By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
After not trading Bryce Harper at The July 31st Trade Deadline, The Nationals have just placed him, along with second baseman Daniel Murphy on Revocable Trade Waivers. This shows that they are now willing to trade off start Bryce Harper, who after a very hot start to the second half of the season, could be much more heavily sought after. Let's look at a few teams that should be interested in Harper in the next coming days, and up until the deadline.
1.) NY Yankees
The Yankees had lost all-star outfielder Aaron Judge to a hit by pitch, which resulted in a DL placement on July 27th. Since then, The Yankees have been 11-9, including a brutal 4 game sweep by The Red Sox. It’s clear The Yankees are missing Judges bat, and The Yankees could use the current hot bat of Harper. But one question that will arise is what do you do once Judge returns? Do you put Harper, or Judge in the DH role, but then what do you do with Stanton? I highly doubt The Yankees would want to regulate any of the 3 to a bench role, and the only possible thing I could think of them doing is moving Stanton to first base. However that could solve one problem if Stanton does fine at first, or cause another if Stanton does horrible at first. In the end though, The Yankees do have the prospect talent to acquire The National corner outfielder.
2.) Cleveland Indians
The Indians outfield is currently very weak. The only guy in that OF that’s hitting is Michael Brantley, while Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer, Rajai Davis, and Melky Cabrera all struggle. Other options like Lonnie Chisenhall, Leonys Martin, and Tyler Naquin sit on The DL, while young Bradley Zimmer also struggled and was subsequently sent to Triple-A. While they could go with an unconventional option, and acquire an infielder and move Jason Kipnis or Jose Ramirez to the grass since both have seen time there before in their careers, I do not see them doing that, and keeping that as a last resort option. That makes Bryce Harper a great fit for The Indians. Another thing going for The Indians is the fact that they have some prospects. While I do not see them willing to give up a guy like Triston McKenzie for a Bryce Harper that struggled to get the year started, and is a one month rental+postseason, they should have enough higher rated guys in the farm to acquire Harper
3.) Houston Astros
The Astros look to be going deep into the playoffs again, but like The Indians, they also have a weak outfield. Newly extended George Springer is having an ok year, but nothing close to his elite-level season last year. The same can also be said for Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez. Jake Marisnick currently sits on The DL, but he’s always been best used as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch runner, or a bat off the bench. Plus The Astros have players that may not be top 100 guys, but have been performing well in the minors, or are almost MLB ready including Cionel Perez, Josh James, Corbin Martin, Garrett Stubbs, and Rogelio Armenteros.
4.) Oakland A’s
The A’s seem like a weird choice for a landing spot for Harper, but hear me out. The second weakest position that isn’t starting pitching The A’s need to fix is the outfield, and even then, they’ve helped their starters by having a deep bullpen. The A’s have mainly used Mark Canha in center field, with Stephen Piscotty and Matt Joyce making up the corner. Joyce is following 2 very solid seasons up with a down year, and Piscotty and Mark Canha are both having OK, but unimpressive seasons. Since The A’s look to be a potential big time contender this season, they could use that one truly big bat in their line-up. That’s where Harper comes in. Plus even after all the trades The A’s have made, even if they’ve been smaller ones, The A’s still have a good farmy system to trade from. Though they probably won’t give up a player like Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, or Sean Murphy, I could see them making a trade that consists of Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, and/or a higher rated prospect that isn’t a top 100 guy like Kyler Murray, Austin Beck, or Lazaro Armenteros.
By: Noah Wright
The third player, who when the trade was made was just a PTBNL, in The Chris Archer-to-The Pirates swap was announced yesterday. Along with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, former 2017 first round draft pick Shane Baz will also head to Tampa’s farm-system. However I think that the trade went from pretty fair on both sides to overpay. Now that the trade is finalized, let's re-examine The Chris Archer swap
To start, let's look back at how this trade came to fruition. Former Tampa Bay Ray starter Chris Archer was in many trade talks for a while before The July Deadline. A handful of teams had shown interest, including The Padres, Yankees, along with The Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers. However around deadline time, The Pirates were fresh off an 11 game winning streak, and put themselves back into a contending position. This made them a buyer at the deadline, and another team to be added to the list of potential Chris Archer suitors. Just an hour and two minutes before The Deadline was over, The Pirates emerged as the team to acquire Chris Archer.
