In what’s become one of the most lopsided trades we’ve seen in a long time, the White Sox traded Fernando Tatis Jr. and Erik Johnson to the Padres for James Shields and cash back in 2016. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd tries to explain how this painful deal came about for the Sox, in today’s video.
It’s easy to dream on top prospects. Such players have not only exhibited great play and immense talent, but have been hyped up yet further by those who judge young players for a living. We tend to see the “top-of-the-rotation” (!!!) and ignore the “potential” … with its implicit acknowledgement of a downside scenario.
This is nothing new to MLBTR readers. All fans have tales of prospect heartbreak — the would-be great ones that weren’t. It’s usually not too tough to diagnose where things went wrong after the fact … but how about predicting in advance? Here’s your chance.
We should note at the outset that prospect watchers have a clear preference for Gore. But it’s awfully close. Fangraphs ranks Gore third and Luzardo sixth among all prospects. MLB.com has them five and twelve. Baseball Prospectus: five and nine. Baseball America: six and nine.
Then again … Luzardo is the one that has already reached the majors. It was only a brief showing, but he sure did impress. In a dozen innings, he racked up 16 strikeouts while allowing just two earned runs on five hits and three walks. Luzardo generated an excellent 14.6% swinging-strike rate. He pumped 97 mph heat and showed a balanced, four-pitch arsenal. And he did all this at just 21 years of age (he turned 22 at the end of September) in the same season in which he worked back from a shoulder and lat injuries.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a ceiling on Luzardo. You might worry about the health risks, but the A’s were also surely exercising ample caution. Luzardo had already extended to over 100 frames in 2018. And he seems to have come through just fine. He was absurdly dominant in Cactus League action this spring. Luzardo carried a roughly 50 percent groundball rate in his minor-league career, so that’s another strength.
Whereas Luzardo was a third-round pick in 2016, Gore was the third overall choice in the ensuing draft. Does that added pedigree explain the fact that he’s seen as the better prospect? On the health front, Gore has had some blister problems, though like Luzardo he also passed the century mark in innings pitched in his second full professional season.
In terms of track record … well, Gore just hasn’t gone as far quite yet. That’s no surprise: he’s a year younger and a season behind. Gore annihilated High-A hitters last year, working to a ridiculous 1.02 ERA in 15 starts. But he did run into at least some headwind after a promotion to Double-A. Through 21 2/3 innings over five outings, Gore surrendered 4.15 earned runs per nine innings on twenty hits (three of which left the yard) with a 25:8 K/BB ratio.
Prospect watchers are looking at quite a bit more than short-sample results. And they see a future ace in Gore. Though he’s still fine-tuning some of his offerings and doesn’t throw quite as hard as Luzardo, Gore carries a highly promising four-pitch mix and is said to possess exceptional athleticism and command. If he can finish honing those offerings and figure out just how to use them, he could carve up MLB hitters for years to come.
This isn’t exactly the next Trout v. Harper debate. But it’s interesting to look at these two lefties. Luzardo arguably has a smidge more certainty having already shown his stuff at the game’s highest level. Evaluators credit Gore with a bit loftier ceiling, but he has a bit more finishing work left to do.
Which do you think will have the better career? (Poll link for app users.)
It’s not always fair to judge baseball operations leaders for free agent signings. In many cases, the biggest contracts are negotiated to varying extents by ownership. The same can hold true of major extensions. It’s just tough to know from the outside.
There’s obviously involvement from above in trade scenarios as well. But, when it comes to exchanging rights to some players for others, it stands to reason the role of the general manager is all the more clear.
In any event, for what it’s worth, it seemed an opportune moment to take a look back at the trade track records of some of the general managers around the game. We’ve already covered the Diamondbacks’ Mike Hazen, former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the Brewers’ David Stearns, the Angels’ Billy Eppler, the Rockies’ Jeff Bridich, the White Sox’ Rick Hahn, the Tigers’ Al Avila and the Braves’ Alex Anthopoulos. We’ll now turn our focus to the Padres’ A.J. Preller, whom the club hired late in the 2014 season. As you’ll see below, nobody can accuse Preller of sitting on his hands. Unfortunately for him and the Padres, the abundant trades Preller has swung haven’t yet led to any real progress in the standings for the long-suffering franchise (deals are in chronological order and exclude minor moves; full details at transaction link).
