The 28-year-old Ramirez has bounced between the Giants, Blue Jays and Mets organizations this year, though the majority of his season has been spent in Queens. In 21 innings with the Mets, he’s struggled to a 6.43 ERA with an impressive 26 strikeouts but also a troubling 17 walks. Overall, Ramirez has a 7.18 ERA with 12.6 K/9 against 6.0 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings between the Giants and Mets this year.
The Mariners and Marlins have reportedly agreed to a trade that will send right-handed setup man David Phelps from Miami to Seattle in exchange for a package of four prospects. Center field prospect Brayan Hernandez is the headliner, while the other names in the deal reportedly include right-handers Brandon Miller, Pablo Lopez and Lukas Schiraldi.
Seattle has been playing well of late, getting back to the .500 mark and drawing within 1.5 games of an American League Wild Card spot. However, the Mariners are also 15.5 games back from the Astros in the AL West, which has reportedly led them to look for assets that can be controlled beyond the current season, as their best playoff hope in 2017 is a one-game playoff.
The 30-year-old Phelps fits the bill, in that sense, as he’s controlled through the 2018 campaign via arbitration. He’s earning $4.6MM in 2017, with about $1.86MM of that sum yet owed to him through season’s end.
The former Yankee initially went to Miami alongside Martin Prado as part of the trade that sent Nathan Eovaldi to New York. After spending much of his career as a starter and long reliever, Phelps’ career took off with a 2016 move to a late-inning role. The righty’s velocity ticked from the low 90s to an average in the 93-94 mph range, and he’s dramatically upped his strikeout rate while pitching in a setup capacity.
Dating back to Opening Day 2016, Phelps has worked to a 2.69 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 46.4 percent ground-ball rate through 133 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate is “down” in 2017, but he’s still averaging 9.8 punchouts per nine innings pitched. His arm will be a boost to a Mariners relief corps that currently ranks 13th in baseball with a 4.05 ERA but carries more troubling marks in both FIP (4.44) and xFIP (4.45). Those ERA alternatives come in at 25th and 21st in baseball, respectively, indicating that the Mariners are perhaps fortunate to have gotten the results they have out of their bullpen to date. (Then again, Seattle boasts a superlative defense, particularly in the outfield, so perhaps it should be expected that their pitchers would outperform fielding-independent metrics.)
The Seattle ’pen is currently anchored by sophomore closer Edwin Diaz, who has been inconsistent in 2017 but can overpower opposing lineups with a triple-digit fastball and one of baseball’s best strikeout rates. Nick Vincent has also been brilliant in Seattle, working to a 2.04 ERA in 39 2/3 innings, while southpaw James Pazos has averaged nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings en route to a 3.68 ERA. Former Mariners closer Steve Cishek represents another right-handed option, but health has been an issue for him in recent years as his numbers have declined.
Beyond that, Seattle has seen some of its anticipated setup men, particularly right-hander Dan Altavilla, take a step back in 2017. Phelps figures to pick up some of that slack and will join Diaz, Vincent, Pazos, Cishek, Tony Zych and Marc Rzepczynski in the Mariner bullpen.
Hernandez is the big get for the Marlins in the deal. The 19-year-old ranked as one of the 10 best international free agents in the 2014-15 crop and inked a $1.85MM bonus with Seattle at the time. Hernandez split the 2016 season between the Dominican Summer League and the Rookie-level Arizona League, hitting a combined .278/.325/.425, and he’s off to a .252/.306/.408 start with the Mariners’ short-season Class-A affiliate.
Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com rank Hernandez as Seattle’ No. 6 prospect, noting that he flashes all five tools but is still projection over performance at the moment. He received 60 grades on his speed and arm from Callis and Mayo with a 55 on his glove, and their report notes that his overall offensive development will determine if he can reach his ceiling as an everyday center fielder. Baseball America rated him 16th among Seattle farmhands this past winter, agreeing that the defensive tools are impressive and praising his “solid, consistent contact” but also questioning his ability to generate power now or in the future.
