said they were wrong about the Didi/Bauer trade yet (Bauer’s still a prospect so hope reigns eternal!), and that Upton trade stopped getting any talk once Upton slowed down…Meanwhile you’d swear those guys were Bonds and Clemens in their prime moved for pennies by the reaction…

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    • SenorGato says:

      Marketing his prospects, not himself obviously

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    • Charlie says:

      The Upton deal is still laughable, especially when one considers the replacement being Trumbo (while simultaneously getting rid of Eaton and Skaggs to do so). Needless to say, Towers has made some head-scratching moves.

      This may not be one of them, but the beneficiary of this deal (White Sox) is the prospective performance of Davidson, where third baseman are more scarce than relief pitchers. Acquiring Addison Reed is good, but to the extent of giving up younger talent? Potentially, it’s not worth it. The Chicago Cubs acquiring Wesley Wright for pennies, for example, is an acquisition savvy enough to work; Kevin Towers has proven never to be savvy. This is his fault.

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      • SenorGato says:

        There’s so much wrong here that I don’t know where to start.

        - Third baseman being more scarce than relievers is not a reason this trade is good for the White Sox. Davidson isn’t even a good 3B and Reed IS a good, very good really, reliever.

        - Acquiring Addison Reed is good should have been the whole sentence. “Young talent” is Matt Davidson, who is a very meh prospect who projects to be a pretty meh player. That’s not to say Davidson will outright bust or suck, it means that he’s an unimpressive prospect and talent who’s value is being overstated because the internet strongly (most often anyway) believes that prospects are simply 6 years of gold waiting to happen.

        - Addison Reed is better than Wesley Wright. I, a Cubs fan, would pay more to acquire Reed than Wright based on what is known about these two talents. If you want savvy the Gregorious/Bauer trade is exactly that. Every numbnut out there was riding the Bauer train, he was clearly overrated, and Towers turned that into years of a starting MIFer.

        It’s incredibly suspicious that the only specific pluses mentioned about Davidson is that he’s cheap and young. There’s more to building baseball teams than that, and this is not a clear cut win for the White Sox. Not even close…

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        • Charlie says:

          It is a reason why the trade is good for the White Sox. We don’t, like Davidson, know if Reed is a “very, very good reliever.” 33% GB rate with fluctuations in velocity over the course of his career are reasons. Addison Reed and Wesley Wright may not be too far off. One took a 1.25 M contract, the other took a strong power infield talent at the age of 22.

          It’s not the players in return which causes the stir, it’s the inability to use resources effectively to acquire such talent.

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        • SenorGato says:

          Wright and Reed are probably far off. Reed doesn’t get groundballs, but he gets pop ups and those are good for a pitcher.

          Davidson also isn’t that strong a 3B talent, and anywhere else in the infield he’s even less exciting.

          See it is about the players in return. If you look at these trades objectively the D’Backs haven’t had a big miss. Even the Upton one wasn’t dramatically so, and it would look mighty even through 2013 without Chris Johnson’s season.

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      • Duplicato says:

        yes laughable that the Snakes got Prado plus 3 very good prospects for Upton. No reason to act like Upton is all that. He was 3.2 war in ’13 and Steamer has him at 3.1 for ’14 while the same projection has Prado at 3.9 fwiw.

        Drury, Spruill & Ahmed all look like very good prospects also.

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        • Charlie says:

          They extended Prado simultaneously. It took players + money to do acquire Prado.

          Prado is a fine player, but just like Steamer has Prado at 3.6 WAR, Oliver has Prado at a 10.6 WAR through 2017, while it is 15.1 for Upton. I’m not into “very good prospects” when giving up a “very good player” who is poised to be good for an elongated period of time.

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        • Duplicato says:

          but the Braves only control JUpton thru the 2015 season (2 more yrs).

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        • Charlie says:

          And the value of Upton still will outweigh the accrued value of Prado through 2016 (one more year than Upton). And yes, 2 more years for Upton. Incredible they scored that for a prospective free agent in Prado. Damn.

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        • Towers' hooker says:

          It’s hard to argue the Prado deal was a win for AZ. Hard as in impossible. Yet another example of a gm who should not be managing a baseball team

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        • SenorGato says:

          And those two Upton seasons cost a little less than 29 mililon…All three Upton seasons for the Braves cost nearly 40 million…BEFORE he hits FA. He’s at least a little overrated, and I say this as a pretty big fan of Upton.

