Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Predicting the remains of the starting pitching free agent market

        The 2019 calendar year is not over yet, but unlike the last few years, the MLB free agency market has moved very quickly. While there are still some quality position players available, the pitching market is about over, after Hyun-Jin Ryu's four year, $80 million agreement with the Blue Jays. Of the 20 free agent pitchers with a WAR of 2 or higher in 2019, 18 of them have signed, leaving Homer Bailey and Ivan Nova behind. That does not include former Cy Young winners Dallas Keuchel and Rick Porcello, plus all-stars in Gio Gonzalez, Julio Teheran, and Michael Wacha. All five of those players have new homes. But there are still teams in need of a starter or two, and there are still some vets looking for a new home.

        A very under looked option is Alex Wood. Wood will be just 29 in 2020. A 2017 all star, Wood has a 3.40 career ERA in 839 innings. In his six career seasons entering 2019, Wood's season by season ERA ranged from 2.72 to 3.84. But injuries stalled his 2019, limiting him to seven starts, where he had a 5.80 ERA. The Angels have been criticized for not being able to land a top starting pitcher this offseason, bringing in just Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran. The Angels could use Wood. A contract could look like a one year deal with a club option, giving Wood in the $4-6 million range. It would be a big gamble, but the former Dodger would definitely make the rotation better.

      Homer Bailey had an interesting 2019. He signed a minor league deal with the Royals, earned a rotation spot and had a hot stretch before being traded to the A's. In 13 starts for the A's, Bailey had a 4.30 ERA, which would have been his best in a season since 2014. With Jon Gray rumored to be on the way out, the Rockies could look for a part time replacement. Bailey's 1.2 HR/9 in 2019 was in the top half in the league. Playing in Coors Field will probably worsen that, but the Rockies could use a pitcher like him.

       The ERA champion in 2016, Aaron Sanchez has fallen a lot since then. Blisters and other injuries have cost him significant time, and his 2019 ERA of 5.89 was a career worst. He was traded from the Blue Jays to the Astros mid season, and while he was a part of a combined no hitter in his first game in Houston, Sanchez made just three more starts, allowing 10 runs. He is just 27, the youngest among notable free agent pitchers. He is less of a guarantee for a turn around than Wood, but he can still be a fifth starter on a bad team. The Giants are a bad team, and desperately need a starter, with only Jeff Samardzija qualifying for the ERA title last year among returners. Only Kevin Gausman has been brought in, and behind Gausman, Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, the rotation looks fuzzy.

          The White Sox brought in Ivan Nova without many expectations for the then 32 year old. Nova was healthy all year, and his 34 starts lead the league. However, so did his 225 hits allowed. He had a very bad 4.72 ERA, but believe it or not, teams are prepared to give rotation spots to pitchers with worse numbers. A team that could be open to a Nova reunion is the Pirates. Chris Archer, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove will lock up three rotation spots, and top prospect Mitch Keller will likely get another one. That leaves the fifth one wide open. Steven Brault is the front runner, but his 5.16 ERA in 19 starts last year is unimpressive. Nova pitched some of his best years with the Pirates, with a 3.99 ERA in parts of three seasons.

Monday, December 16, 2019

NHL Trade Review: Coyotes acquire Hall

From Sportsnet

           The Arizona Coyotes have acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Blake Speers from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Kevin Bahl, forwards Nick Merkley and Nate Schnarr, as well as a 2020 1st round draft pick and a 2021 conditional third round pick. The Devils will retain 50% of Hall's salary.

