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Elephant Rumblings: Reds and Rockies make minor trade

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Jameson Hannah, former A’s prospect
Photo provided by Vermont Lake Monsters

Good morning afternoon, Athletics Nation!

In yesterday’s Rumblings we discussed the calm before the offseason storm. We’re still waiting for the annual winter downpour, but at least a couple raindrops fell on Wednesday.

The Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies completed a trade involving four players, first reported by Robert Murray. It was a minor deal, featuring nobody with an MLB career that has exceeded 1 WAR, but it was literally a trade so let’s talk about it.

The swap sends two players in each direction. The Reds acquire pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Case Williams, and the Rockies get pitcher Robert Stephenson and outfielder Jameson Hannah.

The MLB section of the deal exchanges two former Top 100 prospects who haven’t yet panned out in the majors. Hoffman and Stephenson were both 1st-round picks who received tons of hype in the minors (example: Hoffman headlined the Troy Tulowitzki trade), and they both debuted in the bigs in 2016. However, neither has found any consistent success in MLB, including ERAs over 9.00 this past summer. Their careers rank slightly below replacement-level per bWAR, and marginally above via fWAR, in a little over 200 innings apiece.

Both pitchers are out of options and apparently had reached the ends of their leashes in their old homes, so they’ll each get a change of scenery. Athletics Nation might be especially interested in following the progress of Stephenson, a Bay Area product who was born in Martinez and drafted out of Alhambra High School.

The minor league portion of the trade also holds some intrigue for A’s fans. Hannah was Oakland’s 2nd-round pick in 2018, but was sent to Cincy for rental pitcher Tanner Roark in July 2019. Now he’s on the move again, though he didn’t get a chance to play many actual games in the Reds org. Meanwhile, Williams was Colorado’s 4th-round pick this summer, so he hasn’t yet played a pro game.

In terms of analysis, check out the reactions from Purple Row and Red Reporter. Our resident value expert invisibleinkwell (aka John Bitzer of Baseball Trade Values) describes it like this:

“It’s basically Hoffman for Hannah. At BTV, we have Hoffman at 2.1 and Hannah at 2.1. The other two are throw-ins — Stephenson is at zero and Williams (who we had to add since he wasn’t on any prospect lists) is at 0.1.”

To put that into A’s terms, here are a few players valued around that level: Lou Trivino (2.5), Jake Diekman (2.4), Luis Barrera (2.2), Jordan Diaz (1.8), and Drew Millas (1.8). So, not insignificant names, but also not any kind of blockbuster. A couple disappointing pitchers get fresh new starts in new orgs, but one has retained a little more surplus value and so the other side has to include a notable prospect to make up the difference. It’s the kind of trade that could be forgotten by this time next year, unless someone hits the jackpot on one of these lotto tickets.

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