          Towers should just hire himself a publicity agent.

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        • Duplicato says:

          Justin Upton is prob the most overrated player in baseball.

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        • Charlie says:

          Then overrated baseball players must be hard to find.

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    • mr33 says:

      Was part of his marketing strategy for Bauer drafting him #3 overall the year prior to the trade? I can’t see how he should be given credit for not overvaluing Bauer like the Indians when he acquired him with such a valuable pick.

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      • Z..... says:

        to be fair, Towers didnt draft Bauer

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        • ValueArb says:

          To be accurate, he did.

          Towers drafted Bauer despite being told Bauer would not change his highly unique game preparation, and also gave him $4.5M.

          Then team officials praised Bauer when he dominated minor league hitters all the way up throughout the hitters paradise in Reno.

          Then when Bauer struggled in his MLB debut, Towers & Gibson started ripping him for the same unique game preparation he’d always had.

          Then they traded him for the mediocrity of Didi Gregorius and after hitting like Babe Ruth for a week and half, Didi was one of the worst hitters in MLB baseball for the remainder of the year. And now Towers is trying to trade Didi because he finally figured out that he has a much better SS prospect already in the organization. He still never figured out that the Cliff Pennington he gave up his centerfielder for is as good as Didi will ever be.

          I’d still rather have Bauer because if he figures it out, you have a front rotation starter locked down for years.

          But Towers apparently would rather have 3 short stops so he can dump 2 later.

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        • Z..... says:

          Towers was not the GM when that happened. Jerry Dipoto drafted Bauer. so again…to be accurate and fair, Towers didnt draft Bauer

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        • Z..... says:

          I’m not saying that changes the fact that he sold very low on a guy the organization passed on Dylan Bundy to draft, but I think we should at least be fair in mentioning that at least he wasnt the guy that drafted him after everything

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        • Belloc says:

          Z….:

          Bauer was picked by Kevin Towers.

          Kevin Towers became GM of the D-Backs in September 2010. Bauer was drafted in June 2011. DiPoto was interim GM for less than three months before Towers was hired in 2010. DiPoto resigned from the D-Backs organization the same day Towers was hired.

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        • dave says:

          C’mon Z….. just admit you were wrong. Everybody makes mistakes.

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        • Z..... says:

          I guess I was wrong…why is it that everyone always says that Towers didnt draft him?

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      • SenorGato says:

        They had two first round picks in the top 10. Bauer combined talent with signability, and they then went on and were able to land, IIRC anyway, the highest or second highest paid HS player in that draft in Bradley.

        He turned the #3 pick from a guy who walks 5 per 9 in the minors to a starting MIF making league min. Win.

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      • SKob says:

        The Golden Spikes Award is very misleading. Towers must be held solely responsible for drafting a bust and making a horrible decision. (Sarcasm – Golden Spikes Award = best amateur player)

        And not to pile on Z…, since he was clearly wrong about who the GM was, let’s make sure Bundy’s arm is in one piece before we rip the teams who passed on him! Minor league hype pre-surgery is only worth so much!

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    • AK7007 says:

      “Not sold on Davidson being better than Reed.”

      Davidson wouldn’t need to do much to be better than Reed in 2014 and beyond. For relievers, absolute most you could ever get tops out around 3 WAR/season. Reed though, isn’t at that elite level (73rd best reliever in baseball by TIPS in 2013), and probably is going to put up between .5-1.5 WAR/season. Davidson does not need to do much to beat that, just play average defense, take some walks, knock a few out of the park. You would have to put extreme amounts of value on high-leverage innings or blindly think that saves=good in order to think Reed is better in 2014.

      What Reed likely is though, is a player that fits on the D-Backs roster today. That’s why Kevin Towers made the trade. Davidson wasn’t going to be used in 2014, double so if they bring back Chavez. It gets back to idea that Towers isn’t interested in getting a good deal in a trade, only in getting the player he is interested in. It just won’t make sense from a value standpoint because that’s not the logic being used in the decision making process.