- Acquired OF Matt Kemp and C Tim Federowicz from Dodgers for C Yasmani Grandal and RHPs Kyle Wieland and Zach Eflin
- Acquired OF Wil Myers, RHP Gerardo Reyes, LHP Jose Castillo and C Ryan Hanigan for INF Trea Turner, RHPs Joe Ross and Burch Smith, 1B Jake Bauers and C Rene Rivera in three-team trade
- Acquired C Derek Norris, RHP Seth Streich and international bonus slot worth $144,100 from Athletics for RHPs Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez
- Acquired OF Justin Upton and RHP Aaron Northcraft from Braves for LHP Max Fried, OF Mallex Smith, INF Jace Peterson and 3B Dustin Peterson and international bonus compensation
- Acquired 3B Will Middlebrooks from Red Sox for C Ryan Hanigan
- Acquired RHP Shawn Kelley from Yankees for RHP Johnny Barbato
- Acquired RHP Brandon Maurer from Mariners for OF Seth Smith
- Acquired RHP Craig Kimbrel and OF Melvin Upton Jr. from Braves for OFs Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and Jordan Paroubeck, RHP Matt Wisler and the 41st pick in the 2015 draft
- Acquired RHP Cory Mazzoni and LHP Brad Wieck from Mets for LHP Alex Torres
- Acquired LHP Marc Rzepczynski from Indians for OF Abraham Almonte
- Acquired C/OF Marcus Greene and RHP Jon Edwards from Rangers for OF Will Venable
- Acquired INF Jose Pirela from Yankees for RHP Ronald Herrera
- Acquired RHP Enyel De Los Santos and INF Nelson Ward from Mariners for RHP Joaquin Benoit
- Acquired OF Manuel Margot, SS Javier Guerra, INF Carlos Asuaje and LHP Logan Allen from Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel
- Acquired LHPs Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres and OF Jabari Blash from Athletics for 1B Yonder Alonso and LHP Marc Rzepczynski
- Acquired OF Jon Jay from Cardinals for INF Jedd Gyorko
- Acquired RHP Luis Perdomo from Rockies for cash considerations or a player to be named later
- Acquired C Christian Bethancourt from Braves for RHP Casey Kelly and C Ricardo Rodriguez
- Acquired LHP Trevor Seidenberger from Brewers for OF Rymer Liriano
- Acquired RHP Jean Cosme from Orioles for RHP Odrisamer Despaigne
- Acquired RHP Dan Straily from Astros for C Erik Kratz
- Acquired INF Fernando Tatis Jr. and RHP Erik Johnson from White Sox for RHP James Shields
- Acquired RHP Chris Paddack from Marlins for Fernando Rodney
- Acquired RHP Anderson Espinoza from Red Sox for LHP Drew Pomeranz
- Acquired RHP Hansel Rodriguez from Blue Jays for OF Melvin Upton Jr.
