MLB Trade Deadline Grades Part II

By Connor Pignatello

This is a continuation of a previous post, in which I graded trades that happened before the deadline. In this edition, I will grade trades that happened on deadline day itself.

OF Tommy Pham to the Rays for International Bonus Pool Money, SP Genesis Cabrera, RP Roel Ramirez and RF Justin Williams

Considering they are just one game over .500 and 20 games out of first place in a stacked AL East, no one expected the Rays to be buyers at the trade deadline. In fact, they even traded away two All-Stars, in pitcher Chris Archer and catcher Wilson Ramos. But, the Rays shocked the baseball world by trading for Tommy Pham, the Cardinals 2017 breakout star. In his breakout season last year, Pham batted .306, bashing 23 homers and stealing 25 bags — earning an eleventh place in the NL MVP voting. Pham’s wonderful combination of power and speed led him to a stellar 6.2 WAR — good for fourth among NL position players. However, this year, Pham has struggled to a 0.9 WAR, batting just .248 with 14 home runs and 10 stolen bases. However, Pham’s BABIP of .303 this year shows he has been incredibly unlucky, and a change of scenery to Tropicana Field may turn around his luck. If Pham is able to regain his 2017 form, the Rays just got a major steal, and if he isn’t able to repeat his 2017 season, the cost will not be too high as the Rays did not give up a top-ten prospect to get him. Pham is cheap and under team control for three more years, and this is a great low-risk, high-reward move by the cash-strapped Rays. Outfielder Justin Williams and SP Genesis Cabrera slot in as the Cardinals’ #9 and #14 prospects as St. Louis tries to build up a middling farm system.

Rays Grade: A

Cardinals Grade: B

OF Leonys Martin and SP Kyle Dowdy to the Indians for SS/2B Willi Castro

A deadline acquisition for the second year in a row, Leonys Martin is on his fourth team in the past two years. Solid at bat and in the field, Martin will surely help a Cleveland squad that has gotten awful production from its outfield. The Indians have used Michael Brantley, Brandon Guyer, Tyler Naquin, Rajai Davis, Bradley Zimmer, and Melky Cabrera in the outfield, but those six outfielders have combined for 1.0 WAR. Martin leads all AL outfielders in range factor per game and outfield assists — a sure upgrade over Brantley, Cabrera, and Guyer — who have all been negatives defensively. An above-average hitter, Willi Castro slides in at #10 in Detroit’s prospect rankings, a solid exchange for the tanking Tigers.

Indians Grade: A-

Tigers Grade: A-
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RP Brad Ziegler to the Diamondbacks for RP Tommy Eveld

The 38-year old sidearmer Ziegler returns to the desert — where he pitched from 2011 to 2016 — in hopes of igniting a postseason return for the Diamondbacks. In his six prior years with Arizona, Ziegler pitched in 348 games and notched a 2.49 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox in July of 2016. Ziegler has struggled this year en route to a 3.98 ERA and a 4.59 FIP, but has been lights-out in June and July, recording a 0.93 ERA. With additions like Ziegler, righthander Matt Andriese, and versatile infielder Eduardo Escobar, the Diamondbacks are making a real playoff push, trying to stave off both the Rockies and the Dodgers in the tight NL West. The tanking Marlins have no use for a 38-year old relief pitcher, but were not able to recoup a top-30 prospect in the deal.

Diamondbacks Grade: A-

Marlins Grade: B

C Wilson Ramos to the Phillies for a Player to be Named Later or Cash

Amidst the best offensive year of his career, Wilson Ramos is headed to Philadelphia to provide them with a veteran, middle-of-the-order bat to supplement their playoff push. Current Phils catcher Jorge Alfaro has been solid, slashing .288/.373/.500 over the past month. Ramos has been better though, batting .297 with 14 home runs in 78 games this year. However, there is a catch: Ramos has been out since July 14 with a hamstring injury and will not return until mid-August, meaning he will provide a limited impact with his new team. Trading for an injured player is always risky, but Ramos has been brilliant this year — he would have started the All-Star game if not for his aforementioned injury. The 30-year old Ramos is just a rental, but he was acquired at little cost, and will add much needed pop to the Phillies’ below-average offense. Tampa Bay undoubtedly realized the difficulty of resigning their star backstop, and will be glad to get some value for him.

Phillies Grade: A-

Rays Grade: B

2B Brian Dozier to the Dodgers for OF/1B Luke Raley, SP Devin Smeltzer and 2B/3B/1B Logan Forsythe

Supplementing their infield yet again just two weeks after trading for Manny Machado, the Dodgers added power-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier. Despite having a down year, Dozier is a substantial upgrade over incumbent second baseman Logan Forsythe, who was sent packing to the Twins as part of the exchange. Although Dozier has always prioritized power over contact, he has career-worst .224 batting average this year — much lower than his .269 average the past two seasons. In 2016, Dozier crushed 42 home runs — a single season record for a second baseman — on his way to a top-15 MVP finish. Last year, Dozier turned in another great campaign, hitting 34 homers and earning another top-15 MVP finish, as well as his first Gold Glove. Up to this year, Dozier has averaged 4.4 WAR per season, but his WAR of 1.2 this year shows that the 31-year old may have lost a step. Despite a down year, Dozier will be an immediate upgrade at second base and the Dodgers did not have to surrender much talent to rent him. Logan Forsythe has recorded a -0.6 WAR this year thanks to a measly .207 batting average, and Luke Raley comes in at #19 in a loaded Los Angeles farm system. A 10-year vet in the Twins organization, Dozier is a fan favorite, a veteran mentor to Minnesota’s younger players, and has expressed willingness to stay with Minnesota for the rest of his career, making this a puzzling decision from the Minnesota front office.

