Todd Tips Trade in Tribe’s Favor

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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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Erik Manning

I’ve never seen Todd hit 94, 90 is more like it, but he mixes sinker/cutter/slider/change well and really knows how to pitch. I know BA and others wrote he could hit 94 but I’ve never seen anything resembling that velocity. That said, I totally agree. They gave up too much for an extra win or maybe less from DeRosa.


It seems like velocities tend to get exaggerated in prospect reports at times, at least in some cases. Maybe they are going off what someone can hit in a workout just firing it in there for the gun instead of what he pitches at? I don’t know, but I’ve never seen Todd throw that hard either. It wasn’t unusual to see him in the high-80s when he was up in St. Louis, even out of the bullpen. Maybe he can hit 94, but it doesn’t seem like that’s what he’s comfortable pitching at.

I agree as well. DeRosa’s bat is certainly an improvement, but with what he gives back with the glove on the infield, expecting more than a win improvement is a stretch, even assuming the Cards don’t lose anything by not having Perez and potentially Todd in the bullpen for the second half of the year. I don’t think that’s enough return to justify giving up both these pitchers.