Saturday, December 7, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Pham, give up Renfroe in five player deal

          The San Diego Padres have acquired OF Tommy Pham and SS/RHP Jake Cronenworth from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for OF Hunter Renfroe, SS Xavier Edwards and a player to be named later.

          Pham has joined the long list of quality players the Rays traded after not being able to afford. Pham is only in his second season of arbitration, but he is already 31, so he will probably get a nice raise that was too much for Tampa Bay. This could re-start the cycle with Renfroe giving them a quality season(s) until being shipped off for more assets. For a team like the Padres, Pham is a great addition. While Renfroe is a great player, Pham can steal 20 bases and hit 20 home runs, walk 70 plus times a year and hit .270. He is also a pretty durable player. While Pham's one defensive run saved in 2019 is not great on the outside, in his 160 games in the outfield for the Rays, Pham did not make an error. He makes all the easy plays, which is sometimes what you need in a defender. Ever since Pham broke out in 2017 with the Cardinals, he has averaged 21.6 home runs a season, 21.6 stolen bases, has a .284 batting average and an OPS of .380. His WAR adds up to 13.6. However, His lowest WAR in that three year stretch came in 2019, with a 3.3 WAR. Pham has a career OPS of .844 and an OPS+ of 126. His age might scare away suitors, but he is still not a free agent until 2022, and will be arbitration eligible every year until then. In 2019, his only full season in Tampa Bay, Pham had a .273 batting average, with 21 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a career high 654 Plate Appearances.

          The least spoken about person involved in the trade is also the most intriguing player. Jake Cronenworth was the Rays' 17th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and he will slot into the same spot in the Padres' organization. Cronenworth will be 26 next month and hasn't made his MLB debut yet, which isn't appealing, but Pham did not make his debut until he was 26 and was not a regular until he was 29. A .312 hitter for the University in Michigan, Cronenworth also had 27 saves in his three years there. In 2015, the Rays picked him in the 7th round. In his first three minor league seasons, Cronenworth was primarily a shortstop, but with AAA Durham this past season, Cronenworth was given a pitching chance as an opener. Pitching in seven games (six starts), Cronenworth struck out nine batters and allowed four hits and no earned runs in 7.1 innings. While pitching for Durham, former MLB 50 home run hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton where rehabbing against the Bulls. Cronenworth struck out Stanton and got Judge to ground out, showing he can get major leaguers out. Cronenworth's offensive numbers are impressive as well. He hit .334 with 10 home runs and a .934 OPS with Durham. With rosters expanding to 26 men, Cronenworth could make the Padres if he has a good spring.

          The replacement to Pham for the Rays will be Hunter Renfroe. Not to be confused with the Raiders' receiver with the same name, Renfroe's 2019 numbers don't look amazing. He hit .216 with a 31.2% K rate and a .778 OPS. However, Renfroe hit a career high 33 home runs. But he could have hit more if it wasn't for a terrible second half. Going into the all star break, Renfroe hit 27 home runs. He also had a .252 batting average, and a .921 OPS at that time. He is also a good defender, with making just one error and finishing with a 13 DRS. The first thing the Rays will try to do with Renfroe is figure out how he had an insane first half and work on stretching that out for an entire season, or as long as possible. While Pham is a top of the order guy, Renfroe is a middle of the order hitter. To replace Pham's presence at the number two hole, the Rays could keep Yandy Diaz, Austin Meadows and even Ji-Man Choi at the top two spots in the lineup, with Renfroe, Brandon Lowe and Avisail Garcia in the middle of the order, if Garcia re-signs. The Rays could add another discount bat to replace Garcia.

           Compared to Cronenworth, Xavier Edwards is a much more heralded prospect. Edwards was the 5th best prospect in a stacked Padres system, and is now the sixth best prospect in an equally stacked Rays system (all according to MLB Pipeline). Overall, MLB Pipeline has Edwards as the 72nd best prospect in all of baseball. The 20 year old is a long way from the majors, reaching as high as High-A. In 2019, Edwards had a .322 batting average with 34 stolen bases. He is not a power hitter, with just one home run. The 38th overall pick in 2018, Edwards might already be blocked in the Rays system. They have two young middle infielders in Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe starting at the major league level. Also, the 39th best prospect in all of the MLB is Vidal Brujan, another Rays prospect. Brujan is 21 and like Edwards, is a middle infielder. While Brujan could be dealt in a blockbuster trade, he could block Edwards, leading to Edwards potentially being flipped. Edwards is highly touted by scouts and has a good chance of being a star, leading to this being a potential steal for Tampa Bay, especially if the player to be named is a future stud.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Mets acquire Marisnick

         The New York Mets have acquired OF Jake Marisnick from the Houston Astros in exchange for LHP Blake Taylor and OF Kenedy Corona.

         The Mets are currently seeing longtime OF Juan Lagares depart in free agency after the team declined his option. Since Yoenis Cespedes will not likely return for at least the first half of 2020 (maybe even the whole season) the Mets need a right handed bat in the outfield to counter the left handed Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil. But more importantly, they could use both fielding and speed more than a bat in a Lagares replacement, mainly because that is what Lagares brought to the team. Marisnick is not a good hitter, but he has hit double digit home runs in each of the last three seasons, with 10 in 2019 and 2018. His one good offensive season was 2017, that saw him hit career highs in home runs (16), RBIs (35), batting average (.243), Slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.815), among many other categories. But Marisnick has gotten much worse offensively since. His 2019 numbers included a much worse .700 OPS, a .233 average and a .289 OBP. Marisnick stole 10 bases, his first time hitting double digits since 2016. In 2015, Marisnick stole 24 bases. The lack of stolen bases lately does not mean Marisnick has lost some speed. His sprint speed was in the 95th percentile among major leaguers, according to baseball savant. Marisnick played in 120 games this past season, but only had 318 Plate Appearances. The Astros would use him as a defensive replacement late in games. Over the last two seasons, Marisnick has saved 17 defensive runs, but just five of them came in 2019. The Mets could use Marisnick as a fourth outfielder, or a starter if Jeff McNeil plays in the infield.