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      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        If you got around 0.7-1.0 WAR from late inning leverage, which IIRC is reasonable though I don’t have the FanGraphs article, it’d put it up to 1.5 WAR/2.5 WAR/season. They’d probably squeeze more value from Reed if he was used less like a traditional closer.

        I’d say this is a win for both sides, D-Backs get a good reliever who can provide value in high leverage, White Sox get a flawed but potentially good prospect.

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        • SenorGato says:

          Towers has already addressed the closer thing. He said he doesn’t know about all that – see the man lives in the baseball world of 2013 rather than just says he does – but he will be pitching in important situations.

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      • SenorGato says:

        “Davidson wouldn’t need to do much to be better than Reed in 2014 and beyond.”

        He’s a future Coredation piece of a team attempting to build a championship squad One Day, so I would submit that he does. If I’m the D’Backs I’m not crying over the spilled milk that would be Matt Davidson being marginally more productive than the LIR they just landed to pick up wins ASAP.

        WAR probably, likely even, underrates relievers. Apparently so do the fans…We’re in a numbers age, everyone notices that SP throw less and relievers throw more, but no one (outside baseball, teams are very clearly paying well for it inside) wants to adjust how they view relievers.

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        • AK7007 says:

          “We’re in a numbers age, everyone notices that SP throw less and relievers throw more, but no one (outside baseball, teams are very clearly paying well for it inside) wants to adjust how they view relievers.”

          Just because you can’t succeed with a crappy bullpen doesn’t mean you should pay full price.

          The thing that Towers was famous for is how he built all those crazy San Diego bullpens for next to nothing, and then would flip those suddenly “Proven” arms for something better. And now, he’s building a bullpen for full price, buying high on other people’s relievers. He used to be the guy that could take a group of failed starter/waiver claim/rule 5/minor league free agent guys and suddenly have a great ‘pen that he could then trade for good things and repeat.
          http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/tom_verducci/11/13/padres.relief/1.html

          I’m a Giants fan, but it irks me to see GMs harm the long-term health of their organization to be marginally better this year. Towers isn’t the force to be reckoned with like he was with the Padres, which is disappointing from a competitive standpoint. I think the comment (I think it was on the Trumbo analysis) that Towers is slowly pissing away good players is pretty true.

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  5. Z..... says:

    I dont believe that the White Sox got Matt Davidson for Addison Reed…Maybe I should though. KT just continues to make these strange moves over the last year and a half. They did need a back end of the bullpen arm, but wow…He recently said that his team doesnt care about winning trades, and is prepared to use his assets to get who he wants. That thought process is very shortsighted. It explains what he has been doing these past couple of years, but man…I hate the idea of the Marlins possibly being like that. We need to maximize our assets…The White Sox made out on this philosophy for the 2nd time in less than a week. First they get Adam Eaton, and now they get the 3rd baseman they desperately needed for an overrated bullpen arm they can easily replace…Just curious, where were we on this? We’re even more desperate for a 3rd baseman than the White Sox were, which is saying something

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  6. Brian McCann says:

    Matt Davidson is the next Mark Reynolds.

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    • JJ says:

      Dan Szymborski:

      236/312/410, OPS+ 93 for Davidson in Chicago. Amusingly, his top comp is Mark Reynolds.

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    • SenorGato says:

      I wouldn’t even be surprised. The sell is now that he’s super cheap Mark Reynolds! Reynolds wasn’t half bad actually as a young hitter, but it didn’t last long.

      Davidson would probably be ecstatic if he’s as interesting a player as Reynolds was in his younger days.

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    • ValueArb says:

      If that’s true it means Davidson is going to hit. 257/.338/.500/.839 with 89 home runs the next three years.

      And Hahn got that for a reliever? Wow!

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  7. Slats says:

    This frees up the closer spot for Chris Sale.

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  8. Ken Harrelson says:

    “Stretch!”
    “You can put it on the board! Yes! Yes!”
    “He gone!”

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  9. MLB Rainmaker says:

    I personally think these prospect deals get blown out of proportion in terms of the value of the prospect. Davidson is a nice prospect, but I don’t think anyone sees him as a face-of-the-franchise guy in the next 3 years. He’s a free-swinger, that has showed slightly above average power and average AVG. He doesn’t seem like a guy that will hit 30HR or hit .300, and the scouting reads like he’s got a long swing that may not translate well at the MLB level to even make him a regular.