Now let's look at all the players that were originally involved in this swap. The obvious big piece in this deal was Chris Archer. Archer had shown promise early in his career with The Rays, but hasn’t recorded an ERA under 4 since 2015. However that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been somewhat useful. Between 2016 and 2017, Archer provided a 4.05 ERA, but a 3.60 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, and showed some decent control with 2.8 walks/9, and a high 10.8 K’s/9. His numbers with Tampa were pretty similar in 2018. Before being dealt to Pittsburgh, Archer ad a 4.31 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.285 WHIP, and a near identical BB/9 and K/9 rate (2.9/9.6). However I do see him doing better in the future with The Pirates. Archer is moving from a very hitter friendly environment (Hitter friendly park, plays in the same division as The Red Sox and Yankees) to a more pitcher friendly environment. The first player I want to look at that’s heading back to Tampa Bay is Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow was one of The Pirates former highly touted farm hands, ranking in the top 20 prospect range multiple times according to Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus. However when Glasnow eventually did make it to the majors, he greatly struggled with control problems. Last season Glasnow walked nearly 6.5 (6.4) batters per 9, and this season with The Bucs, he walked about 5.5 per 9. This season, Glasnow has mainly pitched out of the pen, and owns a 4.34 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.446 WHIP. He also showed improvement in preventing the long ball, with just a .8 HR/9 rate. However I think one of Glasnow’s biggest downfalls was his confidence. If any Pirate fan has watched Glasnow pitched, you know that he never looks too confident when pitching, and maybe it was enough to mess up his performance. The second of three player The Pirates gave up was Austin Meadows. Meadows was another highly touted prospect in The Pirates farm system, and showed some promise once reaching The Bigs. For the two months of his career (Mid-May to June), Meadows was batting .314/.351/.529 with 5 home runs, 4 stolen bases and 13 RBI’s in just 131 plate appearances. But once Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco all started to hit well, Meadows fell as the odd man out, and only receiving playing time sparingly. Throughout July, Meadows only got 34 plate appearances, and batted a weak .212/.235/.242. Overall though before being traded, Meadows has a line of .292/.327/.468 with 5 home runs, 13 RBI’s, but was worth -1 defensive WAR.
But this is the part of the trade I don’t like. The Pirates can make good reasoning for trading both Meadows and Glasnow, but I can’t think of a truly good reason to trade Shane Baz. Baz was their 2017 first round draft pick, and was doing OK in rookie ball. He had a 3.97 ERA, 3.91 FIP. However he was struggling with control with a 4.6 BB/9 rate and just a 2.35 strikeouts/walk ratio. BaZ is ranked #95 among all prospects according to MLB.com, and his most dominant pitch, a fastball, can reach up to the higher 90’s. I do understand that you sometimes have to give something to get something, but if you have to give up a player that showed well when given regular playing time in the majors, and a First Round pick for a pitcher that never consistently showed ace potential, I don’t think you should make that trade.
Right now, it does look like an overpay for The Pirates. However you have to remember that most of the players Tampa Bay received were unproven at the major league level. Sure Meadows did good when given regular playing time, (I know that I used this as a reason this trade was an overpay, but hear me out), but how do we know if that was a fluke? How do we know that these two starts with Tampa Bay for Glasnow aren’t just flukes as well? Plus, Baz is 19, hasn’t even reached single-A yet. Who’s to say that in 3 or so years when Baz is supposed to be ready, Baz will still be the prospect he is now? In the end, I do think it’s an overpay for The Pirates, but I’m not ready to say The Pirates completely lost this trade, and I think the only way we find out if this was truly an overpay is in 2-3 years when each player has had a good amount of playing time with each of their new teams.
By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
JD Martinez has had an overall fantastic season. The DH/LF has batted .333/.401/.669 with 37 home runs, 104 RBI’s, and worth 186 wRC+. What’s more impressive is that he leads The AL in home runs, RBI’s, and isn’t that far behind teammate Mookie Betts for the batting title. If he takes over the batting title, JD could take home a triple-crown, but even if he does overtake Mookie in average and wins The Triple-Crown, will it even be enough for him to win MVP? I contest that even with a triple-crown season, JDM still won’t win MVP, and I’m here to explain why.
