The Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals organizations officially closed the book on the Mark DeRosa trade when right-hander Jess Todd was sent to Cleveland on Sunday as the Player to be Named Later. The Indians also received second-year reliever Chris Perez, 24, when the trade originally occurred on June 27, 2009.
The addition of Todd to the deal swings this trade in Cleveland’s favor, even if you don’t consider the wrist injury to DeRosa (torn tendon sheath), which has slowed the veteran infielder. Yes, DeRosa is a valuable player, but both Perez and Todd have set-up man and/or closer potential in the back end of Cleveland’s bullpen. These are not just two right-handed, middle-relief pitchers. Perez, a former supplemental first round draft pick, already has eight career saves in 78 MLB games. DeRosa, 34, is also a free agent after the season.
Todd, a second-round pick from 2007, has saved 24 games in triple-A this season. Last year, the 23-year-old hurler made 24 starts over three minor league levels and posted solid numbers. He performed both roles in college, as well, and has the potential to develop into a No. 3 Major League starter, if Cleveland chooses to place him back in the starting rotation.
Todd’s numbers in triple-A this season as a reliever have been excellent. In 49 innings, he’s allowed 39 hits with a walk rate of 2.39 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 10.84. He’s also allowed just three home runs and he’s limited opposing batters to a line-drive rate of 14%. His repertoire includes a plus cutter, a fastball that can touch 94 mph, and a good slider.
Cleveland paid a reasonable price to acquire DeRosa this past off-season from the Chicago Cubs. I took a look back at the trade last week. The Indians essentially gave up one B-level pitching prospect in Jeff Stevens, and two C-level pitching prospects in Chris Archer and John Gaub. All three prospects, though, have seen their values rise in 2009. In trading DeRosa mid-season, the Indians got back a young MLB reliever with closer potential (and experience) and a low A- or high B-level prospect in Todd (as well as half a season of DeRosa’s production). In other words, Cleveland bought low on DeRosa and then sold high on the veteran. The Indians did not win just one DeRosa trade; it won both.
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