Dodgers Grade: A

Twins Grade: C

SP Kevin Gausman and RP Darren O’Day to the Braves for C/RF Brett Cumberland, 3B/SS/1B Jean Carlos Encarnacion, SP Bruce Zimmerman, RP Evan Phillips, and International Bonus Pool Money

The Braves supplemented their starting rotation and bullpen at relatively low cost, again trading bonus pool money they can’t use to the Orioles. Although Gausman’s career ERA of 4.22 is less than stellar, he is one of the best innings-eaters in baseball and has two more years of team control left. Last year, the 6’3” righty led the league with 34 starts and pitched 186 ⅔ innings, good for tenth in the AL. 35-year old Darren O’Day, although out for the rest of the year after hamstring surgery, is a reliable asset out of the bullpen and is under contract for one more year. Jean Carlos Encarnacion and Brett Cumberland were Atlanta’s 14th and 30th best prospects, respectively, so the cost for pitching depth was not too high for the young Braves, who are just a ½ away from first place in the NL East.

Braves Grade: B

Orioles Grade: B+

SP Chris Archer to the Pirates for RP Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows and a Player to be Named Later

In the day’s only true blockbuster, Rays starter Chris Archer — the subject of trade rumors since his top-5 Cy Young finish in 2015 — moves to Pittsburg as the Pirates make a late playoff push. The Pirates have gone 16-4 in their last 20 games, propelling them back into the Wild Card race. Archer, on one of the most desirable contracts in baseball with three years of team control left, will help the Pirates contend this year and for years to come. Archer owns a career 3.69 ERA and a 3.52 career FIP, and possesses a powerful fastball, devastating slider, a firm changeup, and a blazing fast sinker. However, Archer was not acquired without a heavy price, as Pittsburg was forced to part with two great young players: Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow. Formerly one of the best prospects in the game, Meadows has broken in this year with the Pirates, batting .292 in 49 big league games. Although his overall production this year has been rather pedestrian, Meadows is just 23 and has All-Star potential. Also a former top-ten prospect, Tyler Glasnow has slid into a bullpen role with the Pirates this year, notching a 4.34 ERA over 56 innings. Glasnow is an adept strikeout pitcher, as evidenced by his 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings this year, but his control problems have persisted, resulting in a ghastly 5.5 walks per nine innings this year. After years of trade rumors, Archer will be glad to finally change teams, and the Rays were able to recover significant assets from the Pirates in this swap.

Pirates Grade: B+

Rays Grade: A

2B Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers for SS/2B/3B Jean Carmona, SP Luis Ortiz, SS/2B/3B Jonathan Villar

Adding to their already loaded lineup, the Brewers continued their pursuit of the NL Central title with their acquisition of power-hitting second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Schoop played like a star last year, batting .293, smacking 32 homers, driving in 105 runs, and recording a 5.2 WAR. Schoop parlayed those stats into an All-Star appearance and a 12th-place finish in the AL MVP voting. This year however, Schoop has struggled a bit, batting just .244 but still managing to hit 17 home runs. Schoop’s 1.2 WAR is actually worse than the man he’s replacing, Jonathan Villar, who has notched a 1.4 WAR this year. Milwaukee is obviously banking on the 26-year old Schoop to regain his 2017 form and supplement their already-stacked infield. Villar, already a member of rebuilding squads in Houston and Milwaukee, will join Baltimore’s rebuild for the next three years he’s under contract. The speedy Villar, who led baseball with 62 steals in 2016, is still a very serviceable and versatile infielder at 27 years old. Luis Ortiz, who came to Milwaukee in 2016 as part of the Johnathan Lucroy deal, is the fourth-best prospect in the Brewers’ farm system and is ranked as baseball’s #52 prospect. Ortiz profiles as a potential #2 starter and is a great addition to Baltimore’s newly-strengthened farm system. Although the Brewers gave up valuable assets in Villar and Ortiz, Schoop is one of the better second basemen in the league, and still has a year of team control left.

Brewers Grade: B

Orioles Grade: B

 

Special thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for these helpful stats, MLB.com for the prospect rankings, and The Sporting News for the transaction list.

You can find more posts like this at my blog, The Full Court Press.



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I write a blog called The Full Court Press (thefullcourtpress.net) which covers buzzer beaters, bunts, blitzes, bicycle kicks and everything in between. I'm a high school student who really enjoys writing about sports. I write about baseball, football, basketball, and soccer. Sports writing is incredibly fun for me and it's what I want to do later in my life.

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Earl of E

Both of these pieces are excellent for anyone, let alone a high school student. Keep writing!