Let’s get this out of the way: Oakland’s trade of Drew Pomeranz for Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski has been a complete failure, setting aside the A’s also sent a High-A reliever and a Rule 5 pick there too. Pomeranz has been traded to the Boston Red Sox, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, for 18-year-old pitcher Anderson Espinoza, ranked No. 15 in Baseball America’s midseason prospect update. Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski have combined for -0.4 fWAR.
Pomeranz’s turnaround from a two-pitch pitcher who couldn’t find a putaway pitch to save his life into a 2016 All-Star has recently been extensively covered by Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs, noting that his new cutter has been “jamming hitters.” Why did it take working with a random minor league teammate who is now playing independent baseball for it to occur to Pomeranz that he should learn to throw a cutter?
But what’s done is done, so let’s get into how the return here should inform our analysis for the sort of deal Rich Hill could garner for the A’s sometime in the next three weeks.
Similarity: Track record
Drew Pomeranz is about two starts away from passing his career single-season high in professional innings. He’s dealt with AC joint (shoulder) issues and had surgery for the issue last offseason. He also missed time last year with a sprained ACL, fractured his glove hand in an infamous argument with a wooden chair in 2014, lost time to a biceps injury in 2013, and had a host of minor injuries before then.
Rich Hill threw 94 innings last year between the Long Island Ducks, Triple-A, and MLB. He’s up to 79 innings so far, and Hill has not thrown over 100 innings since 2007. He’s just coming off a groin injury that caused him to miss a month, and he’s already had one Tommy John surgery (2011-12).
Both pitchers have only recently begun showing superlative performances in their careers. The aforementioned cutter has helped him to a jump in his strikeout rate and taken him deeper into starts, but only over his last 102 innings. Rich Hill has put up performances that have drawn comparisons to Clayton Kershaw for about the last 105 innings.
Hill probably has the edge in terms of the quality of his stuff, but both bring questions of whether they can pitch a full season to the table.
Difference: Team control
Drew Pomeranz is under team control through the 2018 season while Rich Hill is a free agent at the end of the year. The Red Sox are giving up the much more variable potential for a high-level starter sometime in the future for seven years for the potential of a very good starter now for the next two-and-a-half.
Let’s look at one thought swirling through the rumor winds:
Some speculation among other teams that Texas's best trade option in the market now becomes Rich Hill, based on how dominoes falling.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 14, 2016
Say the A’s wanted an outfielder from the Texas Rangers. Nomar Mazara is probably out of reach, considering he was ranked higher as a prospect and is already showing amazing defense and a creditable showing at the plate in his rookie season. Joey Gallo probably is too, at No. 11 on Baseball America’s midseason update. Both of them are too close to providing immediate contributions to the Rangers to be comparable to the young Espinoza, but perhaps Hill and Gallo or Mazara could be part of a larger deal.
Lewis Brinson has taken a tumble due to injuries, but I think the A’s would want more than someone who needs to bounceback in Double-A to stay on track for advancing to the major leagues.
If you’re thinking about a Hill + [X, Y, Z] deal, the Rangers have other needs for this season, so I’ll let your heads explode at the thought of trading Oakland’s only 2016 All-Star:
or their hot-hitting third baseman:
@jfkooAN They could def use Vogt or Madson. Hell, they have a hole at a 1B/DH spot with Fielder and Moreland playing like trash, so Valencia— Duncan Morrow (@DunxMuro) July 14, 2016
or the next trade we’ll be talking about until the A’s go back to the postseason:
Let your imagination run wild.