The 22-year-old Miller has spent the season with the Mariners’ Class-A affiliate in the Midwest League, working to a 3.65 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 46.8 percent ground-ball rat in 101 innings/18 starts at that level. Callis and Mayo list his heater at 90-93 mph with good command of the pitch and give him credit for a plus slider, though reports indicate that he lacks an average third offering and could be destined for a bullpen role. He ranked 16th among Mariners prospects, per MLB.com, while BA pegged him 25th among Seattle prospects this offseason. Both reports tout his fastball’s exceptional spin rate. If all breaks right, Miller could pan out as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Lopez is a 21-year-old starter that has spent the year in Class-A Advanced. While his 5.02 ERA through 100 innings doesn’t look appealing, he’s posted an excellent 89-to-13 K/BB ratio with a 49 percent ground-ball rate, creating some optimism that he’s been hit with some poor luck. (A .341 BABIP lends further credence to that notion.) MLB.com placed him 22nd in Seattle’s system and gave him three average offerings (fastball, curveball, changeup) but no plus pitch. He was 31st on BA’s offseason rankings, and their report notes that he has a 2014 Tommy John surgery in his history but is a “supreme strike-thrower” with impressive ground-ball tendencies.
Schiraldi comes from good baseball genes, as his father, Calvin, played in the Majors for parts of eight seasons with the Mets, Red Sox, Padres, Cubs and Rangers. The younger Schiraldi didn’t crack any Mariners top prospect rankings but has a gaudy 15.2 K/9 rate in 37 1/3 innings of work at Class-A Advanced. However, he’s also not particularly young for the level at 23 years of age, and he’s worked to a 4.58 ERA with a 6.5 BB/9 rate.
Ultimately, the Marlins will secure four players in exchange for a year and a half of a quality setup man while also saving a bit of cash for the remainder of the 2017 season. While it’s tempting to look at the sheer volume of players and wonder how this will impact the market for other relievers — especially those that are controlled beyond the 2017 season, such as Brad Hand and Zach Britton — it’s also worth emphasizing that Seattle’s farm system is generally regarded as weak. That bit of context should absolutely be considered when debating the value of other relief arms, and it seems unlikely that the volume of the Phelps deal “raises the bar” for other relievers throughout the league.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand first reported that the Mariners were in talks to acquire a reliever and that Phelps was the target. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi termed the deal “fairly close,” and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan pushed it further to “imminent.” FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the trade was indeed finalized, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that Seattle was sending multiple minor leaguers to Miami. Passan and Heyman added a bit more detail on the return (Twitter links), with Passan ultimately reporting Hernandez as the headliner. Sherman broke news of the other three players in the deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
8:38pm: Sandoval says he’s “waiting for Friday to make a decision,” with the Giants being “one of [the] options,” per ESPN.com’s Marly Rivera.
7:17pm: The Giants have agreed to a minors deal with third baseman Pablo Sandoval, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Sandoval was released earlier today by the Red Sox, though the deal will not be formally entered until his contract has passed through waivers — which (all but certainly) will occur on Friday, Evan Drellich of CSNNE.com tweets.
While the match had been rumored, and is rather unsurprising on paper, it’s still quite a notable reunion for a player who was once one of San Francisco’s most visible stars. Both Sandoval and the Giants have had seasons to forget thus far. The former was released by his most recent organization after a third-straight season marred by injury and underperformance. And the latter currently sits five games back of the Padres in the NL West cellar.
Sandoval, now thirty years of age, was a popular and productive player for seven seasons with the Giants. Over his 3,533 plate appearances, Sandoval slashed a robust .294/.346/.465 and compiled about twenty wins above replacement. That performance earned him a five-year, $95MM contract with the Red Sox, who’ll pay the vast majority of the nearly $50MM remaining (less any prorated portion of the league minimum for time Sandoval spends in the majors from now through 2019).