    From the AZ perspective, that team is building to compete in the next 2-3 years so with that perspective I like the move. From CHW perspective, Reed isn’t arb eligible this year, but will be next, which as a closer his salary likely jumps up $3.5M+ just for have the SV column filled on his stat sheet. And that team does have a good amount of RP talent.

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  10. Duplicato says:

    Didn’t the A’s get much more for 2 yrs of Andrew Bailey? Seems like the Pirates got more for 1 yr of Joel Hanrahan. Getting 4 cheap yrs of a good (not great) closer for a 3B prospect who we don’t know is as good as WIll Middlebrooks seems pretty reasonable to say the least… not to mention that he had no chance of getting any daylight in AZ any time soon.

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  11. Ben Gburek says:

    Kevin Towers seems to extremely over value bullpen pitchers. I understand the need to trade Davidson, but I think we could have gotten more than just Reed out of this trade. Davidson may not be an All-Star, but theres a pretty good chance he’ll end up hitting 20-25 HRs a year.

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    • Duplicato says:

      it’s hard to criticize this deal from the Snakes side. Davidson is a lottery ticket who looks like he *might* have the ceiling of Will Middlebrooks and with worse defense. 4 cheap yrs of a pretty good closer for a team set to contend looks fine, even a good swap to me. Had Davidson played even a half yr and there was a good if small sample to go on, I could understand some of this criticism but there isn’t. It’s just KT hating, nothing more. People do have a tendency to overweight prospects in some parts today.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        High K/High BB is way different than High K/Low BB (Middlebrooks)

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      • ValueArb says:

        Since when is a 22 year old who already projects as a league average 3B a “lottery ticket”? I guess he is if you realize that if he figures it out he’s a perennial all-star, and if he doesn’t he likely only a cheap and very serviceable third baseman for the next 4 years, worth far more than a so-so “closer”.

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    • SenorGato says:

      When do we start considering that fans undervalue the bullpen and relievers? It’s not like these guys are going cheap.

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      • Whappy says:

        The highest WAR a relief pitcher produced last year was 3.3 and Addison Reed is never going to produce like that. It’s not a matter of fans undervaluing relief pitchers. It’s that relief pitchers are not that valuable when compared to any other position in baseball.

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        • nada says:

          WAR isn’t a good stat to evaluate relief pitchers with, because it assumes an average Leverage Index for the player, whereas relief pitchers are consistently used with higher LIs.

          Not that it changes your point–relief pitchers aren’t as valuable as most other player types–but they aren’t as useless as WAR says they are, either.

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        • Trotter76 says:

          To add to Whappy’s point, the other problem with comparing WARs and building a team is that while we can say “You can always find relievers” Towers gets to bring a particular handful of outside guys plus the kids in his system and pick his 8 best out of Spring Training. To get a guy who’s already proved capable of getting MLers out is one less wild card, and for a guy that got burned all last year by having the wrong guys as it turned out, I could see him wanting someone he doesn’t feel he has to worry about for the 9th.

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        • Trotter76 says:

          Oops, nada’s point.

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  12. AR says:

    I see Davidson as a poor man’s Mark Reynolds with passable fielding. That’s if he can stick in the Majors.

    It’s hard not to be skeptical of a guy with such high K rates and not being able to put up at +.900 OPS in the PCL with such a heavy reliance on power.

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    • nada says:

      The thing is, a not-terrible-fielding Mark Reynolds is actually a solid player. Reynolds contributed in his last three seasons -60 runs worth of defense, which is absolutely brutal. Assuming 0 there, Reynolds is worth ~2WAR/season, roughly. Probably not coincidentally, this lines up perfectly with Oliver’s 5-year projections of Davidson. Not fantastic, but average and cost-controlled players are perhaps a good place for the White Sox to start building a decent team.

      I just wish that there was more upside to this guy. Although I think Davidson will be a decent player, with that kind of profile he will probably never be a great player. I guess there’s always hope that he figures things out and stops K’ing. I doubt it, though.

