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August 28, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Pirates Get Patch

by R.J. Anderson and Jason Parks

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-L Quintin Berry for RHP Clayton Mortensen. [8/27]

Last season Berry, then a 27-year-old rookie, found himself in the Tigers lineup as they advanced to the World Series. His improbable big-league run has since paused, leaving him in his third organization this year while in search of his first plate appearance. Because Berry is no longer on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox—already facing a roster crunch—would need to make a move to get him on board. If Boston does add Berry, it's because of his speed. He went 21-for-21 on stolen-base attempts last season for Detroit, and having a designated pinch-runner on the postseason roster, or at least September's expanded roster, makes sense. Alternatively, Berry could be little more than a replacement for some Triple-A outfielder about to get promoted. - R.J. Anderson

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Clayton Mortensen from the Red Sox for OF-L Quintin Berry. [8/27]

Mortensen is best used as an up-and-down reliever; an arm capable of pitching 15-to-20 innings in a season in case of emergency, but otherwise left on the farm where he can't mess things up. True to form, the Red Sox designated Mortensen for assignment after a mid-June appearance, in which he was tentative with his fastball. One figures Kansas City might use Mortensen in September. - R.J. Anderson

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired INF-R Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later from the Pirates for OF-R Marlon Byrd, C-R John Buck, and cash. [8/27]

Identified as an “On the Rise" prospect last year on BP’s Pirates Top Ten list, Dilson Herrera has lived up to the hype, holding his own at the full-season level as a 19-year-old. Signed as a shortstop out of Colombia in 2010, Herrera has spent the majority of his professional career at either the hot corner or the keystone, profiling better at second because of limitations in range, arm, and glove. The bat will be his carrying tool, as the right-hander has good bat-to-ball ability and pop that's better than his size would foretell; some scouts see plus power potential in the stick.

He has seen his struggles in the Sally League, showing the ability to square velocity but struggling with off-speed offerings--especially against arm-side pitching—and expanding his zone, combining for a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. While certainly not overmatched by the advanced level, Herrera is unlikely to be a fast riser in the Mets system, despite the opportunities that might exist at the highest level. Simply put, Herrera is a good prospect but not a game-changing prospect, and his developmental journey still has a long way to go. At the end of the day, Herrera profiles as a hit-tool second baseman, perhaps ending up as a solid-average regular at the major-league level. Because of his left-side weaknesses, utility isn’t an ideal option should the bat fail to carry the value load at second. - Jason Parks

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-R Marlon Byrd, C-R John Buck, and cash from the Mets for INF-R Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. [8/27]

The Pirates, in pushing for the division crown, add two veterans to cover for injuries.

With Starling Marte on the mend, Clint Hurdle has used Jose Tabata in left and Andrew Lambo in right field in recent games. Byrd figures to become the everyday right fielder until, and perhaps after, Marte returns. The soon-to-to-be 36-year-old is having a career season, a year after it seemed his career might be over. Though the Mets took heat for not trading Byrd earlier, and cashing him in before he went splat, it's worth noting he's hit even better in the second half.

Of course sustainability remains a question. While it's fair to wonder how much the Pirates can rely upon Byrd, the truth is they don't need much from him to have acquired an upgrade. Collectively, Pittsburgh's right fielders have hit .232/.297/.369 this season; Byrd, over his injury- and suspension-shortened 2011-2012 seasons, hit .260/.305/.358. So as unlikely as a continued surge might seem, Byrd needn't do anything extreme in order to justify his spot in the lineup.

Ditto for Buck, who replaces Tony Sanchez as the Pirates' backup catcher. Michael McKenry's sprained knee opened the door for this acquisition, and though it's not a stunning improvement, it makes sense. Buck's hot April aside, his .243 True Average falls in line with his career .246 mark. His offensive value is derived from some walks and a league-average amount of pop. Defensively, Buck isn't much of a receiver, yet he has thwarted a better-than-average clip of attempted basestealers. The Pirates have a solid first option already in Russell Martin; Buck's just along for the ride in case something goes wrong. - R.J. Anderson

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

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