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August 26, 2013

Transaction Analysis

DeJesus, and the Prodigal Son, in Tampa

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired C-R Kurt Suzuki from the Nationals for RHP Dakota Bacus. [8/23]

Finding a reliable catcher is tough, so the A's had their hands full trying to find two. Stephen Vogt has stepped in for John Jaso (concussion) and now it's Suzuki's job to replace Derek Norris (fractured toe)—some symmetry, since Norris replaced Suzuki when the A's traded him to the Nationals. Suzuki, somehow only 29, doesn't offer much offensively, and grades poorly as a receiver. But he does know Oakland's staff and is credited with good leadership and blocking skills. Hardly an ideal package, yet for the cost of Bacus—whom Zach Mortimer covered here—the A's probably couldn't do better.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-L David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations. [8/23]

Designated OF-R Jason Bourgeois for assignment. [8/23]

Signed DH-R Delmon Young to a minor-league deal; assigned him to Double-A Montgomery [8/22]

With September days away, the Rays add more depth. DeJesus, who was covered earlier in the week when he was traded to Washington, is the top newcomer. The Rays could send Luke Scott on a rehab assignment this week, but once he returns Joe Maddon will pick between Scott, DeJesus, and Kelly Johnson to start against right-handed pitchers. Each has his merits, and should come in handy for a Tampa Bay squad with a loaded September schedule. DeJesus has a $6.5 million club option for next season, though Andrew Friedman—a long-time admirer—seems unlikely to exercise.

If DeJesus is a white whale in Friedman's book, then Young must be a pink elephant. Friedman's decision to trade Young, in November 2007, yielded results that obscure the original risk. Consider the reaction if a non-competitive team traded a young, well-regarded outfielder with middle-of-the-order potential for a good-not-great starter, an all-glove middle infielder, and a reliever. Oh, right. There are enough differences to make the comparison bunk, of course, but Friedman was not guaranteed to win his bet. Now, nearly six years later, Friedman is gambling on Young again. This time the risk is on Young and no one else. If he fails to fit as a platoon DH the Rays can move on without hesitation. Such an outcome would pause, if not end, Young's big-league career. Let's see if Friedman can win again.

ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Freddy Garcia from the Orioles for cash considerations. [8/23]

Acquired INF-S Elliot Johnson off waivers from the Royals. [8/21]

The Braves, like the Rays, are collecting depth in August's final days. Garcia pitched in 11games with the Orioles, compiling miserable numbers, but has otherwise spent the year in Triple-A. That's okay with Frank Wren, who knows Brandon Beachy is likely out for the season. The Braves' sizable division lead affords them giving September innings to Garcia, thereby allowing Fredi Gonzalez to rest his top arms for the postseason. It's an enviable position.

Less enviable is the Braves' middle-infield situation, which has seen Tyler Pastornicky and Dan Uggla join Ramiro Pena on the disabled list. Wren signed Tyler Greene last week, then grabbed Johnson off release waivers. Johnson, the third Atlanta player with the surname, is a second baseman who can't hit. Those don't last long in the majors, though his job is likely safe for the time being.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Neil Ramirez from the Rangers to complete the Matt Garza trade. [8/23]

Ramirez's inclusion in the Garza trade was rumored from the start. The 24-year-old is finally on the move, and it's understandable why the Cubs were interested despite some injury concerns. Just read Jason Cole's June report on the big right-hander, in which Ramirez's fastball is described as "dominant." Ramirez also "[mixes] in an average-or-better change and slider with the occasional curveball," according to Cole, but might wind up in the bullpen due to his injury and command woes.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka. [8/22]

The mind has a tendency to wander during Matsuzaka's starts, only to jolt to attention at the sound of good wood. Even so, it's hard to fault the Mets for adding Matsuzaka to the rotation. He pitched decently for the Indians' Triple-A squad, and it's not as though he's taking anyone's spot. If someone has to start the games then why not use a no-strings-attached vet rather than rushing a kid? As easy as it is to say that, forgive any Mets fan who memorized the Triple-A rotation's schedule after—or, perhaps, during—Dice-K's first start.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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