To start, there’s so much competition for The AL MVP. Teammate Mookie Betts looks to be one of the front runners for MVP. Even with Mike Trout on The DL, he’s always in contention for the MVP. On the pitching side, another one of JDM’s teammates may even get some consideration. Chris Sale is currently pitching for a 1.97 ERA, 1.95 FIP, .849 WHIP, and very impressive 13.5 K/9 rate, while only walking about 2 batters per 9. Sale also has the chance to reach 300+ strikeouts on the season for the second year in a row. Indians’ third baseman Jose Ramirez also looks to be a good contender for MVP as well. Ramirez is currently batting .298/.409/.624 with 34 home runs, 78 RBI’s, and 172 wRC+. Another thing worth noting that like Betts, Ramirez is on pace to reach a 30/30 season. It’s also not completely out of the question if he could reach 40/40. Something that hasn’t been done since Alfonso Soriano in 2006.
However I think the big underlying reasons JD Martinez could still not win MVP even if he gets a Triple-Crown is the position he plays. Martinez has mainly seen time at DH, and when he plays corner outfield every so often, he’s worth -1.1 in defensive WAR. Compared to previously mentioned players, Mookie has been worth .9 defensive WAR this season, Ramirez has been worth 1 defensive WAR, and Trout has been worth .8 defensive WAR this season. JDM also isn’t contributing much on the base paths either. The least amount of stolen bases among the trio I have mentioned, Trout has the least at 21. WAR also agrees that JDM isn’t as valuable as some other players. Baseball Reference pegs him at 5.6 WAR, but peg Ramirez, Betts, and Trout around 7-to-8 WAR
In the end, I do not see JD Martinez winning The MVP, even if he wins The Triple Crown. MVP is for the most valuable player in each league, and there are players who provide more value than JDM. JD may provide value in his bat, but there are players who are batting just as good as him, while also providing value with speed, and fielding ability, something that Martinez lacks.
By: Jeffery Romeu
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
The Miami Marlins decided to trade Justin Bour to the Philadelphia Phillies for 22-year-old Minor League Pitcher McKenzie Mills. With the Phillies being a possible contender for a deep playoff run and the Marlins in a complete rebuild, it is no surprise both teams decided to pull the trigger for these players. Bour didn’t draw too much attention in the trade deadline since he has been criticized for his overall lack of athleticism and disappointing 2018 season compared to his breakout 2017. Mills was drafted in by the Washington Nationals in 2014 but has been on the move ever since. However, I believe neither team won this trade.
Bour has had a very poor 2018 season, partially due to multiple injuries and exposure to powerful pitching. Currently, Bour has .227/.347/.412 and is a below average fielder but has 19 homeruns and 54 RBIs. The Phillies traded for Bour to gain some power in order to prepare for the playoffs as they are the favorites to win the National League East Division. In the deal between the Marlins and the Phillies, the Marlins agreed to pay a portion of Bour’s $900,000 arbitration contract for this season and Mills complete salary. In recent trades the Marlins have received very high-quality prospects, but Mills may not be one of them.
While Mills was drafted by the Nationals, he was traded to the Phillies for Howie Kendrick and now to the Marlins. While many scouts see potential for Mills as a major league starter, he has struggled in the minors posting a 3.51 ERA with a strikeout rate of just above 20%. He is also not listed in the top 100 overall MLB Prospects and while he was listed at 22nd on the Phillies in the beginning of the season, he was unlisted when he was traded to the Marlins. If Mills succeeds in the majors, it’ll be a really nice surprise for the Marlins.
In addition to trading Bour, the Marlins promoted Minor League Player Rafael Ortega who has had a productive time in minors last year with the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles and this year with the Marlins. Kyle Barraclough has been placed on the 10-day DL with lower back stiffness, as a break may be the best for him as he has struggled heavily since the start of July. Finally, Lewis Brinson is likely to return to the Marlins in September and Garrett Cooper is expected to begin rehabbing for his return as well. The Marlins are in full tank mode now and will be experimenting with various minor league players to test their potential for the future.
By: Noah Wright
Brandon Wade/Getty Images
One of The A’s biggest problems on an otherwise good team is their starting pitching. They’ve kind of used patchwork throughout the year that includes Brett Anderson, Edwin Jackson, and Trevor Cahill. While each have had solid seasons, they don’t have very many starters they can heavily rely on to provide regular decent innings. The only sure thing for The A’s rotation next season is Sean Manaea. Their opening day starter, Kendall Graveaman struggled very much to start the season, and then was optioned to the minors in June. #3 starter Daniel Mengden was really inconsistent, having a bad March/April, really good May, and a bad June, which eventually lead to a Triple-A option. After recording a 5.23 ERA in 41 innings, Andrew Triggs was placed on The DL, and move to The 60-day DL in July. Frankie Montas has also been inconsistent too. The A’s will more than likely be buyers throughout the off-season, and more than likely could compete with The Astros for The AL West. So let's take a look at some players The A’s could show interest in throughout this off-season
1.) Drew Pomeranz
Pomeranz has had a horrible season this year. He’s been injured for all of June and most of July, and has a 6.31 ERA, 5.96 FIP, and very high 5.6 walk/9 rate in 51 and a third innings this season. However before this season, he had a 3.24 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 3.4 walk/9 rate, and 9.1 K/9 rate in nearly 500 innings between 2014 and 2017. Plus 155 of those innings were from when he was in an A uniform. However one problem with Pomeranz is that he’s not known for going deep into games. Between 2016 and 2017 when he mainly worked as a starter, he averaged just under 5 and two thirds innings per start. Overall though Pomeranz can provide some solid innings, and should be on The A’s radar when they look into adding some starting depth.