The Giants tried to keep the affectionately nicknamed Panda, but extension talks never materialized and he spurned the organization in free agency — suggesting in comments at the time that he was happy to be moving on. But Sandoval never found his footing in Boston. His longstanding battle with weight was again an issue, and Sandoval missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury. He got into shape and showed well this spring, but endured a DL stint for a knee problem and struggled both at the bat (.212/.269/.354) and with the glove (-6 DRS; -8.6 UZR/150 innings) over his 32 games in 2017.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Sandoval can jump start his career in the place he once thrived. First, though, he’ll have to earn his way back to the big leagues. It’s important to bear in mind that the sides won’t be committed to one another for very long even if things go well. Unless the deal provides the club with an option of some kind — and it is fair to note that Jose Reyes agreed to such terms with the Mets while the Rockies were paying his contract — then Sandoval will return to the open market at season’s end. That said, it’s possible to imagine an extended reunion if things go well, as the Giants don’t yet have a clear plan for the 2018 season at third base.
Oakland knows what it’s getting in the lumbering Carter, who broke into the majors there back in 2010. But he took only 384 trips to the plate with the A’s before he was shipped to the Astros (along with now-flourishing righty Brad Peacock and catcher Max Stassi) in the deal that brought Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to the bay.
Carter has continued to produce home runs and strikeouts at prodigious rates ever since. Last year, which he spent with the Brewers, there were enough of the former to make up for the latter; Carter led the National League in both categories. But things weren’t working with the Yankees, who signed Carter after he was non-tendered but received only a .201/.284/.370 batting line over his 208 plate appearances.
Clearly, the veteran is never going to shed the swing and miss. He’ll always hit for a ghastly average (.217 lifetime). But despite those flaws, he has typically been a productive overall hitter, due not just to his power but also his ability to draw walks at a better-than-league-average rate (11.5% for his career).
While the A’s currently employ a productive first baseman in Yonder Alonso, he is expected to be in another uniform by the end of the month. That could open an opportunity for Carter to ascend once more to the majors, giving the organization a near-term fill-in while affording him a chance to set himself up for another foray into free agency at the end of the year.
July 19: The Red Sox announced that Sandoval has been released.
July 14: The Red Sox announced that they have activated struggling third baseman Pablo Sandoval from the disabled list and designated him for assignment.
Sandoval is midway through the third season of a five-year, $95MM contract that proved to be a fatal misstep for the organization. Signed on the heels of a six-and-a-half-year span during which he posted a very strong .294/.346/.465 batting line through 3533 plate appearances with the Giants (to say nothing of his terrific postseason work), Sandoval flopped in year one of the pact, hitting just .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers in 505 plate appearances. He made just seven plate appearances in 2016 before undergoing shoulder surgery, and his 2017 work has resulted in a dismal .212/.269/.354 slash through 108 PAs.
Boston will now be on the hook for the remaining $49.8MM that Sandoval is owed through the end of the 2019 season. With a trade effectively unfathomable, Sandoval can either be outrighted to Triple-A (if he accepts the assignment) or released, at which point any club will be eligible to sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
Further exacerbating the pain that Sandoval has caused the Red Sox is the fact that his presence likely factored into the team’s thinking when it came to trading Travis Shaw to the Brewers this past offseason. Shaw, meanwhile, has broken out and been one of baseball’s most productive third baseman in his first half season with the Brewers.
For the time being, the Sox are deploying a makeshift platoon of Deven Marrero and Tzu-Wei Lin at the hot corner, and while that pairing leaves plenty to be desired from an offensive standpoint, it undoubtedly provides more defensive value than Sandoval brought to the table. Nonetheless, the Sox figure to be heavily linked to all of the third basemen that will be available on this summer’s trade market in the 17 days between now and the non-waiver trade deadline.
Of course, Boston also has a rapidly rising in-house option in the form of top prospect Rafael Devers, who ranks among the game’s five to 10 best overall prospects on most midseason rankings (No. 3 per ESPN’s Keith Law, No. 6 per Baseball America, No. 5 per Baseball Prospectus). Devers has yet to take an at-bat at the Triple-A level, and the team has said that he’ll head to Pawtucket before being promoted. That said, Devers has the potential to come up and impact the playoff race at some point in the season’s second half — particularly if president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and his staff don’t acquire a more established option at the hot corner.
