February 5, 2016
Tale of the Tape, Dynasty Edition
Rafael Devers vs. Ryan McMahon
Just as Greg Wellemeyer did in looking at two catching prospects and two second-sackers, I’m back to offer an in-depth look at a pair of prospects at the hot corner as a companion to Bret Sayre’s dynasty-oriented look at the position, in the same format as I did in looking at our first-base matchup of Trey Mancini vs. Bobby Bradley. We hope that you’re enjoying the series, as it’s aimed at helping dynasty-league owners in the decision-making process that quite often occurs when trying to differentiate between two prospects, whether it be during draft time or in trade talks.
Today, we take a look at the top two prospects on Bret’s third-base rankings (and two very popular trade targets in dynasty leagues this offseason), the Red Sox' Rafael Devers, who checked in at no. 11 and Rockies farmhand Ryan McMahon, who was ranked at no. 16 by our fearless fantasy overlord.
McMahon owns a lifetime .297 batting average as a professional, with all three of his seasons coming in favorable home hitting environments; first at Rookie-level Grand Junction of the Pioneer League in his draft year of 2013, where he hit .321, and then at Low-A Asheville, where he hit .282 in 552 plate appearances in 2014 before moving on the various bandboxes of the California League in 2015 and hit for a .300 average with Modesto in 556 plate appearances. In Grand Junction and Modesto, McMahon’s BABIP hovered around .400.
Devers was issued a 60 grade for his hit tool by former Prospect Team member Tucker Blair early in the 2015 season, and McMahon was given a 55-grade hit tool by Wilson Karaman in his multiple viewings during Cal League action in 2015.
McMahon hasn’t exactly been a master of patience in his young professional career either, walking in just under 9 percent of his plate appearances in 2015. In 2014, he did walk more than twice as often as Devers did while playing in the South Atlantic League, with the caveat that the Rockies prospect was a year older than Devers while playing at the level.
McMahon is also more of a doubles hitter at this point in his career, although his 18 home runs in the Cal League in 2015 did place him among the top-10 in the league. His 43 doubles were most in the league, and it marked the second consecutive season where McMahon clubbed 18 home runs (in almost the same amount of plate appearances).
Devers’ potential with the bat could be that of a batter who hits for close to a .300 average with a home run total in the neighborhood of 35 and plies his trade in the middle of a productive Red Sox order in a ballpark (and division) that is conducive to his power. McMahon’s upside is likely more of a .280-ish hitter with 20-25 home runs, a better play in OBP leagues who sees his runs-scored and RBI totals boosted by his home ballpark. While Devers’ walk-rate was a concern in 2015, McMahon’s strikeout rate of 27.5 percent in High-A ball could portend trouble as he faces more advanced pitching at Double-A Hartford in 2016. If it creeps up too much further north, his lifetime OBP of .372 will almost certainly come down.
Estimated Time of Impact
While I certainly acknowledge the possibility that the Rockies could offer Arenado a large contract extension and keep him after his team control expires after the 2019 season, I believe that trading Arenado prior to his free agency (and sooner than later for that matter) represents Colorado’s best chance to import the quality pitching needed to once again be relevant in a very competitive National League West. It’s obviously very hard to decipher what the Rockies' plans are--in both the short and long-term--but I haven’t gotten the impression that the Rockies ownership has been thrilled with the large contracts that were given out to players like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez over the years, and even franchise icon Todd Helton to an extent, and they may not want to put themselves in the same position with Arenado, who isn’t likely to sign for anything that resembles a hometown discount with Scott Boras as his agent.
A trade of Arenado is viewed as an unlikely proposition as of now, but by the time McMahon is ready, it could be viewed as a likelier scenario, and I think that should be accounted for when discussing McMahon’s dynasty value, just as a possible move to another position in order to accommodate Arenado currently is. If McMahon ends up being the one traded for pitching help, I still feel that he can be a top-10 option at the position, even without the Coors Effect(™).