2.) Gio Gonzalez
Gio, like Pomeranz, is another former A. Gonzalez has had a solid 2018 season. After throwing 7 innings of one run ball against The Braves today, Gonzalez has a 3.89 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 8 K/9, but a high 4.34 walk/9 rate in 125 innings. His numbers might look better though if it wasn’t for his last start on August 5th where he was responsible for 5 earned runs in just 3 and two thirds innings of work. However one problem that will likely arise if they do decide to pursue Gonzalez is other bidders. The A’s aren’t exactly big budget spenders, and if other teams that are richer than The A’s, they may have to look at other alternatives.
3.) Nathan Eovaldi
One of those alternatives could be Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi was one deadline piece The Red Sox acquired from The Rays earlier this season. His combined 72 innings with both East division team have produced a 3.38 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and very low 1.1 walk/9 rate. While he does have a 1.7 HR/9 rate this season, he did own a .8 homerun/9 rate between 2011 and 2016 before missing 2017 with Tommy John surgery.
4.) Anibal Sanchez
Sanchez originally latched on with Atlanta on a minor league deal over last off season, and it’s been one of the best minor league signings this season. Sanchez has delivered a 2.38 ERA, 3.72 FIP, and 1.047 WHIP in 86 innings, all of which are the lowest they’ve been since his prime days with The Tigers. His perferials are also pretty decent, as he has a 8.8 K/9 rate, 2.7 BB/9 rate, and so far a career low 6.7 hits/9 rate. Plus he’s been worth 1.5 WAR. Sanchez can probably be acquired over the off season on a cheap deal, which makes him a perfect target for The A’s.
5.) Lance Lynn
Lynn’s start to the season with The Twins was rough. His ERA reached above 5 (5.10), along with his FIP getting to 4.72. The normally low walk rate starter’s BB/9 rate also went to 5.5. At the deadline, the veteran starter was dealt to The Yankees to be a swingman type of pitcher, and his first 11.2 innings have been successful. In NY, Lynn has yet to give up an earned run, home run, and has walked just one guy, along with his FIP is currently sitting at 1.01. However it is just an 11 inning sample, so he could become inconsistently bad in a few more starts in a Yankee uniform.
The one weak link in The A’s roster this season is their rotation. The only sure thing in the rotation for next season is Sean Manaea. Almost every piece in that rotation has been fairly inconsistent. One thing that they definitely will be interested in is adding some rotation help. Along with the players I mentioned above, I do want to bring up that they could bring back Trevor Cahill who has been a decent patchwork piece for the team this season. One other solution The A’s could go with is having a shallow rotation, and keep a deep bullpen, the plan that they’ve seemed to go with this season. Overall The A’s should look for rotation help. A better rotation could help them rival maybe even The Astros for The West Division Title.
By: Jeffery Romeu
Photo By Jon Dover
The Miami Marlins have been completely eliminated from playoff contention with 17.5 games back in their division and 16.5 games back from the top of the National League Wild Card race. So, I guess it is time to once again look at their prospects and the potential for the future. Monte Harrison who plays for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in Double-A is the highest player listed on the top 30 list of Marlins prospects with Sandy Alcantara being the second, but Alcantara has already been promoted to the majors so let’s disregard his ranking. The third highest ranked player is starting pitcher Nick Neidert who has continued to impress in his time in Double-A with the Jumbo Shrimp. In my opinion, Neidert should be the highest ranked player in the Marlins Minor League System and Harrison shouldn’t even be placed in the top 10.