- Acquired 1B/OF Josh Naylor and RHPs Luis Castillo, Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps from Marlins for RHPs Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea and Tayron Guerrero
- Acquired INF/OF Hector Olivera from Braves for OF Matt Kemp
- Acquired RHP Colin Rea from Marlins for RHP Luis Castillo (partially undoing prior trade)
- Acquired INF Luis Sardinas from Mariners for cash or a player to be named later
- Acquired RHP Pedro Avila from Nationals for C Derek Norris
- Acquired RHP Miguel Diaz and C Luis Torrens for INF Josh VanMeter, cash/player to be named later in three-team trade
- Acquired OF Matt Szczur from Cubs for RHP Justin Hancock
- Acquired LHPs Travis Wood and Matt Strahm and INF Esteury Ruiz from Royals for RHPs Trevor Cahill and Brandon Maurer and LHP Ryan Buchter
- Acquired INF Deion Tansel from Rays for INF Ryan Schimpf
- Acquired 3B Chase Headley and RHP Bryan Mitchell from Yankees for OF Jabari Blash
- Acquired SS Freddy Galvis from Phillies for RHP Enyel De Los Santos
- Acquired OF Edward Olivares and RHP Jared Carkuff from Blue Jays for INF Yangervis Solarte
- Acquired C Brett Nicholas from Rangers for RHP Emmanuel Clase
- Acquired RHP Phil Hughes and the 74th pick in the 2018 draft from Twins for C Janigson Villalobos
- Acquired C Francisco Mejia from Indians for LHP Brad Hand and RHP Adam Cimber
- Acquired INF Jason Vosler from Cubs for RHP Rowan Wick
- Acquired INF Esteban Quiroz from Red Sox for RHP Colten Brewer
- Acquired RHP Ignacio Feliz from Indians for RHP Walker Lockett
- Acquired OF Conor Panas from Blue Jays for LHP Clayton Richard
- Acquired RHP Matt Wisler from Reds for RHP Diomar Lopez
- Acquired RHP Franklin Van Gurp from Giants for OF Alex Dickerson
- Acquired OF Taylor Trammell for OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and INF Victor Nova in three-team trade
- Acquired RHP Carl Edwards Jr. and $500K in international bonus pool money from Cubs for LHP Brad Wieck
- Acquired OF Trent Grisham and RHP Zach Davies from Brewers for 2B Luis Urias and LHP Eric Lauer
- Acquired OF Tommy Pham and INF/RHP Jake Cronenworth from Rays for OF Hunter Renfroe and INFs Xavier Edwards and Esteban Quiroz
- Acquired RHP Emilio Pagan from Rays for OF Manuel Margot and C/OF Logan Driscoll
That’s a lot of action on the trade market, but has it been effective? (Poll link for app users)
Nearly five years ago, the Padres and Braves shocked the baseball world with a trade of star closer Craig Kimbrel. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd looks back at the blockbuster deal and its many tentacles in today’s video.
Agent Rafa Nieves’ newly-founded Republik Sports agency will represent several players formerly represented by Nieves at Wasserman. A video published earlier today on Republik’s official Twitter feed reveals the names of 11 players who will continue to be represented by Nieves at this new firm.
We already heard last night that Nationals outfielder Victor Robles (a Nieves client at Wasserman) was joining Republik, and the other ten names cited in the video include a mix of prominent veteran and up-and-coming stars. The list consists of Indians infielder Jose Ramirez, Reds right-hander Luis Castillo, Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, Athletics right-hander Frankie Montas, Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, Rockies righty Antonio Senzatela, Padres outfielder Franchy Cordero, Marlins catcher Francisco Cervelli, and White Sox relievers Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera.
As we’ve seen in several past cases of representatives changing agencies or starting new agencies, it’s quite common for players to continue using the same agent even after that rep becomes part of another company. We saw this in 2017 with Nieves himself, as several of the aforementioned players (namely Ramirez, Robles, Herrera, Colome, Cervelli, Polanco, and Montas) all went with Nieves when the agent moved from the Beverly Hills Sports Council to Wasserman.
Today is the last day in which teams can option players to the minors before the MLB roster freeze kicks in. We’ll keep track of the smaller-scale option decisions around the league.
- The Padres optioned reliever Gerardo Reyes to Triple-A El Paso, the club announced. The righty logged 26 innings in 27 MLB appearances in 2019, his first big league action. Reyes’ 7.62 ERA was certainly not what he envisioned, but he struck out a very strong 32.5% of opposing hitters behind a 15.6% swinging strike rate. Reyes averaged 96.9 MPH with above-average spin on his fastball in his MLB work and looks like a solid relief prospect for the Friars.
The Padres released infielder Gordon Beckham earlier this month, as first indicated on the Pacific Coast League’s transactions log. The move came back on March 14, it seems, although there was never a formal announcement from the club.
