Trade deadline roundup: Analyzing the day’s smaller deals
- Analyzing the smaller deals that went on before baseball’s trade deadline, including the trades of Francisco Liriano, Steve Pearce and Ivan Nova.
The trade deadline has passed, and with it came a flurry of deals across baseball. We've already covered some of the major ones, but we didn't want to let the day's other, smaller moves go unrecognized. With that in mind, here’s a quick roundup of some lesser deals around the league.
All stats are as of Monday, Aug. 1.
Pirates trade LHP Francisco Liriano and two prospects to Blue Jays for RHP Drew Hutchison
Jon Tayler: While Liriano has been terrible for Pittsburgh this season (a 5.46 ERA and 75 ERA+ in 113 2/3 innings with a major league-high 69 walks allowed), he's a worthwhile gamble for Toronto, given that he's only a year removed from a 3.38 ERA and 115 ERA+ in 186 2/3 innings. That's all the more true given that the Pirates, apparently desperate to be rid of the remaining $13 million-plus left on Liriano's deal, threw in two prospects: 21-year-old catcher and 2014 first-round pick Reese McGuire and 21-year-old outfielder Harold Ramirez. Both were ranked in the bottom half of Pittsburgh's top 10 by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com before the season, with Ramirez cracking the global top 100 for BA and BP and McGuire doing the same in MLB.com's and BP's lists.
That's a lot for the Pirates to surrender just to dump an underperforming pitcher, especially since a return to form for Liriano would make his $13 million salary next year a bargain. But Pittsburgh giving up on a pitcher isn't a great sign for his future value. And at the least, the Pirates didn't come up empty-handed, getting Hutchison in return. The 25-year-old righty hasn't been much better than league average in his three-plus seasons with Toronto, but he gets strikeouts and doesn't give up walks and should make for a decent back-end starter/Triple A depth. If pitching coach extraordinaire Ray Searage can work his magic and get Hutchison to stop giving up so many home runs (career rate of 1.3 per nine), the Pirates may once again have turned trash into gold, albeit at quite a cost.
Rays trade IF/OF Steve Pearce to Orioles for C Jonah Heim
Jon Tayler: After a four-month sojourn in Tampa Bay, Pearce returns to the team with which he broke out in 2014. A rough 2015 season killed Pearce's value heading into free agency, leading to a low-money one-year deal with the Rays, but the 33-year-old utility player bounced back in a big way in Florida, hitting .309/.388/.520 in 232 plate appearances. He'll jump into a utility role and be a valuable depth piece in Baltimore. The return on him, 21-year-old Heim, isn't much. The former fourth-round pick has struggled to hit throughout his minor league career and was batting just .216/.300/.344 for High A Frederick.
Twins trade LHP Fernando Abad to Red Sox for RHP Pat Light
Jon Tayler: Your jokes about this being “Abad” deal for the Red Sox aren't funny, but ironically enough, this is a good trade for Boston. The 30-year-old lefty has been a weapon out of Minnesota's bullpen this season after being acquired from the A's over the winter, with 29 strikeouts in 34 innings. His control isn't the hottest (14 walks in that span), but he is death on lefthanded hitters, holding them to a paltry .163/.192/.265 line in 52 plate appearances this season. That'll fly in the Red Sox' banged-up bullpen, which has been hit hard by injuries and lacks a top-flight lefty. Plus, Abad is still under team control for another season.
As for the Twins, they did well to get a live arm for a lefty specialist. Light is a big righthander (6'6") who sits 94–97 mph with his fastball and can touch 100, but his command is average and his secondary pitches are still a work in progress. Still, the 25-year-old has been stellar in the minors this season, with 36 strikeouts in 31 innings, and could be a useful reliever down the line.
Rays trade OF Brandon Guyer to Indians for two minor leaguers
Jon Tayler: Guyer won't move the needle in Cleveland, where he'll become a platoon outfielder used primarily against lefties (he's tattooed them for a .344/.488/.594 line in 82 plate appearances against them this season) and who can play in all three spots as needed. The real news here is what his addition does to the roster: With him in place, the Indians have apparently handed utility infielder/fourth outfielder Jose Ramirez the full-time third base job, resulting in the designation for assignment of Juan Uribe. The 37-year-old has been dreadful this season (.206/.259/.332 in 259 plate appearances), so this is a net gain on the field, but Cleveland will be sure to miss his gregarious, wonderful presence in the clubhouse. Here's hoping Uribe lands somewhere soon so we can keep getting more stories about his fantastic ways.
Astros trade RHP Scott Feldman to Blue Jays for RHP Guadalupe Chavez
Jon Tayler: Toronto continues to stack pitchers by picking up Feldman from Houston. The righthander has been fantastic out of the bullpen for the Astros, with a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings as the team's swingman and long reliever. His ability to start, meanwhile, will help the Jays with the impending move to the bullpen of Aaron Sanchez, who has been terrific in the rotation (2.71 ERA, 155 ERA+ in 139 1/3 innings) but is coming up on an innings limit. For now, he'll take the long relief spot of Jesse Chavez, who is headed to Los Angeles. Speaking of Chavez...