Here are Wednesday’s minor moves from around the game…
- The Nationals announced that right-hander Jacob Turner has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Syracuse. Washington briefly selected Turner’s contract on Monday this week in order to add some length to the bullpen while waiting for the arrival of new acquisitions Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Turner didn’t pitch in Monday’s contest and was designated for assignment the following day in order to clear a spot on the roster for Edwin Jackson, who started Tuesday’s game for the Nats. This is the second outright assignment that Turner has accepted with the Nationals this year, which isn’t surprising considering that he’d punt the rest of the money on his contract if he rejected in favor of free agency. The 26-year-old has a 5.08 ERA in 39 big league innings this season and has also struggled to a 6.50 ERA in a smaller sample of 18 Triple-A frames.
The Yankees announced that they’ve designated infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder and first baseman Ji-Man Choi for assignment in order to clear space on the roster for last night’s acquisitions of Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. A third 40-man spot wasn’t needed, as Tyler Clippard went to the White Sox in the trade as well. However, the Yankees did option left-hander Chasen Shreve to clear a 25-man spot.
[Related: Updated New York Yankees depth chart]
The 26-year-old Refsnyder generated a fair bit of optimism among Yankees fans as he rose through the system, but he’s never gotten an extended big league look due to questions about his defense. He’s appeared in 94 games across the past three seasons, logging time at second base, first base and in the outfield corners, but his bat has produced just a .241/.312/.332 output through 240 plate appearances. Those questions about his defense always made him more of a favorite among Yankee fans than in prospect rankings, but Refsnyder does carry a solid .292/.372/.424 batting line through 1244 career PAs at the Triple-A level.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that he’s gotten the sense that enough other clubs are intrigued by Refsnyder’s contact skills that the Yankees will be able to trade him before his DFA window expires. (The new CBA changed that allotted window from 10 days to seven days.) The return isn’t likely to be much, but he’s optionable for the remainder of the season, which could appeal to some clubs in need of bench depth.
Choi tallied just 18 PAs in his brief big league tenure with the Yankees but made them count, slugging a pair of homers and a double in his six games in pinstripes. That impressive showing notwithstanding, he’s a career .181/.279/.386 hitter in 147 PAs between the Halos and Yanks, though like Refsnyder he does come with an impressive Triple-A track record. Through 851 PAs at that level, Choi has raked at a .300/.391/.462 clip. He has one option year remaining after the 2017 season, which could be appealing to clubs on the hunt for depth pieces, but he’s also cleared waivers in the past and came to the Yankees on a minor league deal this past January.
The White Sox announced following tonight’s blockbuster trade that they will promote minor league infielder Yoan Moncada to the Majors tomorrow. Acquired in the team’s offseason trade of Chris Sale, Moncada is widely regarded as one of the game’s top overall prospects and ranks as MLB’s No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus.
Moncada, 22, is off to an excellent start in Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .285/.381/.452 with a dozen homers, nine doubles, three triples and 17 steals (in 24 attempts). He should get everyday at-bats for the Sox at second base, where he’s played exclusively thus far in Triple-A this season.
This won’t be Moncada’s first exposure to the Majors, as he appeared with the Red Sox late in the 2016 campaign but looked overmatched by big league pitching at the time. In a tiny sample of 20 plate appearances, Moncada was able to notch four hits but also struck out a whopping 12 times. Strikeouts remain an issue for Moncada in Triple-A, though he’s made modest improvements in both his strikeout and walk rates this season.
Reports on the switch-hitting Moncada tout him as a potential five-tool player — one who can hit for high average with power, speed, and above-average defense at second base for years to come. His left-handed swing has drawn comparisons to that of Robinson Cano. Baseball America’s report on Moncada marvels at his athleticism, touting that he “possesses the size and strength of a linebacker and he runs like a runaway locomotive.”
