The Felipe Lopez Trade

Yesterday the Diamondbacks traded Felipe Lopez to the Brewers for a pair of minor leaguers — outfielder Cole Gillespie and right-handed reliever Roque Mercedes.

Well out of contention, Arizona dumps about $2 million worth of salary while netting a couple of “C” grade prospects in the process. Cole Gillespie is your prototypical tweener. He’s already 25-years old, his offensive profile fits better in center field but his lack of defensive skills limit him to an outfield corner. He did put together a strong offensive season (.396 wOBA) while battling a toe injury last year for Double-A Huntsville, but his production has been way down this year (.330 wOBA). Over the past two seasons he’s shown some moderate power and good patience. While he’s scuffled recently due to some injuries, he’s an MLB-ready fourth outfielder. As for Mercedes, he has a decent fastball/slider combo and has moved from starting to relief this past season. He’s closing games for the Brewers’ High-A affiliate and will be 23 this winter.

You would think that the quartet of Casey McGehee, Craig Counsell, Bill Hall and Mat Gamel would be enough options for second/third base, but apparently the plan is to send Gamel back to Triple-A. After terrorizing Pacific Coast League pitchers, Gamel has been striking out in 40% of his plate appearances in the majors and could stand to benefit from some more seasoning back in the minors. ZiPS projects a .331 wOBA for Lopez the rest of the season. Lopez should never play shortstop, but he won’t hurt the Brewers defensively playing second base (career UZR/150 -0.4 at second, -11.2 at short). All in all, he looks like a 1 WAR player the rest of the way.

For a minor splash, I can’t help but wonder about some of the ripples this deal could cause. The perplexing J.J. Hardy could shown the door soon, and Counsell could slide over to short while Alcides Escobar put the finishing touches on his game in the minors. Right now at least, it looks like McGehee/Counsell will form a platoon at the hot corner. There’s also some speculation that this is a preliminary move for the Brew Crew to make a move for some pitching.

This is a small win-small win deal if there ever was one. Arizona dumps some salary, the Brewers get a little better offensively while allowing their top hitting prospect to gain a little more experience.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

9 Responses to “The Felipe Lopez Trade”

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  1. Joe R says:

    Commenting just to say this blog post reminded me of how Jon Heyman had Lopez on his “best free agent signings list” of 2009 at #15, and didn’t once mention Russell Branyan.

    How I love the MSM.

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    • D Wrek says:

      Branyan must not be a Boras client.

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      • Joe R says:

        Of course, why didn’t I think of that?

        Guess who is? Felipe Lopez. Come to think of it, Heyman did list some Boras boys way higher than they should be (I-Rod #8 for example).

        God I hate Heyman. How has this guy not been outted by better writers yet?

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  2. Ben says:

    Actually, there’s more value in the deal than just a starter-caliber 2B for the Brewers. Their lineup has been plagued by a lack of a decent (or even semi-decent) leadoff hitter; Lopez adds a steady bat and some speed to that spot. I’m not a big fan of Doug Melvin, but this was a nice little boost to what’s been a problematic lineup.

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    • Joe R says:

      Seems like Lopez is only a minor upgrade from what Counsell’s given them.

      Didn’t really mortgage the future, though, so I guess it’s fine. Guess the two low end prospects is worth the extra 10-15 pts of OBP and 15-25 pts of SLG in this case.

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  3. trwi7 says:

    Counsell doesn’t bat like that anymore. Here’s a picture of his new stance.

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