Blue Jays trade RHP Jesse Chavez to Dodgers for RHP Mike Bolsinger
Jay Jaffe: This one makes more sense from the Dodgers' standpoint than that of the Blue Jays, particularly in the context of the day's other moves. The going-on-33-year-old Chavez's overall ERA and FIP (4.57 and 4.80) aren't pretty thanks to his allowing 14 runs and five homers in his last 15 2/3 innings, and he's allowed 15 of 31 inherited runners to score. On the other hand, he's whiffed a batter per inning, and before that deluge, he had a 2.45 ERA; he fits the bill as the kind of Arbitrary Endpoint All-Star I thought we'd see moving around this week. General manager Farhan Zaidi is certainly familiar with him from his 2012–15 run with the A's (Zaidi left for the Dodgers after '14), where he served as a swingman. He could fill that role again for the Dodgers, according to Zaidi, but it seems more likely that he'll find his way into lower-leverage spots replacing Chris Hatcher, who was lost for the season a couple of weeks ago due to a Grade 3 oblique strain and wasn't pitching well at all (5.53 ERA, 5.20 FIP). Chavez is making $4 million and can be a free agent after this season.
The 28-year-old Bolsinger was a useful rotation stopgap last year for the Dodgers, when he pitched to a 3.62 ERA and 3.91 FIP with 8.1 strikeouts per nine in 21 turns totaling 109 innings. Amid their injuries this year, however, he was cuffed for a 6.83 ERA in six turns from May 18 to June 18. He's been working out of the bullpen at Triple A Oklahoma City since then, with a 3.41 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts per nine in 29 innings. He's most likely a Triple A depth piece to replace Drew Hutchison, who was traded to the Pirates in the Francisco Liriano deal.
Twins trade RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Alex Meyer to Angels for LHP Hector Santiago, RHP Alan Busenitz
Jon Tayler: On the surface, this is a strange one for Los Angeles. Santiago hasn't been great (4.25 ERA, 5.03 FIP, 94 ERA+ in 120 2/3 innings), but he's still 28 and under team control for another season, and he was useful last year, even earning an All-Star nod. Giving that up for Nolasco's putrid results (5.13 ERA and 82 ERA+ this season in 124 2/3 innings) and even worse contract ($12 million in 2016 and '17 with a team option for '18 that will be turned down with record speed) makes little sense, although the Twins are picking up the rest of Nolasco's salary this season and tossing an extra $4 million into the trade.
Getting Meyer was likely the key here for the Angels. The former first-round pick (No. 23 in 2011) and giant (6'9") was once a top-25 prospect, but a miserable 2015 season and shoulder troubles have dimmed his star considerably. Still, he's just 26 and averages 95 mph with his fastball. Whether that's worth absorbing Nolasco's miserable deal is questionable, though.
Pirates trade LHP Jon Niese to Mets for LHP Antonio Bastardo
Jon Tayler: This is a reunion most Mets fans probably preferred never happened. Sent to Pittsburgh for second baseman Neil Walker over the off-season, Niese never benefitted from the Ray Searage magic, with a 4.91 ERA and 84 ERA+ across 110 innings. The Pirates moved him to the bullpen earlier this month, and that's where he'll likely be for the Mets, unless the team wants to give him a shot at replacing Logan Verrett in the fifth starter role.
In exchange for Niese, the Pirates get a reunion of their own by taking on New York's mistake in the form of Bastardo. Signed to a two-year, $12 million deal this winter after posting a 2.98 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh last year, the 30-year-old lefty was awful for the Mets, with a 4.74 ERA across 43 2/3 innings. Bastardo is giving up home runs in bunches (1.6 per nine) and getting walloped by lefties (.934 OPS against), both of which dropped him far down Terry Collins's depth chart in the bullpen. Where he'll slot in with the Pirates remains to be seen.
Marlins trade RHP Colin Rea to Padres for RHP Luis Castillo
Jon Tayler: This is less a trade and more a return. Rea, the second piece in Friday's deal that sent Andrew Cashner to Miami, left his first start with the Marlins with elbow pain after just 3 1/3 innings and was placed on the disabled list with an elbow sprain. As such, the Marlins demanded recompense despite the fact that they reportedly looked over Rea's medicals before the original deal and found nothing out of order. With Rea heading back to San Diego, the Padres are returning Castillo, a hard-throwing 23-year-old Dominican and one of Miami's top prospects. Losing Castillo hurts, especially given the bizarre circumstances, though San Diego apparently was reluctant to trade Rea in the first place.
Yankees trade RHP Ivan Nova to Pirates for two PTBNL
Jon Tayler: Kudos to Brian Cashman for finding a way to get something for Nova, who had demonstrated repeatedly that his on-field results were never going to match his stuff. After a fantastic 2013 season in which he posted a 3.10 ERA and 129 ERA+ in 139 1/3 innings, the righty has been flat-out awful, with just 212 innings over the last three years and a miserable 5.31 ERA. A free agent after the season, Nova was a lock to be either dealt or released; that the Yankees are getting anything for him is a minor miracle. As for the Pirates, they'll add Nova to their seemingly endless list of bargain-basement pitchers to try to resuscitate. The odds on that one are long.
Angels trade RHP Joe Smith to Cubs for RHP Jesus Castillo
Jon Tayler: He's not the most interesting name (literally), but Smith, a 32-year-old righthander, has been a passable and at times excellent reliever across his major league career. In 2014, he filled in as the Angels' closer when Huston Street was hurt and picked up 15 saves and a 1.81 ERA, striking out 68 over 74 2/3 innings. The last two seasons haven't been anything special (a collective 3.67 ERA), and his soft-tossing ways (his average fastball velocity this year is 88.2 mph) won't miss many bats. But his sidearming style makes him a useful tool against righthanders, and he won't be asked to throw high-leverage innings for a Cubs bullpen that already has Aroldis Chapman, Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop. The prospect heading to Los Angeles, 20-year-old Castillo, throws hard and gets strikeouts (38 in 33 innings this year), but having just reached low A ball, the Venezuelan righty is still years away from MLB relevancy.