If there are any questions about Moncada, they’re largely about his hit tool, though not to the point where many evaluators are too concerned about his future. ESPN’s Keith Law isn’t quite as high on Moncada, but even as a slightly more skeptical observer, he pegged him as baseball’s No. 13 overall prospect earlier this month. Law writes that Moncada still profiles as an above-average regular at second even if his discipline never fully comes around.
Moncada entered the season with just 31 days of Major League service time, and given the timing of his promotion, there aren’t enough days left on the calendar for him to reach the requisite 172 days of service to notch his first full year. The best he can do is wrap up the season with 106 days of service, which would eventually leave him shy of Super Two status after the 2019 campaign (assuming no further demotions to alter his service time trajectory). Moncada, then, wouldn’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season and wouldn’t qualify as a free agent until the 2023 season wraps up.
Of course, financial considerations aren’t necessarily as great a concern for Moncada as they are for most young players. After leaving Cuba, Moncada signed with the Red Sox for a record-shattering $31.5MM signing bonus (that came with a full dollar-for-dollar penalty, meaning he cost Boston $63MM).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The White Sox and Yankees have agreed to a blockbuster deal that will send Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to New York in exchange for outfield prospect Blake Rutherford, left-handed pitching prospect Ian Clarkin, outfield prospect Tito Polo and veteran right-hander Tyler Clippard. The White Sox have formally announced the deal.
While Frazier has been primarily a third baseman in his career, he does bring 740 innings of experience at first base to the table. That’s a clear area of need for the Yankees, who have seen injuries ruin the seasons of Greg Bird and Tyler Austin, while offseason acquisition Chris Carter has been twice designated for assignment and now cut loose back to the open market. The Yankees could deploy Frazier at first base with regularity or put him at third and slide Chase Headley across the diamond, where even his modest production would be an upgrade.
The 31-year-old Frazier is set to hit free agency at season’s end, and while his production this year hasn’t been up to par, he’s turned things on since the the calendar flipped to June. Over his past 37 games, Frazier has batted .234/.361/.508 with nine homers and eight doubles. For a Yankees team that has seen its first basemen bat a collective .208/.295/.391, even Frazier’s overall .207/.328/.432 batting line represents a marked improvement, but if he can sustain his recently increased production, it’ll be a particular boon for manager Joe Girardi’s lineup.
And, in fact, there are plenty of signs that point to some positive regression for Frazier. The slugger has upped his walk rate to a career-high 14.3 percent in 2017 while also cutting his strikeout rate by more than three percent — from 24.5 percent in 2016 to 21.2 percent in 2017. Beyond that, Frazier has cut his infield-fly rate and seen increases in his line-drive and hard-contact rates. As such, it stands to reason that he could continue to improve upon a .214 batting average on balls in play that is currently the second-worst mark among all qualified Major League hitters. Frazier is earning $12MM in 2017, and there’s about $4.92MM of that sum remaining on his contract.
Robertson, of course, is a known commodity to the Yankees. The righty spent the first seven years of his career in the Bronx, working to an excellent 2.81 ERA with 12.0 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. Most of his career in New York was spent setting up for future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, but Robertson thrived in the ninth-inning spotlight in his final season with the Yanks (following Rivera’s retirement), setting him up to sign a four-year, $46MM contract that was at the time one of the five largest contracts ever inked by a reliever.
Now 32 years of age, Robertson is halfway through the third year of that contract and is in the midst of his best season with the Sox. Through 33 1/3 innings on Chicago’s South Side, Robertson has worked to a 2.70 earned run average with 12.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and an even 40.0 percent ground-ball rate. Like Frazier, Robertson is still owed $4.92MM of a $12MM salary this season. He, however, is signed through next year and is set to earn $13MM in 2018.