            The Coyotes are not the team that will often make a trade like this. That's likely because they are never good. It is also because they often acquire bad contracts from other teams, and those players never play for them. Take Pavel Datsyuk, Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa for example. But now, the Hossa trade is coming back to hurt them. While Hossa is on LTIR, and will not count towards the cap hit, his contract brings the Coyotes over the cap by over $2 million. Even with the money retained, Hall's cap hit for both teams will be $3 million. Without trading any NHLers, the Coyotes don't clear up much space. They will have to waive someone, put someone on LTIR or make another trade to make the deal work. But it will be worth it. Hall is an elite winger. The Hart trophy winner just two seasons ago, Hall was the 1st overall pick in 2010. In 2017-18, he scored 39 goals with 93 points in his second season with the Devils after being acquired from Edmonton for Adam Larsson. Hall is another first line winger. The Coyotes acquired Phil Kessel, a consistent goal scorer, in the offseason, but he has just seven goals so far. If he is on the same line as Hall, Kessel will score more goals. Hall has not been much of a goal scorer this year, but he already has 19 assists in 30 games. The Coyotes also get an AHL forward in Speers that will just add depth.

               Hall, 28, scored six goals with 19 assists for 25 points in 30 games for the Devils this season. In his NHL career for the Devils and Edmonton Oilers, Hall has scored 208 goals with 328 assists for 536 points in 592 games.

              Speers, 22, has three games of NHL experience, all coming in 2016-17. He did not get a point. In 10 AHL games this year, Speers has one assist.

              The Devils have had a terrible start to the season. They have a 10-17-5 record, and are dead last in the Metropolitan Division. Hall, their star forward, is the top pending free agent, and wasn't going to re-sign. The trade Hall for a haul, acquiring a first round pick, and a third that can be upgraded. If the Coyotes win one playoff round this year, or re-sign Hall, the pick is a second rounder. If both things occur, the Devils get Arizona's 2021 first round pick. With the tight cap space in Arizona, Hall's expected raise and Arizona usually being unappealing to top free agents, Devils fans will have to hope Arizona wins a playoff round to get a pick upgrade. The Devils also acquire three prospects. The oldest is Merkley, who was a late first round pick in the star studded 2015 draft. However, he has played in just one NHL game, and does not have a very impressive AHL track record. Schnarr is a third round pick from 2017, and Bahl was a second rounder from 2018. While a trade was close, the Devils scratched Hall twice for precautionary reasons. The first game was against a big time suitor in Colorado, and the second game was of course, against the Coyotes.

                Merkley, 22, had no points in his one NHL game in 2017-18. In 26 games for AHL Tucson this year, Merkley has scored three goals with 13 assists for 16 points. He had 34 points in 43 games in 2018-19.

                Bahl, 19, has five goals with 15 assists for 20 points in 28 games for the OHL's Ottawa 67s this season. Bahl also had 34 points last year, but in 68 games.

               Schnarr, 20, has one goal with eight assists for nine points in 22 games for Tucson this year, his first professional season. For the OHL's Guelph Storm last year, Schnarr scored 34 goals with 68 assists for 102 points in 65 games.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Rangers acquire Kluber

         The Texas Rangers have acquired RHP Corey Kluber and cash from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for RHP Emmanuel Clase and OF Delino DeShields Jr.

          The reaction that most casual baseball fans had is that the Indians got fleeced. That could be true. Kluber is a two time Cy Young winner, and DeShields is a career .246 hitter. But there are a lot of concerns entering 2020 with Kluber. He is 33 and will turn 34 on April 10. His velocity has been down in 2018 and 2019. To start 2019, Kluber had a 5.80 ERA in his first seven starts. He was then hit by a comebacker in that seventh start, fracturing his pitching arm. He did not return for the rest of the season, ending his nine year Indians career. His 3rd place Cy Young finish the year before makes the return seem even more disappointing. Kluber has a career 3.16 ERA with 1461 strikeouts in 1341.2 innings, and a 2.99 FIP. The Rangers need pitching bad with only Mike Minor and Lance Lynn making 20 starts. Kluber is not exactly a third starter, but a Lynn-Minor-Kluber led rotation could be dangerous, if there is any help behind them.

           In return, the Indians get an interesting young player in Emmanuel Clase. Clase will turn 22 in Spring Training. He often hits over 100 mph on his cutter, hitting as high as 102. He had a 2.31 ERA with 21 strikeouts and one save in 23.1 innings in 2019, his first taste of MLB action. He finished seven games for the Rangers, as they were perhaps setting him up for a closer role with Shawn Kelley heading out and Jose LeClerc coming off a rough season. In the minors in 2019, Clase had a 2.82 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 44.2 innings with 12 saves.