Beckham, 33, inked a minor league pact with San Diego early in February but had a rough showing in camp. Although he drew five walks, Beckham was also hitless in 14 at-bats. He spent the 2019 campaign with the Tigers, hitting .215/.271/.372 with six homers, a dozen doubles and a pair of triples in 240 trips to the plate.
Beckham made his big league debut just one year after being selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 draft by the White Sox. He wasn’t able to replicate a strong rookie campaign, though, and eventually settled in as a journeyman utility infielder. He’s appeared in the big leagues each year since 2009, but Beckham carries a tepid .237/.300/.367 slash in 3782 plate appearances as a big leaguer.
For the millions of fans missing baseball on what would have been Opening Day, the Strat-O-Matic gaming company will try to help fill the void by providing a simulated version of every game originally on the schedule. Today’s action included Brock Holt hitting a three-run walkoff homer to lead the Brewers to a 7-4 win over the Cubs, a 13-inning marathon between the Rockies and Padres that saw Trevor Story hit two homers in a 10-7 Colorado victory, and Chris Archer tossing six shutout innings in a 4-1 Pirates win over Archer’s former team, the Rays.
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler profiles another batch of international prospects expected to sign with MLB teams when the next international signing window opens (a date that now could be pushed back from July 2 to as late as January 2021). The Orioles, Rangers, Padres, Royals, and Rays are connected to the five players in Badler’s piece, with some contractual bonus information known for two of the youngsters. Kansas City is expected to spend “north of $1.5MM” on Dominican shortstop Daniel Vasquez, while Tampa Bay is expected to spend “a little below $2MM” on Dominican outfielder Jhonny Piron. While the dollar figures for this year’s international spending pools haven’t yet been released, the Rays already figure to have committed a big chunk of their available funds on Piron and Carlos Colmenarez, given that Badler previously described Colmenarez as “making a strong case to be the No. 1 player” in this year’s international class. This would seemingly put Colmenarez in line for a major bonus, though the Rays can always add to their international pool by trading with other teams. It’s also fair to assume that the bonus pool system could also see some type of alteration if and when the signing window doesn’t open until January.
The Rays have acquired infield prospect Esteban Quiroz from the Padres, Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen reports (Twitter link). Quiroz represents the player to be named later in the December trade that saw Tommy Pham and two-way prospect Jake Cronenworth go to San Diego, while the Rays received Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards.
The 28-year-old Quiroz is a longtime veteran of the Mexican League, only joining a big league organization after signing a minors deal with the Red Sox in the 2017-18 offseason. A year later, Quiroz was swapped to the Padres in exchange for Colten Brewer, and is now on the move again to Tampa. All the while, Quiroz has done nothing but hit since joining the affiliated ranks, with a .274/.390/.541 slash line and 26 home runs over 499 combined plate appearances at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Boston and San Diego farm systems.
Quiroz obviously has a significant age and experience advantage over virtually all of his minor league counterparts, plus his Triple-A performance in 2019 (a .923 OPS in 366 PA) has the twin caveats of coming in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and during the unprecedented offensive explosion that was the 2019 Triple-A season. That being said, Quiroz also had a strong track record at the plate before reaching the minors, hitting .293/.402/.451 over 1573 career plate appearances in the Mexican League. Quiroz only had 38 homers in those 1573 PA, so while it’s probably fair to say that his power game was aided by the Triple-A ball, his on-base skills and overall approach at the plate seems to be translating well.
As a left-handed hitter who seems just about big league-ready, Quiroz is another intriguing addition to the Rays’ depth chart. Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle, two other lefty bats, are seemingly ahead of Quiroz in terms of second base duty, though all three players have enough multi-positional flexibility that the Rays (who mix and match their lineups as much as any club in baseball) can conceivably find at-bats for any of them. Quiroz has mostly played second base over the last two seasons, though he has played shortstop and third base during his time in the Mexican League.
