The hot stove is hot! Here’s what last nights moves mean for the A’s.
It’s a bit of a beautiful shocker that the Diamondbacks are going for it just a year removed from....that. With a new front office, a healthier lineup and rotation, and a few surprising stars, the Diamondbacks are a legit threat to win a playoff berth via the Wild Card.
So the Diamondbacks are buyers, looking for another impact bat. They’ve got that in J.D. Martinez, a potential star held back by his complete inability to field. Martinez has also been hampered some by injuries, playing a decent amount but not quite enough to qualify for league leaderboards.
Were he to qualify, and he’s not far off, he’d be the seventh best hitter in the sport with a 162 wRC+. His bat is incredible and granting that he’s in the final year of his deal, the return for his services is underwhelming.
In return, the Tigers received three minor league infielders: Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara, and Jose King. Lugo is the most exciting of the bunch but is far from a sure thing, the latter two looking like role players if all breaks right.
Now I’m a big believer that judging trades right away is a tough proposition, and the collective internet is often wrong in those evaluations - see Troy Tulowitzki.
At the moment, though, that return looks awfully light considering Martinez’s unanimously awesome bat. From average to power, old stats and new, it’s clear he’s an absolute stud. Yet he netted just a B- prospect combined with two guys who didn’t make most prospect ranking lists.
What does it means for the A’s?
You have to imagine the light return, presuming it is as light as it seems, is based on a few factors.
For one, Martinez has almost no defensive value. Teams know defense is just as important as offense. The A’s have to cut this hodgepodge stick whoever wherever defense out if they want to win.
The best comp for Martinez on the A’s is Khris Davis, a player whose name has been floated by fans as a potential mover but not quite as much on the national level. Davis is a better defender than Martinez with a worse bat and a longer contract. They’re not clones, but they’ve got reasonable similarities.
If that’s the return for Martinez, Davis will remain an Athletic. The outfield is barren enough, and Davis is decent enough with the glove for him to warrant a spot on the team. A package like that won’t pry him away.
This should also serve to temper our expectations with the return for Yonder Alonso. Martinez and Alonso don’t have that much in common, but if the best pure hitter on the market is moved for that, the return for a guy like Alonso is probably lower than we originally anticipated.
Yankees acquire Todd Frazier (2B/3B), Tommy Kahnle (RHP), and Daniel Robertson (RHP) from Chicago White Sox for Tyler Clippard (RHP) and prospects Blake Rutherford (OF), Tito Polo (OF) and Ian Clarkin (LHP)
A little tougher to suss out when there are so many moving pieces, but let’s try it.
The Yankees are one of those many teams in the thick of things to the surprise of most. They’ve slipped as of late, falling fairly far behind the division leading Red Sox while staying in control of the second Wild Card spot.
To try and hold that playoff spot, the Yankees gave up quite the package. Blake Rutherford is the prize of the trade for the Sox, a toolsy first round pick from 2016 with enormous upside. His potential is huge and value is too, and the White Sox did well to snag him.
In addition, they received Ian Clarkin, a successful minor league starter when healthy which is unfortunately rare. Clarkin probably profiles as a back of the rotation guy, someone who can provide a lot of value if he can command his stuff and stay on the field.
The third prospect in the trade is Tito Polo who has already been worth the trade just for that name. He’s having a decent year but doesn’t look like he’ll be more than organizational filler.
The final piece of the trade is Tyler Clippard, who was probably thrown in by the Yankees in you have to take him sorta way. Clippard isn’t exactly expensive, but he’s no longer an asset. Mostly a non-factor in this deal.
Overall, wow the Sox have gotten themselves quite the farm system. Rutherford will shoot to near the top of the organizational rankings, and other pieces are nothing to scoff at. To get that package they gave up their fair share too. Frazier still has some value left in the tank, and Kahnle and Robertson are arguably the two best relivers on the market today. It’s still premium position and the Sox got a fine return.
What does it mean for the A’s?
When there are so many moving parts, it’s tough to suss out the exact value of each part. Let’s focus on the bigger implications.
The Yankees were one of the bigger first base buyers on the market, and apparently they’ve got their guy. Frazier will take over first, hoping the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium will help him re-find his form. He’s been decent offensively recently, has a solid glove, and will represent a big upgrade for the Yankees who employed defensive butcher Chris Carter until just a few weeks back.
It’s a bummer the A’s couldn’t find a match with the Yankees, a team with ample resources to acquire Yonder Alonso. With them off the table, there’s a serious question regarding the market demand for first baseman. An extension seems unlikely still, but possibly more tenable with the most likely suitor off the table.
Seriously, where is the market for Alonso at this point? Boston? It might take an injury to a contender for the A’s to find a team that truly needs him.
On a more positive note, competition in the AL East both on the field and in the trade market is a good thing.
The Yanks just picked up an infielder, something the Red Sox need too. Might Jed Lowrie head back to where it all started? The Yankees improving makes it even more likely.
There are needs for both of those teams, and hopefully both would pay more for upgrades in order to beat the other. It’s likely the A’s deal at least one player to an AL East team, and hopefully the competition there will improve the return.
The final thing of note for the A’s is the relievers involved. How do the two relievers traded by the A’s compare to those traded by the Sox? Not all that favorably, hence the difference in return package. Kahnle is striking out 42.6% of the hitters he’s facing, walking basically nobody, and rarely giving up the longball. Robertson is a touch behind, still fantastic, but slightly more expensive and older.
If we’re being unbiased, Kahnle and Robertson are vastly superior. The Sox got vastly more, but the return seems congruent with what the A’s got.
If we’re being biased, Doo is way cooler and way better than either of these jokers.