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July 30, 2015

Transaction Analysis

Cardinals Gather Moss

by R.J. Anderson, Jeff Moore and George Bissell

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired LHP Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals in exchange for OF/1B-L Brandon Moss. [7/30]

An undersized left-hander without much projection, Kaminsky nonetheless does a very nice job using what he has. A former first round pick (2013), Kaminsky was selected that high despite being 5-foot-11 and from New Jersey because of the strength of his curveball, which many scouts say has plus-plus potential. Two years later, however, the pitch has taken a significant step back, grading out now as only an above-average offering.

What Kaminsky offers instead is the potential for three above-average offerings and command of each. He won't miss a ton of bats with his fastball, which he throws in the 88-91 mph range, but he spots it well to all four quadrants and keeps hitters off-balance. On his changeup, he replicates his arm speed well, giving it added deception. Kaminsky has been focused on his fastball/change combination and has used them more frequently at the expense of his curveball, which could explain why it's not as sharp as it once was. The byproduct, however, is a pitcher who has learned how to compete without bat-missing stuff, and Kaminsky does an excellent job of being a pitcher, not just a thrower, which has helped him dominate the lower levels of the minors.

Kaminsky's ceiling has fallen some from what the Cardinals envisioned when they selected him 28th overall, but the fact that his curveball has been better in the past leaves the door open for growth and a return to form. As is, Kaminsky has the arsenal to be a starter and fill out the back of a big-league rotation. –Jeff Moore

Fantasy Impact
Rob Kaminsky
Few organizations in baseball possess the sheer volume of talent in the minor leagues that St. Louis does. It’s a huge benefit for the organization, but not for a prospect like Kaminsky, who has been buried behind some of the other talented arms in the system like Marco Gonzales, Tyler Lyons, and Tim Cooney after being drafted in the first round in 2013.

While the Cardinals have a plethora of young pitchers in the pipeline, the Indians complete lack of depth in the upper minors is striking. Kaminsky, who owns a 2.09 ERA with 79 strikeouts over 17 starts in High-A, should make the jump to Double-A and evolve into a contender for the final spot in the Cleveland rotation by this time next season. The move out of the shadows in St. Louis and into the spotlight in Cleveland is a significant boost to Kaminsky’s long-term fantasy outlook. –George Bissell

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF/1B-L Brandon Moss from the Indians in exchange for LHP Rob Kaminsky. [7/30]

Here you have the Cardinals and Indians making a one-for-one, veteran-for-prospect trade on July 30th involving a player with past medical and present performance concerns. Hm—sounds familiar. John Mozeliak hopes the similarities end there, and not just because it'll stop people from making the obvious, lazy comparison. The Cardinals needed more lineup depth before Matt Holliday left Wednesday's game with a quad injury. Moss' addition means the Cardinals no longer have to rely on Dan Johnson and Mark Reynolds. Yet that doesn't mean the Cardinals are getting a massive upgrade.

While Moss might be preferable to Adam Lind because of his defensive versatility—he could, in theory, move to the outfield if/when Matt Adams returns later in the season—there are some reasons for reservation. Namely, Moss' offensive production has declined with each month, leaving him with below-average marks overall. He doesn't offer much value outside of his bat, either, so if he's not hitting, he's not worth employing. Normally, you might write off Moss' struggles as just a slump, but his past hip issues make you wonder if there's another explanation for his extended cold spell.

Of course this trade has a wrinkle that the Justin Masterson deal did not. Moss has an additional season of team control, which means an improved effort over the remainder of the season could make him a worthwhile trade chit during the winter. But first the Cardinals would like to see him shine in the autumn. If Moss fails to do so, the Cardinals may want to avoid hooking up with the Indians for the hat trick come next July. –R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact
Brandon Moss
It’s easy to see why St. Louis targeted Moss in the wake of Matt Holliday’s quad injury last night. His versatility provides them with an immediate upgrade over Mark Reynolds at first base and gives the Cardinals a left-handed platoon partner for rookie Stephen Piscotty. The big problem is that Moss has struggled to hit righties this year. Despite a sterling .782 OPS for his career against them, Moss has managed just a .647 OPS in 245 plate appearances this season. Sure, 11 of his 15 home runs have come against right-handed pitching, but a .191 batting average leaves much to be desired. He’s gone into a tailspin at the plate recently, slashing .177/.235/.329 with a 31 percent strikeout rate since July 1st, but the move to a better lineup in St. Louis and the likelihood of every-day at-bats give Moss an opportunity to bounce back over the final two months. –George Bissell


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

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