Two Guys Talkin’ Trades with Justin Verno and Joe Boyd – The Bullpen 6-21-21

Justin Verno- So far, Joe and I have tackled the values for Adam Frazier, Rich Rodriguez, Jacob Stallings (a touchy subject, evidently), Tyler Anderson and Trevor Cahill. Next up? The bull pen guys. I have nothing to back this next statement up, Joe, but I imagine if I crunched the numbers over the years it’d show that bullpen arms are the bulk of the trades at the deadline.

Joe Boyd – Yup, I think it’s a safe bet to see one, if not all, of these players in a different uniform on August 1.  In theory, the market should be most saturated with bullpen arms so the price is much lower to acquire an additional piece for your bullpen.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, teams that may be ascending but are not quite in their window may want to add a player but not give up the proverbial farm.  In that case, a Pirates bullpen arm could definitely look enticing. Add on top of that, the top arms that could potentially be available all have more than 1-year of control.

JV- The Bucs will have no shortage of names here. Chris Stratton, Geoff Hartleib, Sam Howard, Kyle Crick, Austin Davis, Chasen Shreve, even Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault could be names we hear if healthy and have a few good innings. Does Cherington get over aggressive and listen when it comes to Holmes or Bednar? I don’t think moving Bednar makes sense, though Holmes is an interesting thought–his three years of control could have value.  How far will Cherington go here?

In the last article Joe and I decided to split the bull pen into two groups: more likely to be moved less likely to be moved. In this episode we will concentrate on the more likely to be moved: Kyle Crick, Sam Howard and Chris Stratton. 

JB — I’ll break down Stratton first. Not for any other reason than he’s a personal favorite of mine. I love his versatility and his spin rates. I thought he’d be a nice diamond in the rough pick up a few years ago. He has never broken out to the level that I had anticipated/expected, but maybe that is why he was a waiver wire claim. Nonetheless, he may be a piece that was picked up for free, performed relatively well in comparison to expectation and is used to get a piece for the future. Stratton still has 2 arbitration years ahead of him, so it is not necessary to move him now, but he could be a piece that a team could target, especially for his statcast numbers. 
So using our typical inputs: Fangraphs WAR, ZiPS projections for the remaining controllable years, and our TPOP arbitration estimates, I get the following surplus value for Stratton:

Moving on to Kyle Crick, and he’s a tough one to pin down.  I think I might be pretty bearish on Crick, but looking at his BABIP (.125) and how much lower his ERA (2.04) and FIP (4.00) are compared to expectation (3.64 and 5.78, respectively), I can’t help but expect some regression through the season.  For this exercise, I’m going to leave his projection static and have him account for 0.0 WAR throughout the season.

Crick is the first negative value player that has shown up on one of these conversations (we aren’t doing a Polanco trade piece!), and there are a few points that I want to quickly make.  First, that Salary is not what the spreadsheet spits out, rather that is a modest arbitration bump each year.  In fact, Crick’s arb estimate falls below the $0.62M threshold for a minimum salary.  In theory, that means he has the chance of being non-tendered.  So if you thought that Crick’s salary was crippling, you could add him to a deal that would lessen your return but also get his salary off your books.  I don’t think Crick is to that point, but a trade for anything may be the target here if non-tendering him in the offseason is inevitable.  Since his salary is so low, however, they could look to keep him and try to fix his issues.  My guess?  The latter. 
And now we get to the final, and “biggest” fish, Sam Howard.  Howard may be a bit wild with the walks, but these statcast numbers are pretty impressive.  Add to that Howard is a southpaw under team control for 5(!) years, and you may have a piece that can return some value. Let’s take a look:

I find it interesting that ZiPS seems to buy into Howard considering he has only produced -0.1 WAR over his 72 appearances in the big leagues.  I am sure teams will look at those underlying numbers and see the value in him, but I’m also not exactly comfortable putting this high of a price tag on Howard.  However, since he is under team control for quite some time, a suitor would have to pony up to pry him loose.  

Is that enough of a breakdown on these values, Justin?  Let’s see what you’ve got for some trade packages for these guys.  

JV — It is. A few things from my end. 

