Not every donut comes with a hole, and not every trade gets my approval…if that means anything!
Welcome back to the second and last part of Deadline Deals recap, this time analyzing trades I hated, those swaps that either made no sense and/or where unbalanced in traded players value for each team.
I don’t usually hate trades that much albeit I’m a huge prospect hugger, so that I’m always skeptical of trading even my 29th ranked prospect, yet sometimes you have to give to get. When you give too much to get too few, or give to get something you don’t need or could have got for cheaper elsewhere, here goes my hatred.
Let’s jump straight into the fray!
Trade I hated #1: New York Yankees acquire Harrison Bader from the St. Louis Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery
On paper, this trade makes perfect sense: the Cards desperately needed someone to soak up quality innings with the sole immortal Adam Wainwright and Lizard King Miles Mikolas as viable rotation options; New York on the other hand sits pretty but giving more DH/RF time to Judge instead of burdening him with CF duties could preserve him come October.
Montgomery and Bader are also projected for the same value, slightly less than 3 WAR for both albeit in different positions, so that’s also not a problem.
It comes down to a couple considerations: first of all, one of the most underrated attributes for a player in availability.
Montgomery is quietly one of the best #3 in the league, a reliable lefty that is rarely great but always gives an honest six innings and a chance to win, and most importantly he punches the ticket and gets to the post. Can’t say the same for Bader: he has yet to appear in Yankee stadium as he’s in the IL for a bout of plantar fascitis and is scheduled to come back only in September.
When trading for the future a franchise usually sells current value for Future Value in terms of prospects, but not this time: the Yankees gave away their current #3 starter for their current, but future, CF and while their values check out availability does not, although that is a minor issue considering the standings.
There’s a major problem though: turns out that Montgomery was not that expendable. After the Montas trade, more on that later, New York has no SP depth left and half of the rotation has injury red flags, with Luis Severino back in the IL, Jameson Taillon a glass cannon and Domingo German not the most dependable of arms.
When this kind of trade, ML for ML player, happens, that is usually a swap from positions of power and depth, a 4th outfielder for a bullpen piece or a #5 starter.
This time New York gambled on the health of his rotation for a meager return in the name of CF defense that could have come far cheaper as in a Brett Phillips or Jose Siri. Time will tell, but if even a single Yankee starter catches the injury bug, things are going to get troublesome in the Bronx.
Value is always the primary factor, but where that resides is also an important aspect: a 2 WAR starter and a 2 WAR outfielder are not the same if the latter is your 5th OF option while the former is your #3 rotation guy.
Trade I hated #2: New York Yankees acquire Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino from the Oakland Athletics for Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Luis Medina and Cooper Bowman
Sorry Yankees fans but I’m not really into what Brian Cashman did in early August!
This is more of the usual: trade ain’t bad in terms of value as no 60 FV prospect was given away to get back a solid #2 starter and a reliever, yet it’s the nature of those prospects that is the problem for New York.
Let’s start from the big pieces though: Trivino was once a lockdown closer and now just another RP so there’s that, but Montas was one of the prized trade chips in the market and the best SP available after Luis Castillo went to Seattle for a ransom.
That doesn’t mean he’s a good fit though: a groundballer with power pitcher stuff, Montas throws a ton of high octane sinkers, routinely 96–98 mph, and a couple of secondaries in a decent slider and one of the best non-Ohtani splitters in MLB. For all that sink though he doesn’t get many groundballs and gets hit pretty hard: his sinker is not always on point and that’s why he’s been complementing it with a 4-seamer, a pitch he ought to throw more.
Not a control artist, he gives up some walks but the real problem is air contact: while in the Coliseum he had room to let his outfielders do their job, Yankee Stadium and those porches ain’t that forgiving. He’s also going to benefit albeit minimally from a better IF defense, but that doesn’t erase concerns on a possible HR/9 skyrocketing. Also, watch out for his health: he’s just back from an IL stint due to shoulder issues, which is quite the scary proposition.
To get them the Yankees didn’t give up Peraza nor Volpe, and that is good. They gave up two MLB ready SP options, and that is bad: Waldichuk is a LHP top 100 prospect, 50 FV, with average stuff, deception, sterling control and good pitch shapes; Sears is his diluted version, a 40 FV with less stuff and control but one who can do his #5 duty. Medina is also a former top 100 and still a 50 FV but more of a multi-inning weapon or late inning reliever on account of elite stuff, 100 mph heat and dirty breaking ball, and 30 control; finally Bowman is a lottery ticket bat with contact issues.
If the price is right, even a bargain for NY, the reasoning behind it is not: after Montgomery, here goes more depth at a crucial position, so while one comes back far better in the form of Montas, two are gone and there’s not much left after the 5 slots in the Yankees rotation.
A team that didn’t need much to be competitive in the Playoffs added useless risk in an area where risk should be avoided as much as possible: if a Gerrit Cole or Nestor Cortes gets hurt, there’s not much Aaron Boone can do outside of bullpening or calling up some random AAA arm hoping for the best, and hoping is not what you want to do come October.
Trade I hated #3: New York Mets acquire Darin Ruf from the San Francisco Giants for JD Davis, Thomas Szapucki, Nick Zwack and Carson Seymour
There are trades I hate for roster considerations and whatnot, there are trades that are clearly unbalanced in value, hello Chris Archer, and then there are trades making no sense whatsoever.
The Mets decided that trading JD Davis for JD Davis wasn’t fair enough, so they added three pitching prospects for the disturb…curious!
That’s not exact, but not that far from reality: Ruf is more of a pure platoon bat, a LHP destroyer with a bit of positional versatility, while Davis has nowhere to field and a worse but split-less bat. They are both projected to provide 1 WAR moving forward, and while Ruf will make for a beefy 1B/OF tandem with the likes of Daniel Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin, Davis will get the lion’s share of ABs somewhere in the Giants lineup.
A pure 1–1 swap would have made perfect sense given both teams’ needs and rosters, a 1–4 is maybe the most head-scratching trade of the year bar the Montgomery one: Zwack is a depth SP, a sinkerballer with decent contact results, and Seymour is old for his level and not much of a projectable pitcher.
Szapucki is the odd name out: a former top 100 prospect, a hard throwing LHP whose control and health issues stopped him from being a reliable starter, he has all it takes to be a dominant reliever and even a multi-inning one if needed, with good results in the Minors and a forgettable cup of coffee in the big leagues.
There’s not much else to say: you don’t usually trade a player for his carbon copy, with different traits but same production levels, and you don’t usually tend to give up even more for that, but maybe the Mets saw something in Ruf and they didn’t see a fit for Davis.
If Szapucki figures out how to stay on the field and gets the RP power up on his fastball, which was already pretty fast as a starter, this is going to bite the Mets and provide the Giants a piece they could even trade for more Future Value in the next year or two.
Much to my chagrin, there’s no August waiver trades anymore, no Verlanders to Houston and such, so your team’s roster is pretty much set in stone outside of possible reinforcements coming from the Minors, the Grissoms and DL Halls of the world.
This means that’s it for trades, and that’s it for Deadline Deals as far as 2022 is concerned. My alter ego GM will be back in the offseason, with Free Agents hitting the market and more talent to sell your farm for in the trading block.
Until then, may your dealing and wheeling be fruitful and bring your team to the promised land!