It was first reported at 6:25pm on Tuesday by Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi that the Tigers and Diamondbacks were close to a deal involving star right fielder J.D. Martinez. Shortly after, it became known that the Tigers were receiving three infield prospects in return: Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara, and Jose King. Now, the second NL Wild Card spot belongs to the Diamondbacks, who have bolstered their already impressive lineup, sporting a three-headed monster of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, third baseman Jake Lamb, and the aforementioned Martinez. Martinez was arguably the best rental bat on the market and was surprisingly cheap to acquire.
None of the three prospects heading to Detroit are listed in the Top 100 Prospects lists of MLB.com, Fangraphs, or Baseball America. As a matter of fact, heading into the season, Minor League Ball had the Diamondbacks listed as the number 29 farm system in all of Major League Baseball. This was due to Arizona trading the number one overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Dansby Swanson, to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Shelby Miller. Along with Swanson, the D-Backs sent outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitcher Aaron Blair.
To show what the D-Backs lost, Inciarte was named to the NL All-Star team this year and won a Gold Glove award for Atlanta last year. Blair, on the other hand, was…not good in his rookie season last year. He went 2-7 with a 7.59 ERA in 15 starts for the Braves, before being sent down to AAA Gwinnett, where he still finds himself. Swanson was called up in August of last year and set the baseball world on fire, dazzling with the glove and compiling a slash line of .302/.361/.442 in just 38 games. However, he has come back down to earth this year, batting just .220/.297/.321.
Shelby Miller was just plain bad last year. In 20 starts in the desert in 2016, he went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 1.673 WHIP. ERA+ is a stat that adjusts to the players’ ballparks, with 100 being the league average.
Miller’s ERA+ in 2016 was 72.
Now, enough about Arizona’s terrible farm system and onto this trade. The Diamondbacks gave up three middle of the pack infield prospects for an All-Star outfielder. How? Martinez missed the start of the season due to a sprained ligament in his foot, and yet he was the Tigers leader in home runs (16), batting average (.305), slugging percentage (.630), and OPS (1.018) and he played in just 57 of 92 games. He joins a Diamondbacks outfield that had a combined WAR of 2.4. Martinez had a WAR of 1.7, alone. Scouting reports on Lugo and Alcantara from MLB.com show that they are viewed as borderline MLB players, as a utility role is probably their ceiling. To show how highly touted Jose King is as a prospect, I can’t find a single scouting report on him, whatsoever. Tigers GM Al Avila gave up his All-Star right fielder for three prospects that may never be more than bench players in the majors. That’s really something to think about. Seriously, he gave up one of his best players for pretty much nothing.
As I mentioned before, Arizona is getting a huge bat to their already impressive line-up. Martinez gives the D-Backs an immediate upgrade from the, how do I put this nicely, disappointing Yasmany Tomas, who is currently on the 10 day DL. The Cuban defector has been “alright” at-best for Arizona, providing them with a -2.3 WAR over three big league seasons. OPS+, like ERA+, takes into account players’ ballpark factors. The league average is 100, just like for ERA+. Tomas’ career OPS+ is 98, showing he is rated as a slightly below-average player. Not to mention, he has a glove made of stone in the field. He has a career fielding percentage of .973 and a dWAR of -5.1. He has cost the Diamondbacks five games because of his glove over three years. Considering the fact that WAR values a player against a replacement player, Tomas is well below-average here as well.
To be fair, we’ll compare Martinez over the last three seasons with Tomas. Martinez has a WAR of 8.6 over that time period, and OPS+ of 145, a fielding percentage of .982 and a dWAR of -3.7. While not a great defender, he is still an upgrade from Tomas in the field, and he more than makes up for his defensive shortcomings with his bat. Once again, he joins a stacked Diamondbacks lineup consisting of Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury and Chris Owings (who are both enjoying career years), A.J. Pollock and David Peralta. Peralta likely shifts to left field while Martinez will be plugged in in right field.
I love this deal for the Diamondbacks. They gained a very good hitter and gave up next to nothing for him. You truly can’t ask for anything more.
Offense aside, the pitching staff has been bolstered by a bounceback season from team Ace Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.86 ERA), while All-Star Robbie Ray (9-4, 2.97 ERA), Taijuan Walker (6-4, 3.61 ERA), and Zack Godley (3-4, 3.09 ERA) have been very effective. The only question mark as the Diamondbacks work towards a playoff push would be the bullpen. Closer Fernando Rodney has 20 saves this season, but he also has a 5.58 ERA and a WHIP of 1.337. An upgrade from him could prove to be helpful as the season goes on.