  1. Crick is a guy I can see teams like the Marlins or Royals taking a chance on. Shame that “international slot money” is no longer on the trade buffet because that would sound right to me. 
  2. Stratton is another guy I think “metric” driven teams will look at. 
  3. I couldn’t agree more with Howard. The attraction teams will have here is LH, always a bonus at the deadline!

JB — Trade Partner — Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are in a tight race in the AL East. They are currently 8.5 games back for the division, but only 3.5 games out of the wild card. Their young offense, lead by Vlad Jr., has been mashing and their prize free agent acquisition, George Springer, is set to start his AAA rehab assignment to give the team an additional offensive boost. 

As a team that is on the cusp of its contention window, now would be a good time to make a move to bolster the bullpen, but not necessarily go over the top and mortgage that promising future. Not to mention, Cherington and AGM Steve Sanders came over from Toronto, so they may have some additional information on the prospects that could be available.

Stratton for Adam Kloffenstein — RHP — ETA: 2023 — 40 FV ($1.0M)

This is a scenario where Toronto essentially throws in the towel on Kloffenstein.  He’s a former overslot 3rd round selection in Cherington’s penultimate season with the Blue Jays.  He’s a monster, standing 6’5 and weighing in at 243 pounds with a bulldog mentality.  However, the velos do not match the profile and Longenhagen at FG projects him to be a middle reliever or a groundball inducing #4 starter.  Adding a pitcher like Kloffenstein would be a strong piece for Pittsburgh in that he could provide depth/insurance for the young guns that are progressing through the system or he could add value as a future reliever.  

Howard for 

Rikelvin De Castro — SS — ETA: 2024 — 40+ FV ($4.0M) & 

Dasan Brown — CF — ETA: 2024 — 40 FV ($2.0M)

Looking at the Blue Jays bullpen, they only really have one lefty, Tim Mayza, so adding Howard might be a better bang for their buck, but as mentioned earlier, the deal has to be too good to pass up.  In this deal, the Pirates get a slick defensive shortstop and another athletic center fielder to add to the mix. 

De Castro is athletic and smooth on the diamond, but so young and small that he needs time to develop at the plate.  Fangraphs notes that he has the proper mechanical base for his swing, but needs to add weight, like 20-30 pounds!  His ability with the glove could develop him into a Stephen Alamais type, glove-first shortstop. 

Brown is another teenager to throw into the farm.  He’s graded out as an 80 runner, meaning that he has elite speed.  He could be a special defender, but that will have to carry his bat.  His hit and power tools are both below average.  There’s an opportunity for him to develop into an 8th spot in-the-order, defensive stud in centerfield. 

JV-As I look at Crick and Stratton, I think of going back to teams that weren’t expected to compete this year.–the Giants, Boston or maybe the Reds? When Joe and I started this, the Royals and Marlins fit this description, showing how quickly the trade market can change. 

  Other teams would be teams that have spent a lot to get into the race–low key pick up that doesn’t blow up the farm. The Mets, Phillies and Padres?

Trade partner-Boston Red Sox

For Kyle Crick-

Albert Feliz–LF–ETA:2023–FV 35+(under 1 million)

Albert is another power. At 6’2” and 220 lbs., this guy is a behemoth and with that comes power. If he can turn that raw swing into something more consistent and repeatable, (he also needs to improve his pitch recognition) there’s certainly some bust here but there’s also some boom. 

For Chris Stratton

Blaze Jordan–1B–ETA:2021–FV 40(2M)

Jordan became famous for hitting bombs in his early teens, hitting balls out of MLB parks, and for a long time seemed to be a first overall type pick. This kid packs a lot of power, but per Fangraphs, he has a downward swing that will likely be reworked a little for the ever popular “launch angle.”  3B, LF and 1B are possible here, and he’s an obvious DH candidate. Prying Baze off Bloom’s hands here could be a tough ask, but go for Ben!

For Howard I’m switching to the Braves.