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    • ValueArb says:

      Davidson was the 5th youngest hitter in the PCL last year. He was 50th in OPS, but 47 of the top 50 were older than him with an average age of 26. Of the top 20 none were as young as Davidson, and 17 were 25 years old or older.

      The year before, he was 13th in the Southern League in OPS, and tied for youngest out of the top 30 hitters.

      It’s not hard to be skeptical of your analysis when you make the strange assumption that age doesn’t matter and that Davidson peaked at the age of 22 and can’t improve when the peak years for hitters are years away for him.

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  13. tz says:

    Jeff’s concluding point:

    “At the end of the day, competitive teams need better bullpens, and rebuilding teams need better players.”

    The way some of these comments have come in, you’d swear he was eviscerating Arizona for giving up a Wil Myers-type prospect for a poor man’s Heath Bell. Sounds to me like this is a classic today-for-tomorrow trade, and a possible win-win at that.

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    • MLB Rainmaker says:

      HA! If he would have ended there, I’d agree with you, but the line right after that reads:

      “Rick Hahn seems to have done better than Kevin Towers did, and for the second time in a very short while, Hahn has added to Chicago’s potential core at Arizona’s expense.”

      To me that reads pretty clearly that the author doesn’t see this as a win-win.

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      • LaLoosh says:

        yeah I could be wrong but I don’t recall Boston’s FO receiving the type of criticism we see here of Towers when they traded Josh Reddick and Miles Head for just 2 yrs of Andrew Bailey.

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        • AK7007 says:

          There were more moving parts in that one. Ryan Sweeney also went to the Sox, and Alcantra went to the A’s. At the time, it felt to me like it was almost two trades – a challenge trade of averageish outfielders (although Boston probably knew they were giving up the better one) – and trading an injury prone closer for two lukewarm prospects. At the time, “mainstream” sites like yahoo sports liked the trade more for Boston, because “proven closer.” I don’t think analytical types were huge fans of the move, but the logic behind it was at least something you could follow, that maybe each team was giving up similar value. (in retrospect they weren’t, but we need to look at things from the point of view when the decision was made)

          The criticism of Towers here is that he’s giving up the better value. It’s not known that he could have done better, but because of the volatility of relievers, it feels strange to see good potential traded for not very much. The criticism is that he is very focused on trading away future value in order to win today. The question he is going to have to answer eventually is how he’s planning on winning in that future timeframe if he keeps giving up more than he gets back.

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        • Duplicato says:

          had Reed been closer to FA, then your points would have some validity. Reed is controllable for 4 more yrs and as an experienced late inning pitcher should be able to hit the ground running. People are making the mistake of assuming too much about Davidson. He appears to be a nice prospect but even with 2 additional control yrs, it’s far from a sure thing that he’s going to perform at any more than 1 win above repl. It’s a lottery ticket in the sense that there is a big variance in Davidson’s possible outcomes until he establishes some baseline. Given that these 2 teams area at different stages right now, the idea that the Sox made a good deal for themselves *and* the Snakes also made a good deal for themselves aren’t mutually exclusive outcomes.

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      • tz says:

        I see this as a win-win, but I think Jeff’s point is that Arizona gave up more for their short-term goal than the White Sox did for their long-term goal.

        And I admit, I might have such a low set of expectations for Towers’ trade acumen, that this trade looks good for Arizona simply in comparison with his other moves over the past few years.

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  14. sdcarp says:

    The comments are far more entertaining than the article! It seems like they’re about 50/50 – so I’m calling this trade even.

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    • AK7007 says:

      Most of the ones calling it for the D-backs though rely on “proven closer” being a thing, and Davidson being “unproven.” I don’t know that I would want to be in that camp. Probably is pretty close as you said, but for different reasons than D-backs commenters think.

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      • SenorGato says:

        I actually think it’s the other side trying desperately to slap “closer” on the player so as to tie the connotation of closer (it’s negative in intermediate fan world these days)to Reed. If you look at it as adding a strong, young pitcher to a staff of 11-12, a pitcher who has late inning experience in a tougher run environment, then this is an excellent deal and an excellent gamble.