As for Kahnle, the 27-year-old was also once property of the Yankees, having risen through their minor league ranks before eventually making his big league debut in Colorado. The flamethrowing righty has long displayed a propensity for missing bats, but he’s taken that skill to new heights in 2017 while also dramatically slashing his walk rate. Through 36 innings in 2017, Kahnle has posted a ridiculous 15.0 K/9 rate to go along with a 41.1 percent grounder rate. The resulting 2.50 ERA looks impressive on its own, but metrics like FIP (1.47), xFIP (1.63) and SIERA (1.62) all feel that he may actually be unfortunate to be sporting an ERA even that high.
Further adding to Kahnle’s value is that he very much comes with long-term potential. If this proves to be a breakout rather than an aberration, he’d be controllable through the 2020 season via the arbitration process. Kahnle entered the year with just over two years of big league service time, so he’ll wrap up the 2017 campaign with three-plus years of service and be arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Adding Robertson and Kahnle to a bullpen that already features both Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances gives the Yankees a powerhouse relief corps to work with not only in 2017 but also through at least 2018, after which Robertson will be eligible for free agency. That group will be joined by an excellent multi-inning weapon in the form of Adam Warren as well as 26-year-old Chad Green, who is in the midst of his own breakout season — one that closely resembles that of Kahnle (1.75 ERA, 12.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 in 36 innings). Chasen Shreve is in the midst of a solid season and seems likely to stick as a left-handed option.
Clippard’s inclusion in this deal is primarily a means of offsetting some of the salary that the Yankees are taking on. Signed to a two-year, $12.25MM deal prior to the start of the 2016 season (by the D-backs), Clippard was a solid midseason pickup for New York last year but has struggled to a 4.95 ERA this year thanks to a recent spike in his home run rate. He’s still owed about $2.5MM of this season’s $6.125MM salary, so his inclusion will negate about a quarter of the $9.85MM that the Yankees are adding to their 2017 payroll in acquiring Frazier and Robertson. He’ll also give the ChiSox a veteran option at the back of a very inexperienced bullpen.
Clippard’s inclusion may have helped sway the Yankees into parting with a bit more in a what is essentially a three-player package that is headlined by Rutherford. The 20-year-old Rutherford was New York’s first-round pick in 2016 (No. 18 overall) and is off to a .281/.342/.391 start with Class-A Charleston. While those numbers don’t immediately jump out, he ranked as the game’s No. 36 overall prospect on Baseball America’s midseason update less than two weeks ago.
Rutherford entered the year as MLB.com’s No. 30 overall prospect, though his unspectacular start to the season may well cause that ranking to dip a bit. (He did not, for instance, rank on the midseason Top 50s of ESPN’s Keith Law or Baseball Prospectus.) Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo noted that he has the potential to hit for average and power, though their report notes that he’s likely to end up in an outfield corner — probably left field due to an arm that is more average than great.
The Yankees dealt from an area of depth in moving Rutherford, as Aaron Judge has cemented himself in right field, while Clint Frazier is doing his best to cement himself as a big leaguer right now. Beyond that, Aaron Hicks is controlled through 2019, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner both remain under contract, and the team is obviously hoping for a full recovery from Dustin Fowler, who suffered a severe knee injury in his MLB debut.
Clarkin, meanwhile, ranked 19th in a stacked Yankees farm system this winter, per Callis and Mayo, while ESPN’s Keith Law had him 13th. peg him as a possible mid-rotation starter if all goes according to plan, praising a fastball that sits 90-93 mph and reaches 95 mph. Clarkin commands the pitch well, and Baseball America gives him a chance to have an above-average curveball. He’s repeating Class-A Advanced and has impressed with a 2.61 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 53.7 percent ground-ball rate. With 175 1/3 innings under his belt in High-A, the former first-round pick (No. 33 overall, 2013) could conceivably be in line for a promotion to Double-A this summer.
Polo, 22, is hitting .298/.358/.446 with five homers, 13 doubles, seven triples and 25 steals through 316 plate appearances between Class-A Advanced and Double-A this season. The former Pirates farmhand went to the Yankees as part of last season’s Ivan Nova trade with Pittsburgh but didn’t crack the team’s top 30 prospects this offseason.
Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago first tweeted that the Yankees were the “closest” team to landing this trio. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports said a deal was “very close” (on Twitter). USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that Rutherford was the headliner (on Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Clarkin was in the deal (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the White Sox would take back Clippard and his contract (also via Twitter). Sherman added that there was no additional cash changing hands. Levine tweeted that there was a fourth player in the deal.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Diamondbacks have made a massive move to upgrade their offense, acquiring outfielder J.D. Martinez from the Tigers in exchange for infield prospects Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King. Both teams have announced the deal. There’s reportedly no cash changing hands in the deal, so the D-backs are on the hook for the $4.82MM that remains on Martinez’s $11.75MM salary.
In acquiring Martinez, the D-backs will be adding the very best rental bat on the market. The 29-year-old missed the first six weeks of the season due to a sprained ligament in his foot but has stormed back into the lineup with a .305/.388/.630 batting line and 16 homers through 232 plate appearances in 57 games. Arizona currently has Yasmany Tomas on the shelf and has been relying upon Daniel Descalso and Chris Herrmann to take at-bats in left field.
By picking up Martinez, the Snakes will not only be massively upgrading their lineup, they’ll also be preventing one of their top division rivals and a potential Wild Card opponent, the Rockies, from acquiring the slugger. Colorado had also reportedly expressed interest in Martinez, but he’ll now slot into a D-backs lineup that already features the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta. Beyond that, though, the D-backs will add a drastically needed upgrade against left-handed pitching. Arizona ranks last in the Majors with a 65 wRC+ against lefties, and Martinez’s right-handed bat will be a significant boost.
From a defensive standpoint, Martinez won’t do the D-backs many favors, as he’s rated poorly in right field over the past couple of seasons, perhaps in part due to his foot troubles. (Martinez had graded out quite well in right as recently as 2015.) Then again, Tomas has regularly graded out as one of the game’s worst defenders in left field, while Descalso is an infielder that has been playing left out of necessity.
With Martinez set to be a free agent this offseason, the trade stands to benefit him as well. Because he’s been moved, he’ll no longer be eligible to receive a qualifying offer when the season is up, which should only strengthen his case on the open market.
Of the prospects in the deal, Lugo comes with the most fanfare. He entered the season ranked fourth among D-backs farmhands, according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. The 22-year-old is hitting .282/.325/.428 with seven homers, 21 doubles and four triples through 369 plate appearances in Double-A despite being a couple of years younger than the average age of his competition. He’s played shortstop and third base throughout his minor league career. Callis and Mayo note that he could project as a utility player, but he’s made enough strides recently that a future as a regular isn’t out of the question. Given his inclusion in the deal, the Tigers likely view Lugo as a potential regular at either one of those two positions.
Alcantara, also a middle infielder, ranked 15th among Arizona prospects on that same list prior to the season. He’s off to a .279/.344/.362 batting line with three homers, 15 doubles, a pair triples and 11 steals (albeit in 21 tries) in 378 PAs at Class-A Advanced. Also like Lugo, he’s rather young for his level, having turned 21 just last week. Callis and Mayo praise him as an outstanding defender and labeling him a “no-doubt-about-it shortstop.” He has the strongest arm in Arizona’s system, they add, and his glovework is so strong that he needn’t develop much as a hitter to be an everyday player in the Majors.
King, the youngest of the bunch at 18, recently opened his season in the Rookie-level Arizona League after spending the 2016 season in the Dominican Summer League. Baseball America’s Ben Badler ranked King among the best prospects in the DSL, praising his plus-plus speed and noting that he has 50-steal potential to go along with a compact swing and good bat speed. King is also an up-the-middle player and has split his time between shortstop and second base, though Badler notes that his slightly below average arm makes him a better fit at second base rather than shortstop.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com first said the two sides were close to a deal (Twitter link). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported the deal was in place (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of FanRag and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports/MLB Network noted that the D-backs were sending multiple prospects to Detroit (Twitter links). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweeted the prospects that were in the deal. Rosenthal tweeted that there’s no cash changing hands in the deal.