The Rays’ primary motivation in inserting themselves into the Athletics’ recent acquisition of Jurickson Profar was likely opening a spot on their 40-man roster, writes ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription link). In return for sending Brock Burke and Kyle Bird to Texas, the Rays received homer-prone reliever Emilio Pagan from Oakland and the Rangers’ draft pick in Competitive Balance Round A. Additional picks are always welcome, but the most important aspect of this draft pick is the slot value it adds to the Rays’ bonus pool. The pick comes with a slot value of between $1.6MM and $2MM, a valuable sum that extends beyond the pick itself. By boosting their bonus pool, the Rays have more flexibility should they want to go over slot, which is one way to snag a potential star. Given the Rays deep pool of young talent at the MLB level right now, they can afford to turn some of that excess prospect depth into further prospect wealth down the road.
A few other notes from around the American League…
- For the Athletics’ part in the above deal, Law notes they took advantage of their own area of depth, the bullpen, to get their new starting second baseman. The signing of Joakim Soria more than makes up for the loss of Pagan, and in Profar they now have an inexpensive, versatile player who may still have some upside. Functionally, he’s not all that different from the guy he’ll be replacing, Jed Lowrie, who was brought in as a similarly high-upside, low-cost, versatile option when they went out and got him from another division rival via trade (Houston).
- The Angels have had a tough time building a winner around Mike Trout, but they’ve suffered their share of bad luck too, particularly in the rotation, per Jonah Keri of cbssports.com. The history of injuries to promising rotation arms is disheartening: Garrett Richards with knee issues in 2014 leading up to Tommy John surgery, Matt Shoemaker getting hit in the head with a line drive near the end of a promising 2016 season, Tyler Skaggs with Tommy John in 2016, Andrew Heaney’s various ailments that kept him sidelined for most of 2016 and 2017, and of course, Shohei Ohtani’s latest injury – and that’s before even touching on the bullpen. Keri documents the poor performances of acquired position players as further misfortune suffered under Arte Moreno’s leadership: Albert Pujols, Vernon Wells, Zack Cozart and Josh Hamilton all disappointed relative to their pre-Angels production. It does begin to feel like the Angels are cursed, and yet poor major league scouting could also be the culprit in many of these cases. The recent deals for Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, then, nicely sidestepped the issues above by building pitching depth on short-term deals, and Keri suggests a furthering of that strategy by pursuing buy low candidates like Sonny Gray, Julio Teheran or even Yasmani Grandal, should his asking price come down.