Neither Harrison nor Neidert were drafted by the Marlins. Harrison was acquired in the Christian Yelich trade that sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers and Neidert came to the Marlins in the trade that sent Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners. Harrison is currently having a difficult year even though he is listed at #78 overall in MLB Prospects and has been touted by most scouts as a 20/20 guy with considerable value with his defense. Currently, Harrison has a .233 batting average and while he has stolen 23 bases, he has struck out 173 times in 110 games. While it is still too early to tell if he will continue to struggle, it is important to note that his consistency with a bat is heavily lacking.
On the other hand, Neidert has proven to be such a strong pitcher, he is almost certainly going to be called up to Triple-A New Orleans before the end of the year. This season Neidert has pitched in over 125 innings, has struck out 131 batters, encompassed an ERA of 2.95, and a 1.11 WHIP. Just recently, Neidert struck out 13 batters in a game while tossing an eight-inning shutout with zero walks. With a mid 90’s fastball and strong changeup, it’s understandable why most scouts list him as a No. 4 starter. However, I believe if he continues to dominate when he gets called up to Triple-A, he will be a top of the line starter for the Marlins.
A few other Minor League players for the Marlins to watch for are Jorge Guzman, Isan Diaz, Jordan Yamamoto (read previous article), and returning from Tommy John Surgery, Braxton Garrett.
By: Noah Wright
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Pirates arguably had one of the best deadlines this season. They were able to acquire decent, and controllable MLB talent without having to deplete the farm system. However, they entered July looking like a sub-.500 team. So now that it’s been a little over a week since the deadline, how have the trades they’ve made helped the team overall.
The Pirates big move was acquiring former Rays’ starter Chris Archer. For Archer, they had to give up Tyler Glasnow, and former top prospect Austin Meadows. Meadows was the only piece that I was not happy to see leave, but The Rays were not willing to deal Archer without Meadows included. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Archer had a 4.31 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 2.9 walk rate, and struck out 9.6 batters per 9. However, he was pitching in a hitter friendly park in a division that held the two best teams in baseball, along with The DH. Another thing that adds to Archer’s contract is that he’s affordably controllable through 2021. The first piece in the deal was Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow had shown that he struggles with control problems with a 5.5 BB/9 rate this season. He does have a 11.6 K/9 rate, and .8 home run/9 rate with The Bucs too over 56 innings of work. Meadows was a prospect that many considered McCutchen’s replacement, and he looked good in the first few weeks he was in the majors. However once Marte, Dickerson, and Polanco all started to perform very well, he seemed like the odd man out. He fell into a slump after not receiving much playing time, and was eventually optioned to triple-A. If The Pirates want to compete, they’ve finally shown that they’re willing to part with some prospects to acquire MLB talent. If Archer can perform well now that he’s in a much more pitcher friendly situation, he could be the #2, or even ace level pitcher that we’ve been able to see Archer perform at before. The starting rotation was fairly solid before Archer got to Pittsburgh. Jose Musgove, Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, and Nick Kingham were all doing a good enough job, however now that The Pirates have a decent rotation anchor, their starting pitching looks even better.
Kela was The Rangers closer before The Pirates acquired the hard throwing right hander. In return for Kela, The Rangers received prospect Taylor Hearn. Kela was having a nice season, with a 3.44 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 10.8 K/9 rate, and 3.4 walk rate in 38 and two thirds innings down south. He, like Archer, is affordably controlled through 2021. Hearn was originally acquired by The Pirates in the trade that sent Mark Melancon to The Nationals for Felipe Rivero/Vasquez, and Hearn. Hearn has spent all 104 innings in Altoona Double-A. The 23 year old has been a fairly nice prospect so far, with a 3.55, 3.21 FIP, 9.3 K/9 rate, and 3.3 walk rate. Bullpen was a major concern for The Pirates entering the season, and even into early July. Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, and Felipe Vasquez/Rivero were all doing very well when The Pirates acquired Kela, but had some ups and downs to start the season. Michael Feliz was also struggling for The Pirates before he was optioned to Triple-A. Minor league signee Rich Rodriguez has been having a good season, and for a while was arguably their best bullpen piece. Once Kela joined the bullpen, he’ll join a very good 6th-7th-8th-9th inning bullpen handoff.
The Pirates trades were overall decent. It’s even arguable that they had the best deadline this season. Chris Archer and Keone Kela further solidify a pitching staff that has seen its fair share of struggles through the early part of the season, and still had some questions in July. Even if they do not make a playoff spot this season, the pieces they acquired are controllable for a handful of years, so if they do decent this season, it’s very possible that they could further add throughout the off season.
By: Noah Wright