Trade partner-Atlanta Braves

Kyle Wright–MLB–

This package will be a bit of overpay, but Howard is controllable and LH, so a little of an overpay is okay. Wright was once a top prospect who just has seemed to put it together in the majors. In 68 innings he has accumulated a slash line of-

ERA 6.09  FIP 6.37   ERA+ 79

This is a gamble and a kid who could use a change in scenery. Does Cherington get his “Glasnow” here? Wright isn’t a FA until 2026, so this could work.

Bryce Ball–1B–ETA:2022–FV 40+(4 million)

I wanted to look at Langeliers or Michael Harris here, but I think that’s too much, being I put Wright in front. I get his value is down, but there’s A LOT to work with there. However, with Wright being a reclamation project, Cherington seeks a good second piece here. Ball is another big bat over field guy–he’ll never win a gold glove and will likely hit in the DH once it gets done permanently in the NL. He has a little Mason Martin in him in that he has a good walk rate, and similar hit tool. If the Bucs can land Ball here and get both guys to keep the K rate down (Ball has seen his K rate spike) that’d be huge.

Parting Shots

JV- I don’t think Joe nor I had a prospect above an FV of 40+ and I get that it’s hard to get excited for guys like that. SO, I again turn to the Bucs system.

-Kyle Wright could be in the mold of Ty Glasnow.

-Some 40+ Pirates prospects: Maikol Escotto, Jared Jones and Mason Martin.

-Some 40 Pirates prospects: David Bednar, Blake Cinderlind and Shalin Polanco.

-Some 35+ Pirates prospects: Po-Yu Chen,  Alexander Mojica and Luis Tejada.

There’s a lot of value in that area!

JB — Love the comps to Pirates here.  These trades are often for players that are lower on the other team’s prospects lists, but sometimes they turn into Oneil Cruz.  That’s not to say/expect that this will happen, but I’m personally very high on a guy like Escotto (He’s my darkhorse to be the top prize of the Taillon trade!), Polanco, and Mojica.  So adding these “lower level” prospects is not always a fool’s errand.  A change of scenery is not just for flailing former top prospects.  It can also benefit lower level prospects that need a different style of player dev to unlock their true potential.  Adding pieces that have a shot to explode in the future by trading guys that won’t be around for the next window of contention is what we’re looking for the Pirates to do here.  

Justin, we’re creeping towards the deadline and we’ve hit on the main players that could be moved.  We split up the bullpen to likely trade fodder and unlikely.  Would you say that next round is to break down those “unlikely” to move bullpen pieces? Or do you have any other thoughts?

JV-I think the “unlikely to be moved” bullpen guys have to be next. After that, though, I think we need to take a look at two guys. One I can see being moved is Colin Moran. The other? Well, we’re gonna have a lot of people coming at us, but I think we have to at least break down Bryan Reynolds. His name is out there too much to at least not take a look at the value. In the end I don’t know how much sense it makes to move him and that would be both for Ben Cheington and any GM that is considering a trade for Reynolds. We would not be particularly thorough if we didn’t address that situation. 

JB — I’ve seen some trades that throw Reynolds in, and that’s at respected sites like the Athletic.  I think it’d be a good idea to just show how valuable Reynolds actually is so when we see his name bandied about in deals, we can get a grasp on how realistic those deals could even be.  My hypothesis is that Reynolds’ value will be prohibitive for most clubs.  So what’re your thoughts on Bryan ‘skipping the line’ a bit?

JV-Reynolds it is!

5 thoughts on “Two Guys Talkin’ Trades with Justin Verno and Joe Boyd – The Bullpen 6-21-21

  1. Thanks for the insight, as always! With the deadline so close, I probably would’ve erred on the side of breadth, going with the unlikely guys and maybe combining Reynolds and Moran. But this shakes out fine too.

    Is it too much to presume you guys will offer thoughts on the trades when they actually occur? Can’t recall whether you’ve mentioned that in prior discussions.


  2. Zak,
    Joe and I talked about that but with so much “buzz” out there on Reynolds we thought we’d get that out of that way first! Reynolds will likely be a bigger chore due to looking at the idea of extending him vs trading him.
    We will be giving updates to any player connected to a specific team and we will be diving in after any and all trades and the value they received.
    Thanks for the feedback and giving it a read.


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