Acquired LHP Gabriel Moya from Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for C-R John Ryan Murphy. [7/27]
As expected, the return for a light-hitting catcher with merely backup potential is pretty light, but Moya is not without intrigue. A smallish lefty at six foot and 180 pounds, Moya sits comfortably in the 88-92 mph range and some reports have seen him bump 93 on occasion this summer. His delivery has serious deception and makes his fastball appear as though it’s a tick harder than reality. For everything his well-located fastball can provide, Moya’s changeup is the real story. A plus secondary pitch that some scouts are even higher on, he can generate swings and misses as well as frequent soft contact with it.
Moya will mix a curveball and slider in during his outings, but neither approaches the quality of his changeup, or even his fastball. A reliever through and through, Moya could be a quality high-leverage lefty if his fastball-changeup combination plays as well against big-league hitters as it has in the minors. This season he's got a 0.82 ERA and 68/12 K/BB ratio in 44 innings at Double-A, and his career strikeout rate is 11.5 per nine innings. A more realistic outlook profiles Moya as a second lefty/middle reliever where the deception and changeup are good but not great carrying features against MLB hitters. —Mark Anderson
Acquired C-R John Ryan Murphy from Minnesota Twins in exchange for LHP Gabriel Moya. [7/27]
Two offseasons ago the Twins traded Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for Murphy, who had played sparingly as a backup in New York. Handed a bigger role in Minnesota at age 25, he flopped, getting demoted to Triple-A a month into last season after a 3-for-40 stumble out of the gates. Aside from a September call-up, Murphy has been stuck at Triple-A since then and the Twins' new front office regime never seemed interested in giving him another chance, signing Jason Castro to a three-year, $24.5 million deal as a free agent and bringing in veteran Chris Gimenez as his backup.
It's easy to see why the Twins saw him as expendable—beyond the pain of constantly reminding them of the Hicks giveaway—as Murphy has hit just .238/.283/.337 in the majors and .244/.305/.368 in parts of four seasons at Triple-A, including .222/.298/.330 in 59 games there this year. However, his pitch-framing numbers likely made the Diamondbacks take notice. Murphy has led all Triple-A catchers in Framing Runs this season (+18.1 runs) and last season (+19.5 runs), which is probably enough to make him a viable major-league backup even if he never improves offensively. —Aaron Gleeman
Acquired RHP Pat Neshek from Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for INF-R Jose Gomez, RHP J.D. Hammer, and RHP Alejandro Requena. [7/26]
With the chasmic gap in the NL Wild Card standings beginning to close, the Rockies shored up their bullpen by trading three minor leaguers for side-arming righty Pat Neshek. The Rockies sit one game behind the Wild Card-leading Diamondbacks, and the Cubs and Brewers have found themselves in a heat in the Central, so the pressure was on Colorado to make a move. Luckily for them, they made a good one, at little expense.
Neshek has found another gear this season, ratcheting up his strikeout rate while suppressing walks at a remarkable level. He’s allowed only five free passes this year for a career-best 3.4 percent walk rate, while striking out 30.4 percent of hitters, his best mark since his rookie season many moons ago. As a sidearmer, Neshek’s batted-ball profile is a little extreme: he’s been unusually consistent in allowing 30-35 percent grounders, while inducing almost twice as many popups as the league average. Ultimately, Neshek is good at keeping hitters off balance with his unique arm action, with hitters finding less hard contact than against most other pitchers. Neshek also sports a home run rate well below the ballooning league average. The result of all this good mojo is a sterling 1.12 ERA, and a 3.56 DRA that’s his best since 2014 with the Cardinals.
As far as “stuff” goes, Neshek has exhibited a consistency similar to that of his batted-ball profile. His velocities are in line with past few years—91 mph on his fastball, 84 on his slider, and the upper 60s on his lefty-exclusive changeup—so his success this year has stemmed from better command. Unlike most righties, Neshek doesn’t pound low and away to same-handed hitters, choosing instead to stay thigh-high and away, likely a function of his arm angle. This season, Neshek has successfully concentrated his pitches in that zone, and he’s inducing about five percentage points more whiffs per swing on his slider than he did last year. If he can keep his two primary offerings in that zone, he has a good chance of continuing his good fortune, even at Coors Field.
The Rockies have struggled to find quality innings out of most of their ‘pen this season beyond Greg Holland and Jake McGee, so Neshek addresses a pressing need for the Wild Card-chasing club. Lately, the bullpen has been even worse, contributing to an 11-18 record in their last 29 games. Catching the Diamondbacks and staving off the Brewers and Cubs won’t be easy, but Neshek is a step in the right direction for the hopeful Rockies. —Zack Moser
Acquired INF-R Jose Gomez, RHP J.D. Hammer, and RHP Alejandro Requena from Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHP Pat Neshek. [7/26]
At just 20 years old, Gomez has had a very productive 2017 season for Colorado’s Low-A affiliate. He’s made the adjustment to a new level in quick order, batting .324 in 81 games for Asheville. Gomez has an efficient and compact stroke that's able to get to pitches quickly with solid plate coverage. The infielder flashes the ability to hit to all fields and should be able to make a decent amount of solid contact at maturity. However, due to his smaller frame, standing just 5-foot-11 and weighing 175 pounds, Gomez won’t be able to hit a ton of balls over the fence. He has a very linear swing path that could play for average gap power, but the lack of leverage in his stroke will keep his launch angles lower and balls in the stadium for the most part.
As a shortstop, Gomez can hold his own at the lower levels. He’s steady with the glove and shows solid fundamentals fielding ground balls. But if he were to play every day, his average arm and unspectacular range would work better at second base. Gomez could make things work at shortstop as a versatile bench option, but he just doesn’t have the above-average athleticism to be a major league-caliber player at such a premium defensive position. Gomez projects as an above-average utility man who has the ceiling of a potential starter as a contact-oriented second baseman. —Greg Goldstein
Purchased the contract of OF-L Andrew Stevenson from Triple-A Syracuse. [7/23]
The Nationals needed an extra outfielder with Chris Heisey’s groin issues, and Stevenson fits the bill as a useful bench piece who can help a team in the playoff picture. The Nats' second-round pick out of LSU in 2015, his speed and glove are already major league-ready. The bat is a bit more of a question, as he scuffled some at Triple-A after making short work of the Eastern League. I was impressed with him in an April look, and while the likely outcome is fourth outfielder due to a lack of pop in the profile, there might be enough singles and hustle doubles in the bat to eventually make him an everyday center fielder for a team not quite as good as the 2017 Nationals. For now though, he's an ideal bench piece. —Jeffrey Paternostro