          The son of the former major leaguer with the same name, DeShields has struggled to hit at the major league level, occasionally sending him back to the minor leagues. However, DeShields is very fast. In 118 games, DeShields stole 24 bases. He has 106 career stolen bases, with just 18 home runs. He hit four home runs with a .249 batting average in 2019. In 15 AAA games, DeShields stole eight bases and hit three home runs. He can be a fourth outfielder or starter for a weak Indians outfield. His career OPS of .668 is terrible, though.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

MLB Free Agency: Yankees sign Cole

         The New York Yankees have signed RHP Gerrit Cole to a nine year deal worth $324 million. It is the most ever given to a pitcher, and the $36 million AAV is the most for a player ever.

         The most obvious question when someone gets $324 million is "Are they worth it?". Cole is going to be worth it. The 28th overall pick by the Yankees in 2008, Cole did not sign and went to UCLA. In 2011, he was the first overall pick by the Pirates. In five seasons in Pittsburgh, Cole had a 3.50 ERA with 734 strikeouts in 782.1 innings. Then, the Pirates put him on the trade market. The Yankees tried to acquire Cole, but he went to the defending champions, the Astros. Cole blossomed in Houston. In two seasons, Cole had a 2.68 ERA with 602 strikeouts in 412.2 innings. In both seasons Cole led the league in K/9. He led the league in strikeouts in 2019 with 326, and the AL in ERA with 2.50. However, he was snubbed of the Cy Young. That went to his now former teammate in Justin Verlander. Cole also finished 10th in MVP voting.

            Cole will be the head of a Yankees rotation that already had ace Luis Severino, plus solid starters James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees will need to shed salary to account for Cole. That could lead to a trade of potential number five starter JA Happ. How the Yankees will be able to re-sign Paxton and Tanaka, or at least one of them (both are free agents after the season) is a big question mark. When the Yankees will need to extend Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, both franchise cornerstones, having two players earning over $25 million (Cole and Giancarlo Stanton) will not help. But the only number the Yankees care about in their number of World Series rings, which could be multiple.

MLB Trade Review: White Sox acquire Mazara

          The Chicago White Sox have acquired OF Nomar Mazara in exchange for CF Steele Walker.

          This could be an absolute steal for the White Sox. Mazara is 24, and is already a four year veteran. He is very consistent. He hit exactly 20 home runs in his first three seasons, but hit 19 in 2019. His .268 batting average and .786 OPS were both career highs, but not by much. One of his 19 home runs went 505 feet, the furthest hit ball in 2019. He is a below average defender, with -4 defensive runs saved and a -2.7 UZR. The numbers do not look pretty, but keep in mind his age. If Mazara can take his game to the next level, it could be scary. But his extremely mediocre numbers through four seasons are not showing much signs of improvement, potentially prompting the Rangers to trade him.

           Even though Mazara is mediocre, I still thought the Rangers could have received more in return. They get one decent prospect in Walker. Walker is 23, so he is just a year younger than Mazara and won't be making the big leagues in this upcoming season. A second round pick in 2018, Walker signed for $2 million. In 2019, Walker reached as high as High-A Winston-Salem. He hit .284 with 10 home runs, 13 stolen bases (but he was caught seven times) and an .811 OPS. In the Rangers system, MLB Pipeline ranks Walker as their 12th best prospect.

MLB Trade Review: Giants acquire Cozart

          The San Francisco Giants have acquired IFs Zack Cozart and Will Wilson from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for cash and a player to be named later.