          The Astros traded Marisnick to cut salary, but more importantly to open up a chance for a young outfielder to stay on the soon to be 26 man roster. Myles Straw, who played in 56 games in 2019, and top prospect Kyle Tucker, who played in 22 games, are both options. Straw's right handed bat could be more appealing since that is what Marisnick was, and because every outfielder excluding George Springer is a lefty hitter. Taking Marisnick's 40 man roster spot is Taylor, who the Mets had recently added to their 40 man. Taylor was a second round pick by the Pirates in 2013, but was traded to the Mets less than a year later with Zack Thornton for Ike Davis. While he has not played in the MLB yet, Taylor had a 2.16 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 66.2 innings for AAA Syracuse (only 0.1 inning for Syracuse), AA Binghamton and High-A St. Lucie. He struck out 11 batters in nine Arizona Fall League innings, allowing two runs. Taylor could make his MLB debut in 2020. Corona is a wild card. A 19 year old, Corona hit .301 with five home runs, 29 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 63 games, reaching as high as Low-A Brooklyn (4 games).

MLB Trade Review: Brewers acquire Narvaez

            The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired C Omar Narvaez from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Adam Hill and a competitive balance draft pick in round B.

            Throughout his minor league career, Narvaez was not much of a power hitter. While he hit for average in the beginning, Narvaez's career high home run total was two through 2017. That includes the minor and major league. Entering part of his third MLB season with the White Sox, Narvaez played in a career high 97 games, and hit nine home runs, four and a half times more than his total the year before. However, the White Sox decided to sell high on Narvaez, and traded him to the Mariners last offseason for future closer Alex Colome. Narvaez got a starting gig in Seattle, and potentially with the help of the juiced baseballs, hit 22 home runs. He also had a .278 batting average, and a .813 OPS. For a catcher, those are good offensive numbers. But, he his main issue is his defense. Narvaez's -20 defensive runs saved were the second worst among catchers, only ahead of Pittsburgh's Elias Diaz. Boston's Xander Bogaerts was the only other player at any position with a lower DRS than Narvaez, at -21. The Brewers needed to replace Yasmani Grandal, the top free agent catcher, who signed with the White Sox. Defensively, Grandal is not great, but he is definitely an improvement to Narvaez. But offensively, the difference is not much. Grandal had a 121 wRC+. Narvaez's was 119. He is an underrated catcher.

            The Mariners traded Narvaez mainly because they have a replacement for him. Tom Murphy played in just 76 games, but he hit 18 home runs, and had a better wRC+ than both Narvaez and Grandal (126). He also had a positive DRS of six. Murphy, like Narvaez, could be traded. But he is very underrated, and the Mariners should keep him. The backup role could go to Austin Nola, the older brother of Aaron Nola, the Phillies' ace. Nola transitioned to catcher in the minor leagues, and debuted in 2019. He hit 10 home runs in 79 games. Only seven of those games saw him play catcher, as he was mainly a first baseman. But with the new hole at catcher, Nola can fill in. Acquired from the Mets last year from Keon Broxton, Hill spent all of 2019 for Single-A Wisconsin. He had a 3.92 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. The Mets picked him in the 4th round in 2018 from the University of South Carolina. The draft pick might be the more enticing asset acquired. It marks the second consecutive offseason the Brewers traded a competitive balance pick (acquired Alex Claudio from Texas for one).

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Angels acquire Bundy

From NBC sports

        The Los Angeles Angels have acquired RHP Dylan Bundy from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for RHPs Kyle Bradish, Isaac Mattson, Zach Peek and Kyle Brnovich.

        The Angels have a very weak rotation, and they are desperately looking to improve it this offseason. They are very much in the running for top free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole. However, if Cole doesn't work out, they will need to get multiple pitchers (they need multiple pitchers even if they land Cole). Bundy is a big reclamation project. In 2011, he was the 4th overall pick. But, he has had a terrible major league career. Recently, the only thing Bundy has done consistently that is good is strike out batters. His K/9 has been over 9 the last two seasons. The Angels obviously think that they can change Bundy. His 2.5 WAR in 2019 was not bad, but his 4.79 ERA was.

        Bundy, 27, had a 4.79 ERA with 162 strikeouts in 161.2 innings (one out from qualifying) in 2019. In his MLB career, all in Baltimore, Bundy has a 4.67 ERA with 602 strikeouts in 614.1 innings. He has a career WAR of 7.2.

        The Orioles hope that one of the four prospects they acquired can at least be as good as Bundy. The one with the best shot of doing that is Bradish. Among the four, he was the only one to be a top 30 prospect in the Angels system by MLB Pipeline, at number 21. Mattson, who reached AAA in 2019, could be the first one to the majors.

        Mattson, 24, had a 2.33 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 73.1 innings for AAA Salt Lake, AA Mobile and High-A Inland Empire in 2019. In his minor league career, he has a 2.89 ERA with 242 strikeouts in 199 innings.

         Bradish, 23, had a 4.28 ERA with 120 strikeouts in 101 innings for High-A Inland Empire in 2019, his first pro season after attending New Mexico State. He was a 4th round pick in 2018.

         Peek, 21, had a 4.02 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 87.1 innings at Winthrop University in 2019. He was drafted by the Angels in the 6th round this past draft.

          Brnovich, 22, was an 8th round pick in 2019. For Elon University, Brnovich had a 3.66 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 86 innings.