We've still got one day left to see where Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray are on the move and for any other potential wackiness, but a bunch of GMs had a very busy weekend. As with our last check in, we don't have time to cover everything, since there's just been too much action, but we're going to cover some of the most notable and interesting deals that went down over the weekend. To business!
- Jonathan Lucroy to the Rockies
One of the most interesting trades to go down since we last checked in was the deal that sent Lucroy from Texas to Colorado in exchange for a PTBNL or cash. It's interesting for a number of reasons, the first of which is that Lucroy has not been very good at baseball this season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Lucroy is hitting .242/.297/.338, bad even by catcher standards, for a 68 OPS+. His power has been sucked dry, dropping from a .208 ISO last season to .096 this year. To make matters worse, Lucroy has been declining on both sides of the ball, and has gone, in just a couple of years, from being one of baseball's best pitch framers to currently being the worst in MLB. His 0.2 fWAR on the year is worlds away from the 4.5 he put up last year.
Despite all of that, though, Lucroy is actually an improvement at catcher for Colorado. Rockies catchers as a group, are worst in MLB by fWAR at -0.6. As bad as Lucroy has been, Colorado's primary catcher, Tony Wolters has been even worse (.248/.345/.297, 61 OPS+). So Lucroy is actually an improvement over internal options and he comes with some upside. We obviously can't say with certainty whether this is the new Lucroy or whether a move to Coors Field will help him get his groove back, but either way, it's still an improvement for the Rockies.
The other reason that this trade is interesting is that, as you might recall, just last season, Lucroy was one of the big prizes of the trade deadline and cost Texas quite a bit. While he's a rental this season and wouldn't have commanded as much of a return as he did at last year's deadline, his stock has plummeted so far that he's moving at this deadline for either what will probably be a lottery ticket prospect or just money, so that's got to be a tough pill for Texas to swallow.
Grade for Colorado: B+
Grade for Texas: D+
- Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs
One of the other catchers that the Rockies were interested in was Avila, who ended up going to the Cubs in a four-player deal along with reliever Wilson with a couple of prospects going back to Detroit. The 30-year Avila is having his best season since 2011. Over 264 PAs, he's slashing .274/.394/.475 for a 133 OPS+. Catcher wasn't a big of a problem for the Cubs as the Rockies, with primary catcher Willson Contreras hitting .269/.340/.485 (113 OPS+). The newly rejuvenated Avila solves the issue with their current backup, Miguel Montero, and gives them the ability to take advantage of both catchers' platoon splits, give Contreras some R&R and a heavy-hitting bench bat.
The bigger piece moving in the trade is lefty reliever Wilson. Wilson, who has one year of arbitration left after this season, is having a very good year and was one of the best remaining options among relievers on the market. He's striking out 35% of the batters he faces (16th among qualified relievers). He is also, however, walking more batters than he has in a couple of season (3.57 BB/9) and has a 3.22 FIP which is quite a bit higher than his 2.68 ERA. The Cubs didn't need a reliever as badly as some of the teams we covered in our last post (see: the Rockies and Brewers), but Wilson will gives them a lefty reliever without striking platoon splits to use as a setup man who is around for cheap through next season.
The prospects that Chicago is sending back to Detroit are infielder Jeimer Candelario and shortstop Isaac Paredes. After the trade to land Jose Quintana, Candelario was Chicago's top prospect at MLB.com, but his position was blocked by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Paredes is an 18-year old shortstop from Mexico who is doing very well in A-ball and still has a long way to go, but was one of Chicago's top prospects on pretty much every ledger. While Chicago has paid quite a bit in prospect capital to upgrade this season, but they certainly look more poised to claim the division and make another run with the core they have ready now.
While the move to sign Avila was interesting this offseason primarily because it was his dad, Tigers GM Al Avila, doing the signing, the one-year, $2 million deal certainly worked out for Detroit. Getting back a near-MLB-ready corner-infielder and an intriguing high-level young prospect fits the Tigers desire to reload without a complete rebuild perfectly.
Grade for Cubs: B
Grade for Detroit: B+
- Jaime Garcia to the Yankees
After learning that Michael Pineda was going to need Tommy John surgery earlier this month, the Yankees went from quietly exploring rotation upgrades to all hands on deck. They made a move to address the issue by sending RHP prospect Zack Littell and LHP prospect Dietrich Enns to the Twins for Garcia.
Garcia, who is 31 and will be a free agent at the end of season, had only been with the Twins for less than a week after coming over from the Braves for RHP prospect Huascar Ynoa. Garcia (4.29 ERA, 4.04 FIP) will slot in nicely at the back of the Yankees rotation and means they don't have to worry about rolling out Luis Cessa (4.83 ERA, 5.42 FIP) or Caleb Smith (7.20 ERA, 3.75 FIP) anymore. The weird/interesting thing about this trade obviously has to do with the trade that immediately preceded it.
After acquiring Garcia so recently, it was weird to see the Twins change gears so quickly, but their record since the trade and the changing tides of the AL Central made them rethink things and it seems to have been a wise move. In terms of the prospects that Minnesota received, the Twins seem to have upgraded. Littell and Dietrich are closer to being ready for the majors than Ynoa and Littell was ranked 22nd in the Yankees farm system. Ynoa was also ranked 22nd in the Twins' system, but the Yankees farm is much more highly touted, so the Twins were the clearest winner in all of this (insofar as you can really declare winners when talking about prospect trading).
Whether or not New York wants to explore a trade to further boost their rotation in Gray or Darvish, they can at least do so now knowing that it's not a dire need. But they probably should have made a trade with the Braves in the first place, as it seems like Garcia was available for less not so long ago.
Grade for New York: C-
Grade for Twins: A