While the trades over the last few days haven't been quite as headline-making as we were getting accustomed to, there have still been plenty of them, so much that we can't even get to all of them. Without further ado, and because we have a lot of ground to cover, let's get right into it.
- Eduardo Núñez to the Red Sox
As we touched on when we covered the Yankees-White Sox deal last week, one added benefit of New York snagging Todd Frazier was that it kept him away from their rivals in Boston. In case the recent news of Pablo Sandoval's release didn't make it clear, third base has been very, very bad for the Red Sox this year.
So, bringing third baseman Núñez, who can play pretty much anywhere on the diamond except catcher as well as a bit of left field, into the fold seems like a wise move. Núñez is hitting .308/.334/.417 this season, and while the defensive stats aren't particularly wild about him no matter where he plays, he's still an instant upgrade at the plate and brings with him some respectable base stealing skills (18 out of 23 on the year), which could come in handy in a pinch in the postseason.
Of course, to complicate matters, top third base prospect Rafael Devers was just called up this week. If his auspicious start (.250/.400/.625 with a home run over 8 ABs) doesn't pan out and he has issues adjusting to MLB caliber pitching, Núñez gives them a safety blanket at third. And if Devers does work out, Núñez gives manager John Farrell a very useful bench player and plenty of options for spelling his players down the stretch.
In terms of what the Giants received in return, it was a couple of pitching prospects. Shaun Anderson, a 22-year-old reliever who might cut it as a starter, was Boston's 3rd round pick last year. Gregory Santos is a 17-year-old, hard-throwing lottery ticket out of the Dominican Republic who is likely a half-decade away from the majors if he even makes it at all. Boston didn't give up very much much for Núñez, but there wasn't much in the way of demand at third base after Frazier went to the Yanks, so credit to the Giants for coming up with a couple of interesting prospects when there was really only one team shopping.
Grade for the Giants: B+
Grade for the Red Sox: B
- Anthony Swarzak to the Brewers
31-year old RHP Swarzak was a reclamation project for the White Sox this past offseason, signed to a minor league contract. His new approach with location has paid off and his 14.2% swinging strike rate, career low 71.9% contact rate and a 21.0 K-BB%have turned him into a very effective reliever, even if he falls just outside of the "elite reliever" category by most of his peripheral stats. Regardless, though, with 2.23 ERA/2.35 FIP and 1.7 fWAR (7th in MLB), Swarzak will be an upgrade to a bullpen that has been in serious trouble over the past month or so.
Milwaukee sent a AAA outfielder in the form of Ryan Cordell to Chicago in exchange. The prospect folks are split on whether he's a fourth outfielder type or has the potential to start, but there's definitely some upside to the choice, and it's not a bad get for a rental reliever having very good season.
As for how much Swarzak will move the needle for his new team, the Brewers currently sit at 1.5 games behind the Cubs and Chicago has done far more to improve prior to the deadline in acquiring Carlos Quintana. But this was an easy way to upgrade the roster without spending very much prospect capital to do so, which is probably the smartest thing that the Brewers can do in a season which they seemingly stumbled into contending ahead of schedule.
Grade for the White Sox: B
Grade for the Brewers: A-
- Pat Neshek to the Rockies
While we're on the subject of reclamation rental relievers, Colorado acquired Neshek from Philadelphia in exchange for three prospects. If the Brewers bullpen had been struggling over the past month, the Rockies' bullpen has been a flaming bag of poop stinking up your doorstep. Over the last 30 days, they've been the worst in baseball by FIP (5.55) and fWAR (-0.3). Neshek should help with that.
Since signing a one-year deal with the Phillies this offseason, the 36-year old All Star has been enjoying the best year of his 11-year career. His strikeouts are up, his walks and home runs are down en route to a 1.12 ERA and 1.94 FIP, making him the best available rental by most stats.
The three prospects that are going to Philadelphia are all in A-ball. Without digging too much into prospect nerdery right here since we have more to cover (go here if you want that), it suffices to say that, they're all a long way from making the majors and aren't big pieces in Colorado's system.
While the division is increasingly out of reach now that the Dodgers have turned into a behemoth and look like the best team in baseball, the Rockies are currently in the second Wild Card spot and just 1.5 games back from the Diamondbacks for the first. Colorado has one of the best farm systems in baseball and they were probably smart to grab the best rental reliever available rather than attempt to work out a bigger deal to solve their bullpen problems, especially with relievers being such fickle mistresses from year to year.
Grade for the Rockies: A-
Grade for the Phillies: B