          The basis of this trade is that the Giants are getting a recent top pick to take on a bad contract. But, with the Giants not expecting to be good in 2020, the contract is not terrible. Before the 2018 season, Cozart signed a three year, $38 million deal with the Angels. However, in the two years since, Cozart has played in a combined 96 games. The Giants have just one year of Cozart, and will pay him $12.66 million for 2020. Will Wilson was drafted 15th overall in this past draft. He was the Angels' 4th best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. With the Giants having a much better system, Wilson will drop down to their 10th prospect spot. In 2019 for North Carolina, Wilson hit .339 with 16 home runs. Playing for the rookie league Orem Owlz, Wilson hit .275 with five home runs in 46 games.

          The Angels are in the center of a big offseason. While they missed out on top starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole, they will be in the market for Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and maybe Anthony Rendon. They will likely spend a lot of money, so they needed to shed salary. While they gave up Wilson, it could lead to a much better player. Cozart was a big disappointment. A .254 hitter with 82 home runs in parts of seven seasons with the Reds, Cozart hit 40 home runs combined in 2016-2017, including a 2017 all-star appearance. In two years with the Angels, Cozart hit .190 with five home runs. He hit .124 in 38 games with no home runs in 2019. The Angels will likely have David Fletcher starting at third base, unless a Rendon or Josh Donaldson comes to town.

         Cozart might not be as much as a risk for the Giants as it seems. He will probably be hurt at some point, and his production could lack. But if he can at least hit 10 home runs and hit .250, the Giants will be happy.

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.

Monday, December 2, 2019

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Profar

          The San Diego Padres have acquired IF Jurickson Profar from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for C Austin Allen and a player to be named later.

           Profar was acquired by the A's last offseason in a three team trade from the Rangers after what was his best season in 2018. Profar, who was once the top prospect in all of baseball, always dealt with injuries and 2018 was his first 100 game MLB season. Profar had missed all of 2014 and 2015, and a portion of 2016 and 2017 prior to his breakout season. But in his one and only season in Oakland, things went wrong. Profar's batting average fell to .218 from .254. He had a .793 OPS in 2018, but that fell to .711 in 2019. Looking at those numbers, it seems that Profar really declined. But the Padres are looking past that number, and seeing that Profar was just unlucky. Profar hit 20 home runs in both 2018 and 2019. His walk rate increased by .2% and his strikeout rate decreased by .3%, both good things. Where Profar really fell in his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Profar's BABIP was a very low .218, matching his normal batting average. League average for BABIP is normally around .300. Even in his breakout 2018, Profar had a low BABIP of .269. Profar's ISO was only 12 points lower (.192) in 2019 than in 2018 (.204). But Profar's main issue is that he does not hit the ball hard at all. His average exit velocity is in the 18th percentile among MLB hitters, and his hard hit % is even lower, in the 16th percentile. If Profar can hit the ball harder, he will be a much better hitter, but that could be said for everyone. In both 2018 and 2019, Profar attempted to steal a base 10 times. He was perfect in 2018, but was caught once in 2019. The Padres recently traded Luis Urias to the Brewers, opening up a second base spot. Veteran Ian Kinsler plays second base, but he had a terrible first season with the Padres. Profar now slots in as the starter.

             The deadline to tender a contract to a player is tonight at 8 pm ET. By trading Profar, it probably means that the A's were not going to tender Profar a contract, making him a free agent. The A's were reportedly shopping Profar, and now they finally found a trade partner. They get Allen, a catcher that just recently made his MLB debut, and a player to be named later. I would not bet on Allen sticking in Oakland long. He was not a ranked prospect in the Padres' system, and he won't be with the A's. He will already be 26 by Opening Day. In 34 MLB games, Allen went 14-for-65 with no home runs and a terrible .277 slugging percentage leading to a weak .559 OPS. If the A's don't make another catching move, Allen will compete for a backup catching job behind Josh Phegley. However, top catching prospect Sean Murphy is also one of the biggest catching prospects in the league, and he played in 20 MLB games last season. He is MLB ready. Allen could be Phegley's backup if Murphy starts in AAA. Besides Murphy, the A's have catchers Kyle McCann (18), Jonah Heim (21) and Drew Millas (23) in their top 30 prospects list by MLB Pipeline.