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The Daily Bernie, 7/27/16: Melvin Upton heads to Toronto

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The Blue Jays added some solid outfield depth on Tuesday, and either outfielder Jay Bruce or righty Andrew Cashner will likely be the next player moved, among other news.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the Daily Bernie! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!

  • On Tuesday morning the San Diego Padres sent outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for young righty Hansel Rodriguez. The move has been officially announced. According to Jon Heyman of TodaysKnuckleball.com, the Padres will also cover all but $5 million of Upton’s remaining contract. Upton was in the midst of a huge bounceback season for the Friars, slashing .256/.304/.439 with 16 home runs and 20 stolen bases while playing half of his games in an extreme pitcher’s park. He will help the Blue Jays against left-handed pitching, and provide insurance for Jose Bautista’s pending free agency. The Padres, on the other hand, have handled things quite nicely - after taking Upton from the Braves in 2015 as essentially a salary dump, lowering the price for closer Craig Kimbrel, they were able to flip Kimbrel and Upton the following season for arguably much better prospects than they gave up. General Manager A.J. Preller has made a few mistakes in his short tenure with the Padres, but that first Kimbrel trade and the resulting moves were certainly a big win.
  • Talks are heating up regarding Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. He has often been mentioned in the same sentence as Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick, as the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and Washington Nationals have all shown interest in both lefty sluggers. Bruce is probably the better hitter of the two, with his .272/.326/.564 slash line and 23 homers, good for a 129 wRC+. Reddick, however, is the more complete player, as Bruce’s atrocious defensive metrics mean he has been worth less fWAR than Josh in 30 more games (0.7 for Bruce, 0.9 for Reddick). The biggest difference between the two is that Reddick is a three month rental, while Bruce has an affordable $13 million club option for 2017. Ultimately, they should each fetch a similar return, so if Bruce is dealt soon, that could provide a template for a potential Reddick trade.
  • One of the most likely players to be dealt in the next week is Padres righty Andrew Cashner, who was almost moved before his Tuesday night start against the Blue Jays, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. Cashner ultimately was not dealt, and instead turned in a bit of a shaky performance against the fearsome Jays lineup. The 29 year-old gave up three runs over six innings, striking out six and walking three. The three runs came on a pair of home runs off the bats of Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. On the season, Cashner has posted a 4.76 ERA (4.94 FIP) over 79.1 innings. The fact that Cashner has generated so much attention as a trade target despite not pitching well since 2014 is a true testament to how weak the starting pitching market is.
  • Despite a decent start in Texas on Tuesday, A’s righty Sonny Gray won’t be moved this in this upcoming week, according to Peter Gammons on MLB Network. This certainly makes sense - as Gammons adds, the price for starting pitching will be just as high in the winter, and if Gray can rebuild his value with a second half rebound then the A’s could still get a haul for him. While teams like the Red Sox and Rangers still covet Gray, it seems unlikely they’d be willing to pay such a huge price for him with his ERA still hovering around 5.
  • The Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays pulled off an interesting challenge trade on Tuesday night, as Seattle sent righty Joaquin Benoit to Toronto for the recently-DFA’d righty Drew Storen. The move has been made official. Both relievers have struggled mightily so far in 2016. Benoit has been simply unable to throw strikes, walking a career high 5.55 batters per nine innings en route to an unsightly 5.18 ERA. Storen has had much better control, but has simply been hammered to the tune of a 6.21 ERA. There really isn’t any risk in a deal like this, but it should be interesting to see if either (or both) will bounce back.

Bernie’s Daily Deal: Josh Reddick, Rich Hill, and Ryan Madson to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Trayce Thompson, Austin Barnes, Trevor Oaks, and Scott Barlow

Once again, this idea isn’t entirely mine. The basic framework was suggested by Dave Cameron of FanGraphs.com in his trade deadline prediction article. The one change I have made is swapping Ryan Madson for Cameron’s proposal of Sean Doolittle - currently on the disabled list, Doolittle’s status is up in the air, and the A’s would likely be more motivated to move Madson anyways. The Dodgers have All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, and thus could put Madson into a set-up role, where he belongs.

Thompson and Barnes are two of the biggest crushes on AN. Thompson, 25, is Klay Thompson’s younger brother. That’s reason enough to want to trade for him, but he is also a pretty solid player. He has clubbed 13 homers already, leading to a 100 wRC+, and his defense certainly passes the eye test at all three outfield positions (although metrics haven’t loved him so far). The right-handed hitter reminds me a bit of 2012 Reddick, and if the A’s could help transform him into more of the contact hitter Reddick is today, he could be an All-Star. Thompson is currently on the disabled list, which could be a minor obstacle for a potential deal.

Barnes is a 26 year-old catcher with enough athleticism to play second and third base as well. He has even stolen 17 bases so far in only 63 Triple-A games. The right-handed hitter has shown impressive contact skills in the minors to go along with decent power. Long term, he could form a natural platoon partner with either Stephen Vogt or Bruce Maxwell behind the plate, and his versatility could keep him in the lineup almost every day.

Oaks and Barlow are a pair of interesting fringe arms. Oaks, 23, is currently holding his own at Triple-A. The righty is a big-time ground ball pitcher, and profiles fairly similar to Kendall Graveman. Graveman is probably Oaks’ best case scenario, but at worst, he’s capable depth. Barlow is currently starting in Double-A, but long-term is probably a reliever. His three-quarters delivery gives him some nice deception, so if he can learn to throw strikes he could become a nasty righty specialist.

That’s all for today. The A’s and Rangers will face off at 5:05 PM in the rubbermatch of the series, as Sean Manaea looks to continue his recent success and the A’s look to light up Yu Darvish as they always have. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!