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American League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquire OF-L Matt Joyce from Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for RHP Kevin Jepsen [12/16]

While it’s difficult to say that outfield was a weak spot for the Angels last year—see the man in the middle, and Kole Calhoun’s strong season, and even Collin Cowgill’s tolerable performance as a fourth outfielder—it’s fair to say they lacked enviable depth. No longer, as the acquisition of Matt Joyce not only makes the outfield deeper in case of Josh Hamilton's biannual trips to the disabled list, but also gives Mike Scioscia a strong-side platoon bat to pair with C.J. Cron at designated hitter.

A career .261/.356/.463 hitter against right-handers, Joyce shouldn’t find the expansive outfield and home run-depressing qualities in Anaheim substantially different than those of St. Petersburg and the Trop. The Angels should be careful how often they deploy Joyce in the designated hitter role, as he carries a .218/.324/.366 slash line over 284 plate appearances in that capacity. While that’s not necessarily indicative of his true talent level, it’s worth noting the struggles some players experience at the plate when they’re not in the field.

Joyce isn’t an asset in the field, rating negatively in fielding per FRAA in three of the past four seasons (his one positive season checked in at 0.1) and faring poorly in UZR as well. For all he gives back in the field, he’s rated well as a baserunner over the past few years. His overall slash line might not look flashy, but he’s never posted a TAv below .276. He is exposed by southpaws, with a career .573 OPS against them, but as a strong-side platoon bat—the role he’s been acquired for—he’s well worth his salary. If you asked an Angels fan last May whether this team could afford to send away a valuable bullpen piece for a part-time player, they wouldn’t believe you but thanks to Jerry Dipoto’s maneuvering, the Halos found themselves in a position to cash in a surplus to fill a need. —Craig Goldstein

Fantasy Impact

Matt Joyce

Joyce’s steady walk rate (12 percent) and the Angels’ lineup give him a decent floor for run totals, but his second-half power outage this year should give owners pause (.226/.344/.314). He wasn’t lifting the ball in the second half, as he had a 51 percent groundball rate and a career-worst 7 percent HR/FB rate—resulting in only nine home runs all season (another career worst). Leaving the AL East won’t make it any easier for Joyce to leave the yard—which is why the arrow points down—but he could be an undervalued power source in deeper formats if his second half was merely a blip.

C.J. Cron

There were potentially a lot more at-bats available for Cron—who seemed to be a decent source of power himself—before the Angels traded for Joyce. Now it’s likely he’ll serve as a platoon player. —Nick Shlain

CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Signed RHP Gavin Floyd to one-year contract for $4 million. [12/16]

Already rich in pitching, Cleveland acquired more depth Tuesday, inking Floyd for a base salary of $4 million, with another $6 million attainable through starts-based and innings-based incentives. While there’s not much on the surface separating Floyd from the rest of the back-end rotation candidates in Cleveland, GM Chris Antonetti already announced that Floyd would be guaranteed a spot in the rotation, pushing Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister, and Josh Tomlin into a fight for the fifth spot.

Just because that’s an area of depth doesn’t necessarily imply a trade, though, as Floyd’s recent medical history is enough to leave anyone squeamish. Following Tommy John surgery (as well as a torn flexor tendon) in 2013, Floyd’s most recent effort was cut short after he broke his elbow in June. While he’s thrown quality innings recently, he’s only managed 79 of them over the last two seasons. Floyd keeps hitters off balance with a four-pitch mix (five if you separate the fastball and sinker), and features a curveball that generates plenty of swinging strikes. He’s shown a willingness to rely more and more on the sinker as the years have gone by, though his four-seam fastball still maintains a relative majority when it comes to pitch usage.

Floyd should be able to provide support for the middle of Cleveland’s rotation, and they have the depth to soak up the innings should he miss time or run out of gas. Compared to similar injury-prone signings such as Brandon Morrow and Brett Anderson, the (relative) stability provided by Floyd appears to come at a discount. He’s more expensive than Morrow, but seemingly more likely to pitch, and pitch well. —Craig Goldstein

Fantasy impact

Gavin Floyd

Floyd was in the middle of an exceptional nine-start stretch (2.65 ERA) with Atlanta when an arm fracture ended his season. It was the second year in a row he’d fail to reach double-digit starts. The durability concern is obvious and he hasn’t averaged 92 mph on his fastball in years, but he has a track record of success in the American League and his groundball tendencies should be a good fit in Cleveland.

T.J. House

A potential trendy sleeper pick before the Floyd signing, House will likely be the Indians’ sixth starter now. His 3.35 ERA in 102 innings this year was very helpful as a fill-in starter.

Zach McAllister

Merely a deep-league option prior to the trade, but this move pushes McAllister back even further on the Indians’ starting depth chart. —Nick Shlain

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquire RHP Kevin Jepsen from Los Angeles Angels in exchange for OF-L Matt Joyce [12/16]

Sending off a productive, if not full-time player for a reliever isn’t necessarily the strongest starting point, but the Rays secured two seasons of Jepsen for just the one of Joyce. Throw in the difference in their salaries—Jepsen made $1.4625 million in 2014 and is in his second year of arbitration versus Joyce’s $3.7 million in 2014—and the value at least starts to even out. Factor in the subsequent announcement that Jake McGee underwent arthroscopic surgery on his elbow and will miss the start of the season, and it makes even more sense from a positional standpoint, if not a pure value one.

Jepsen joins Ernesto Frieri in a relatively revamped bullpen for the Rays, who could feature Jeffrey Beliveau and Kirby Yates (both threw under 40 innings for Tampa) in addition to the newcomers. Who fills in at closer is an open question at the moment, but one suspects Grant Balfour, Brad Boxberger, Frieri, and Jepsen could all get cracks at the position, should new manager Kevin Cash avoid the closer-by-committee route. Jepsen found new success in 2014, relying less heavily on his fastball, opting to go to the curveball more often and introducing a changeup. The fastball sits 96 mph and can touch the upper 90s, while the changeup acts as a slower version of the fastball, clocking in the mid-to-upper 80s with minimal depth or fade. While it’s a fringy pitch in a vacuum, Jepsen deployed it effectively, with The Process Report’s Tommy Rancel noting that left-handed batters managed a .176 batting average against the changeup. The curveball is his better off-speed offering, and though it’s not a dominant out pitch, Jepsen has shown the ability to manipulate it based on the situation, and a willingness to drop it in or out of the zone as needed. He’s notched five saves in his career (two last year) but is probably best suited for seventh-inning work. —Craig Goldstein

Fantasy Impact

Kevin Jepsen

Jepsen bounced back from an injured-plagued 2013 to set career bests in games (74), innings (65), strikeouts (75), ERA (2.63), FIP (2.81), and WHIP (1.05) with the Angels this year. He’ll still have value for his strikeouts and ratios with the Rays. —Nick Shlain

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jfranco77
12/17
A righty who gets lefties out with a changeup? Wasn't that Joel Peralta? Guess the Rays really have a type.