        Also, it’s not that Davidson is unproven. It’s that Davidson has a long track record of: 1 – playing in very hitter friendly environments in the minors 2 – mediocre at best 3B defense and 3 – a huge amount of K’s despite the very friendly offensive environments in the minors. It’s pretty proven that Davidson is not a top prospect, but rather a prospect who projects to be mediocre. It’s mediocre with power, so that he some advantages (Cellular is a GREAT field to hit too), but nowhere near worthy of this kind of article/reaction.

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  15. Z..... says:

    What could the D-Backs have gotten in return if they packaged Skaggs, Eaton, and Davidson? It definitely feels like they could have done better than Trumbo and Reed

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    • tz says:

      I dunno….maybe Doug Fister?

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    • nada says:

      Yeah, that’s weird. Two “meh” trades vs. one maybe good one. Probably they just couldn’t find a team who wanted all 3 and were willing and able to give up something really good in return. The White Sox, for instance, probably wanted all 3, but don’t have sufficient “right-handed power” (cause I hear that’s a big thing now) to provide the proper trade-bait.

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  16. dave says:

    Before we continue, can anybody tell me where the idea that the 2013 Dbacks’ bullpen was irredeemably awful comes from? Obviously it was flawed, Putz and Hernandez turned in markedly worse performances than their previous two years, Heath Bell suffered from the long ball, and probably more stuff I’m forgetting. But people who cite blown saves might be forgetting that the Dbacks were still 5th in bullpen WPA, admittedly their WPA- was 5th but their WPA+ was the highest, by a lot in fact. They were just put into way too many high-leverage situations, and inevitably blew a few of them. That specific team could have benefited from fewer reliever meltdowns, sure. But how is anyone to know that going into a season? Things were completely different the season before, way fewer leverage situations. I don’t think there’s any way to guarantee or suspect that the Dbacks will be in a similar situation next season. I agree that WAR for relievers can be misleading, but too much of it is just random noise so using WAR to compare relievers is the best available solution.

    But of course these comments are full of people citing minor league batting average and claiming that closers are more valuable than position players.

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    • dave says:

      I guess as an addendum I don’t believe it was any good, even if there was an element of luck to it. The problem I see is that you can only really say the Dbacks’ bullpen was bad if you believe in bullpen WAR, in which case you’d obviously realize that Reed isn’t worth much, certainly not a 22 year-old 3B (even if he’s not a “sure thing”) with less service time.

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  17. srpst23 says:

    I’m probably biased since I’m a Pirates fan and have watched about 20 years of these “proven” player (however you want to define proven) for prospects deals and can say that despite winning the trade on paper many times, the Pirates rarely won the trade when it was all said and done. Granted we had some less than competent GMs over the past 20 yrs. Here is a fangraphs article from a few years back going over the bust rates of top 100 prospects, which Davidson barely qualifies as:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/dose-reality-prospect-watchers/

    This study states that 43% of top 75-100 prospects “bust”, defined as becoming an “average” position player.

    So really the Dbacks acquired a relatively “proven” reliever and the Sox recieved a lottery ticket with a 57% chance of being average at 3B. I cannot see how this is a slam dunk win for the White Sox.

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    • nada says:

      except that at a 57% chance at an average 3B is pretty good for a team starting Conor “Replacement Level” Gillaspie at 3rd for 134 games a year.

      Average players are a good thing to have, just not at every position. Right now, for the White Sox, who were 30 games back in their division, average players are a great thing to have. Their roster was truly brutal last year.

      Nobody says it was a slam dunk win for the Sox, that’s a strawman. If anything it was a roughly even trade which may have favored them. As you point out, most of the trade depends on Davidson busting or not. If not, the Sox won–they’ll get 2-3WAR per year for several years of Davidson, almost certainly more than what Reed is worth. If Davidson does bust, they gave away a good RP with 4 years of team control for, well, nothing.

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      • srpst23 says:

        I don’t really disagree with you. I just think that this is the type of prospect you would expect to get traded for a 1 year or 1/2 year rental, not a cost controlled pitcher. If Davidson works out, then it is obviously a better deal for the Sox, just I feel they gave up a pretty good asset for a 57% lottery ticket. If this trade was made in July and included a soon to be free agent relief pitcher, then I would say it was a slam dunk for the Sox.

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  18. srpst23 says:

    Sorry to clarify: I believe a prospect was not labeled a bust if he became a “average” position player. I worded that poorly.

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