Looking at the five-player deal as a whole, the Rays dealt away the more accomplished MLB performer in Pham, though Pham is also older, more expensive, and perhaps a bit less defensively adept than Renfroe. While Cronenworth is a solid prospect in his own right, Edwards and Quiroz represents a nice return for Tampa Bay, as the Rays get a near-term option in Quiroz and more of a longer-term player in Edwards.
MLBTR’s Jeff Todd has already run through the American League Central and the American League West in previewing some of the interesting young talent that could surface in the Majors this season. We’ll tackle the NL West next — a particularly interesting division given the enviable bevy of young talent that has been cultivated by both the Dodgers and Padres. Los Angeles and San Diego have two of the game’s best systems, but there are varying degrees of high-end talent bubbling to the surface for all five NL West clubs…
Jon Duplantier is a former top 100 prospect whose debut effort in 2019 was slowed by shoulder troubles. He notched a 4.42 ERA and 34-to-18 K/BB ratio in 36 2/3 innings when on the roster, though he was optioned to Triple-A five times. There’s no room in Arizona’s rotation at the moment, but Duplantier and his career 2.54 minor league ERA with 10.5 K/9 will be one of the first lines of defense should a need arise. Righty Kevin Ginkel also got his feet wet in the big leagues and, after posting a 1.48 ERA and a 28-to-9 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings of relief, should have the inside track on a bullpen spot whenever play resumes.
Elsewhere in the D-backs’ system loom catcher Daulton Varsho, infielder Andy Young, first baseman Seth Beer and right-hander J.B. Bukauskas. Varsho is a homegrown talent who’s considered to be among baseball’s 100 best prospects, although the presence of Carson Kelly in the big leagues puts a roadblock in his path to Phoenix. He’s yet to play above Double-A, but a big Triple-A showing and an injury to Kelly and/or Stephen Vogt could propel Varsho to the bigs.
Young, Bukauskas and Beer were all acquired in trades — Young alongside Weaver and Kelly in the Paul Goldschmidt swap and the others in the Zack Greinke blockbuster. Arizona’s infield is stacked at the moment, but Young can play anywhere in the infield, so he’s a nice depth piece … who happened to bash 21 homers and slug .611 in 277 Triple-A plate appearances last year. Beer showed big pop of his own in a pitcher-friendly Double-A setting last season. Bukauskas will be looking for a rebound after a poor showing in Double-A.
Rox fans have been waiting since 2015 to get a good look at Brendan Rodgers, the No. 3 overall pick in that year’s draft. Rodgers has ranked among the game’s elite prospects each season since being drafted, and he finally made his big league debut in 2019 … only to undergo shoulder surgery after all of 81 plate appearances. He might open the year in the minors, but Rodgers will be looming in the event that Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson struggle or get hut. Either way, if he’s healthy, Rodgers should force the team’s hand.
Elsewhere on the roster, expect to see Sam Hilliard play a prominent role in the outfield mix. He received a similarly sized cup of coffee to Rodgers and made the most of it, raking at a .273/.356/.649 clip. Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl are locked into two spots, but Hilliard will vie for at-bats with Raimel Tapia as Ian Desmond slips further into a reserve role. Yonathan Daza could also factor in as a bench option, depending on the health of those ahead of him on the depth chart.
Someone asked me in this week’s MLBTR chat who might step up in the event of a Nolan Arenado trade, and the club isn’t short on options — including Arenado’s own cousin, Josh Fuentes. He’s already 27, though, and had a rough showing in Triple-A this past season. More intriguing options include Tyler Nevin — yes, Phil’s son — and Colton Welker.
Southpaw Ben Bowden could emerge in the bullpen, and given the uncertainty at the back of the big league rotation — Chi Chi Gonzalez might’ve been the favorite in the fifth spot — we could see either of righty Ashton Goudeau or Antonio Santos get a look.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Gavin Lux, one of the game’s top 1o prospects, will get the opportunity to claim second base as his home for the foreseeable future. He didn’t do much in 82 MLB plate appearances last season, but if you want a laugh, check out Lux’s line in 49 Triple-A games: .392/.478/.719 with 13 home runs, 18 doubles and four triples in 232 plate appearances.