The second big trade that occurred on Tuesday night involved the Yankees acquiring third baseman Todd Frazier, and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfield prospect Blake Rutherford (the number 30 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com), outfield prospect Tito Polo, pitching prospect Ian Clarkin, and reliever Tyler Clippard. I mentioned Frazier as a possible trade option for the Yankees last month.
While I’m not a huge fan of Frazier, he offers the Yankees more power at the hot corner than they have received from Chase Headley this year. This season, Frazier has a slash line of .206/.329/.431, while Headley has a slash line of .257/.339/.368. That .206 batting average certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but the power numbers are there. Frazier currently sits at 16 HRs and 44 RBI, compared to Headley’s 4 HRs and 37 RBI. Most impressive, though, are Frazier’s numbers outside of Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field. Let’s compare his road stats from 2016-2017 with Nolan Arenado, arguably the best offensive third baseman in baseball:
Frazier: .849 OPS, 35 HRs, 84 RBI
Arenado: .848 OPS, 26 HRs, 80 RBI
The Bronx Bombers will take that production any day as they have struggled recently (they’re in a miserable 10-21 stretch).
A big part of that slip was due to the bullpen’s woes, with Tyler Clippard’s struggles this season being a major factor. Clippard, once a two-time All-Star in Washington, enjoyed a career renaissance with the Yankees last summer, pitching to a 2.49 ERA in 29 games following a mid-season trade to New York. This season, however, he has not been the same pitcher. He has accumulated a 4.95 ERA in 40 appearances. Simply, he became a liability and the Yankees, tight in a wild card and division race, needed an upgrade.
An upgrade is exactly what they got, reuniting with former set-up man David Robertson and one-time Yankees prospect Tommy Kahnle. Robertson was in the middle of his best season as a South Sider, sporting a 2.70 ERA with 13 saves and 47 K’s in 33.1 innings of work. Kahnle is enjoying a breakout season, as he has a 2.43 ERA with 62 K’s in just 37 innings of work. Did I mention these two are also controllable? Robertson is under contract through next season, and Kahnle is under contract through 2020. That is a major boost to the ‘pen as the Yankees continue their youth movement and try to chase a pennant over the next few years. The Yankees pretty much need their starters to give them five quality innings before turning it over to some combination of Kahnle-Betances-Robertson-Chapman to close out the game. Think about that. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Glad to have you back! That’s a pretty scary combo, right?!
Looking at what the Yankees gave up for a rental third baseman and two controllable, high quality relievers, it’s less than you’d expect. Blake Rutherford, the Yankees first round pick in 2016, and the number 30 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com, is the main player going to Chicago in this deal. He became expendable, though, as he doesn’t project to be up until probably 2020, still in A-Ball. Ahead of him in the organizational depth chart would be Clint Frazier, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and the injured Dustin Fowler, not to mention Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. Though, the latter duos future roles with the organization remains unknown as the Yankees move toward getting younger and lowering the team payroll. With all of that talent in front of him, Rutherford didn’t really have a major role on the team in the near future. If Fowler can come back from his knee injury and and play quality center field at the big league level, then this losing Rutherford won’t hurt for the Yankees, assuming Robertson and Kahnle can keep it up with the Yanks.
The second prospect in this deal is Ian Clarkin. Clarkin, now the number 18 prospect in the White Sox organization, has been solid at High-A Tampa this year, pitching to a 2.62 ERA and a 4-5 record in 15 games (14 starts). His ceiling seems to be as a mid-rotation starter. The Yankees are loaded with young pitching prospects (they have four pitchers in their top ten prospects, 14 in their top 30), so this made Clarkin expendable, as well. Tito Polo, an outfield prospect, was the third prospect in this trade. He’s viewed as a possible fourth outfielder at the big league level, so that in-and-of itself is not a huge loss. Clippard, as I mentioned, struggled mightily this season, so including him in the deal helped the Yankees, if anything.
I really don’t mind this deal for the Yankees. The idea of losing a prospect the caliber Rutherford may hurt now, but with the addition of two very good relievers (giving the Yankees what I believe to be the best bullpen in the American League) as they continue to build toward a postseason run this year, and in the immediate future, I believe there is a lot to like about this. Reports also indicate that the Yankees are interested in acquiring a controllable starting pitcher (namely Sonny Gray), as well as an upgrade at first base, so they may not be done dealing just yet.
By: Chris Perkowski