Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hot Stove Update: Yankees Create a Monster Bullpen

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Yankees pulled the trigger on a trade for Aroldis Chapman despite an ongoing investigation into an allegation of domestic violence.  Apparently the Reds asking price in prospects finally got low enough that the Yanks just couldn't resist.  From a strictly baseball standpoint, the move makes a lot of sense for the Yankees.  All it costs them is 4 relatively low ceiling prospects.  While the outcome of MLB's investigation is not known, the worst case scenario, at least according to the commentators on MLB Channel, is if the suspension is for too long, it just delays Chapman's free agency for a year and the Yanks could get him for parts of two seasons including both postseasons.

Despite Brian Cashman's statements that the Yanks intend to keep all 3 pitchers, there is lingering thought that they might now trade Andrew Miller if they can get enough in return.  As it stands, the Yankees have taken the KC formula of taking the last 3 innings of the game away from a trailing opponent to an almost ridiculous extreme.  In Chapman, Miller and Dellin Betances, the Yanks not only have the 3 highest K/9's in MLB and the highest swinging strike percentages, but they have 3 closer quality pitchers who have demonstrated the ability to go more than 1 inning per appearance.  By mixing and matching, they can have at least 2 available almost every game or they can shut down a game with the lead after 4 innings if they decide they have to.  Of course, they have to get to the 5'th inning with a lead first, and it's not clear how often the Yankees starting rotation can do that.

We can't move on from the Yankees end of the trade without looking at the social aspects of the acquisition.  Leave it to the Yankees to use the unintended consequences of a policy that on the surface should be a huge negative into a winning situation for them.  In the process they exposed all kinds of flaws in MLB's new Domestic Violence policy to say nothing of their own hypocrisy on social issues.  Just for starters, how can a team that bans facial hair to maintain an organizational image, be OK with acquiring a player who is under investigation for domestic violence?  Even more disturbingly, the DV investigation and possible suspension lowered their acquisition price and may well enable them to control his contract for an extra year.  The Yankees were all too happy to take advantage of an ugly situation.  And what about the Dodgers?  Are they the chumps in this situation or the Good Guys?

As for the Reds, they were able to rid themselves of a player they no longer needed since non-contending teams don't need closers.  On the other hand, they got a rather paltry return on a trade that should have been a centerpiece of their rebuild.  Here's the breakdown of the prospects they got in the trade:

Tony Renda, 2B.  B-R, T-R, DOB:  1/24/1991.  5'8", 180 lb.

AA(Nationals):  .267/.333/.340, 1 HR, 13 SB, 8.3 BB%, 6.6 K%, 228 PA.
AA(Yankees):   . 270/.328/.372, 2 HR, 10 SB, 7.9 BB%, 7.9 K%, 304 PA.

Both these lines are from the Eastern League and look at those K rates!

Eric Jagielo, 3B.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  5/17/1992.  6'2", 195 lbs.

AA:  .284/.347/.495, 9 HR, 7.3 BB%, 23.4 K%, 248 PA.

I liked him coming out of college, and he has some pop in his bat.

Rookie Davis, RHP.  DOB:  4/29/1993.  6'3", 235 lb.

A+:  6-6, 3.70, 97.1 IP, 9.71 K/9, 1.66 BB/9.
AA:  2-1, 4.32, 33.1 IP, 6,48 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.

Definite mid-rotation starter potential.

Caleb Cotham, RHP.  DOB:  11/6/1987.  6'3", 215 lb.

AA:  4-2, 2.77, 26 IP, 10.73 K/9, 2.77 BB/9.
AAA:  2-2, 1.74, 31 IP, 8.71 K/9, 1.45 BB/9.
MLB:  1-0, 6.52, 9.2 IP, 10.74 K/9, 0.93 BB/9.

Older bullpen arm.  Peripherals looked great despite the high ERA in a very SSS at the MLB level.

So there you have it.  All 4 of the prospects the Reds got in the trade have a good chance to contribute at the MLB level, but they had to be hoping for at least 1 high ceiling talent in return for Chapman, which they did not get.


  1. It's a great move for the Yanks IMO. Chapman is elite and Betances and Miller don't really mind pitching behind Chapman (Betances pitched in the 8th inning or earlier while Miller is the Betances of Showalter in Baltimore). And for them, it doesn't really cost them a high-ticket item like Judge, Sanchez or Mateo which is good. Rookie Davis broke out last year and can be a good SP for them in the future. Jagielo looks like an everyday player and Renda for the bench and Cotham looks okay reliever.

    The Reds though didn't get a lot of bang for their buck, just like the Frazier trade. They could've gotten better players for Frazier who's All-Star caliber 3B but they only get Peraza and some cookies on the side. They could've gotten more for Chapman but they only got Rookie Davis, Jagielo and some nachos. They got Donaldson'd on this trade if the Yanks got more talent for Miller or the Yanks re-signed Chapman for the Miller-price.

  2. The headline of Aroldis Chapman going to the Dodgers was pretty scary at first. Now that the deal fell through and he went to the American League everything feels right. Every All Star that does not go to the Dodgers is a win for the Giants. There really isn't any quality #2 SP left in FA so the Dodgers would be getting a #3 at best if they go that route. I see the Giants having a much better rotation with Heston and Blackburn in the wings in case of injury. There is also the fact that the Dodgers currently have 4 SP in their rotation that are LHP. Kershaw is Kershaw but the other 3 could get exposed on right handed heavy lineups.

    1. I think the Dodgers want to roll the dice on Kenta Maeda. Its possible he could be a #2.

    2. Eh…Japanese pitchers have had heckuva time staying healthy in MLB.

  3. Rookie Davis sounds much better than William Theron Davis. Wonder if he will revert back to his given name after his rookie year is concluded.

  4. Dodgers sign Scott Kazmir for 3 years. That makes 5 lefties in their rotation! Kershaw, Anderson, Ryu, Kazmir and Wood are all LHP.

    DrB, what do you think of the Dodgers going all left handed? Do you think that is a good thing or will they get exposed fairly often.

    1. Given equal abilities, I don't think handedness matters in the starting rotation. Approximately 50% of the top 100 hitters in MLB, by OPS either hit lefty or are switch-hitters. Where you pay attention to handedness is in the bullpen where you need at least 2 LHP's and not more than 3.

    2. Where an all LHP rotation could bite them is if they face a team with a righty-heavy lineup in a postseason series.

  5. Teams now are loading up on relief pitchers because the old paradigm that relievers are fungible. Now Friedman is leading the charge of the all lefty starting pitching staff. Trend setter!?!?....ahhhh they needed somebody.

    Not a bad deal on its own. But a 5th LH SP?

    1. I believe the Giants had an all-LHP rotation back in the late 70's or early 80's. It didn't last long, not because they were left-handed but because they weren't very good.

    2. Found it! In 1979, the Giants started LHP's in 15 consecutive games using a 4 man rotation of Vida Blue, Rob Knepper, Phil Nastu and John Curtis.