The Dodgers have an embarrassment of wealth in terms of young pitching, headlined by righty Dustin May, who’s already posted a 3.63 ERA and 32-to-5 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 MLB frames. Fellow righty Tony Gonsolin impressed in his own ’19 debut, and the Dodgers added some triple-digit heat to the bullpen by acquiring Brusdar Graterol from the Twins. Behind that trio? Josiah Gray, acquired in the Homer Bailey salary dump with the Reds, posted a 2.28 ERA with 147 punchouts in 130 Double-A innings in ’19.
Catcher Keibert Ruiz is somewhat blocked by fellow youngster Will Smith, but he could be in line for a promotion should Smith sustain an injury. If there’s an injury (or multiple injuries) elsewhere on the roster, any of corner infielder/outfielder Edwin Rios, center fielder DJ Peters or Swiss army knife Zach McKinstry could get the call. Rios hit well in a limited debut last season, and McKinstry is cut from the Chris Taylor/Enrique Hernandez cloth, having appeared at shortstop, second base, third base and all three outfield slots in recent seasons. (Sometimes it feels like the Dodgers grow these guys on trees.)
San Diego Padres
You won’t find many (any?) organizations with a more tantalizing pairing of pitching prospects than lefty MacKenzie Gore and righty Luis Patino. Either or both could conceivably reach the Majors in 2020. Gore is particularly touted, generally ranking inside the game’s top 10 overall prospects after posting a sub-2.00 ERA in 20 starts between Class-A Advanced and Double-A.
Center fielder Taylor Trammell still hasn’t tapped into his raw power, but his tantalizing package of tools landed him among the game’s top 100 prospects for a third straight offseason. The Padres’ outfield has turned over in a major way, and while Trammell might need a big showing in Triple-A to force the organization’s hand, he’s not far off after spending all of 2019 in Double-A.
The Padres have plenty of players with rookie eligibility who briefly saw the big leagues this past season. Righty Michel Baez and lefty Adrian Morejon aren’t quite on that same level as the Gore/Patino combo, but they were both high-profile international signings — Baez commanding a $3MM bonus and Morejon landing $11MM — and have both been top 100 entrants themselves. (Morejon still is.) Righty Ronald Bolanos also commanded a seven-figure bonus (just north of $2MM) and briefly debuted in ’19. Reliever David Bednar was sharp in Double-A and logged 11 MLB frames with San Diego, too.
If there’s a particularly intriguing prospect here, it could be Jake Cronenworth. He’s not considered a premium prospect, but the 26-year-old posted a .949 OPS in Triple-A with the Rays last year and has been developing as a two-way player. He’s more in the Michael Lorenzen mold, so he might not get two-way designation anytime soon thanks to MLB’s bizarrely stringent eligibility requirements — essentially, only Shohei Ohtani or Brendan McKay could qualify — but he brings a unique skill set to the table all the same.
San Francisco Giants
Expect Mauricio Dubon to get a long look, perhaps even in center field. The former Brewers/Red Sox middle infield prospect played there earlier in spring and could be an outfield option, depending on how the team uses Wilmer Flores and (if he makes the roster) Yolmer Sanchez. Slugger Jaylin Davis didn’t hit much in a 17-game September cameo, but he cranked 35 long balls between Double-A and Triple-A, which should get him a look on a power-starved Giants roster.
Logan Webb could end up as the team’s fifth starter — particularly now that Tyler Beede will miss the 2020 season. Webb didn’t fare well in eight MLB starts a year ago and has been hobbled by injuries since being a fourth-round pick in 2014, but he shoved with a 1.84 ERA across three minor league levels in 2019 prior to his promotion.
The big question for Giants fans is, of course, when will they get their look at Buster Posey’s heir apparent? Joey Bart, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, has flat-out raked at every stop and is a rare, fast-rising catching prospect. He won’t turn 24 until next offseason, but Bart is a .284/.343/.532 hitter in the minors — including a .316/.368/.554 effort in a 22-game showing at Double-A last year.