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IN THIS ISSUE

American League

National League

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Acquired OF-L Ben Revere from the Phillies in exchange for RHPs Alberto Tirado and Jimmy Cordero. [7/31]

It might sound insane that the Blue Jays, sporting an already-improved version of the league-best offense they had a week ago, would add another bat at the deadline. It isn’t. Toronto has used the following players in left field this season (their PA as a left fielder is listed, as a proxy for playing time):

According to Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Average, only four teams have gotten worse total production, at the plate, in the field and on the bases, from their left fielders. PECOTA projected the Jays to get 0.8 WARP out of the position between now and the end of the season. Among AL teams, only the Astros and Mariners had worse positional outlooks there.

Ben Revere changes that. He’s not well-understood or fully appreciated in every circle, largely because of his skill set. The more we understand about baseball, the more we tend to value walks and power and positional value. Revere doesn’t offer any of those. He’s drawn only 32 walks in over 1,000 plate appearances since the start of last season, and his three home runs over that span are three more than he hit in his previous 1,400 career PA.

He also never strikes out, though. He’s fanned only 85 times since the start of last season (again, in over 1,000 trips to the plate). He puts the ball in play, he keeps it on the ground (of 265 hitters with at least 200 PA this year, Revere owns the 10th-highest ground-ball rate), and he posts consistently high BABIPs (.322 for his career, and no lower than .325 since 2012).

It’s really hard to put minuscule power and an extremely low walk total together and get even an average offensive player out of it, and indeed, Revere is only about average. In a vacuum, he’s not the kind of player a team wants to stick in left field. Toronto is no vacuum, though: with league-best offense at shortstop and third base, and another good stick at catcher, the team can handle a little less thump in the traditional power spots. Revere’s weak arm eventually made him untenable in center field, but in left, he’s a defensive asset. He’s also, and this part you know, a major contributor on the bases.

There are some signs of genuine offensive development, too. Revere is a little less wispy than he once was, and while he’s never going to crack 10 dingers in a season, he’s already racked up 20 extra-base hits this year—two off the career high he set last season, in 238 fewer plate appearances. He’s also walking more (or really, is back on the horse after a stunningly bad 2.1-percent walk rate last season), but not striking out at an unusual rate. At 27, he might be finding just enough extra at the margins to keep himself a productive regular into his 30s, the way Juan Pierre did.

This might be one of the sneakier deals of the week. The Jays get a prototypical second leadoff hitter for the ninth slot in their order, at a defensive position where they had nothing of note anyway. It’s a bigger bump than one might expect, which is why the price was a bit higher than most probably thought Revere to be worth. That was true in terms of the talent changing hands, and it will be true in terms of the money the Jays now owe Revere. He’s making $4.1 million this year as a second-year arbitration-eligible player, a Super Two (though the Phillies are helping offset some of that). He’s not going to get any cheaper next year, especially with his high average, big stolen-base numbers and real improvement this season.

This isn’t a rental, but it might effectively become one, because it wouldn’t be a surprise if Toronto traded Revere right away this winter, sparing themselves that expense. The Phillies helping Toronto pay for him this season might be a nod in that direction. Even so, this is a great pick-up for the stretch run, and if the budget allows it, it could even be a nice (if not shiny and sexy) long-term addition for the Jays.

Fantasy Impact

Ben Revere

While Revere looks like a one-trick pony, his strong batted-ball skills make him decent enough in batting average and runs to provide sneaky mixed league value. The move to Toronto’s high-powered lineup gives Revere a big boost in runs scored while the turf could also turn some high choppers in the infield into cheap base hits. The AL also gives Revere a few more RBI opportunities since he won’t be batting in front of a pitcher. An added bonus for Revere is that the Phillies were inexplicably sitting him at times so that they could see if Cody Asche and Jeff Francoeur had a chance to be part of the next great Phillies team. Revere should play every day in Toronto, and the anticipated boost in playing time adds even more to his overall value.

Ezequiel Carrera, Danny Valencia
Both Carrera and Valencia were AL-only plays at best, but with the addition of Revere both hitters lose what little playing time they were going to garner. It’s possible that Valencia spells Revere on occasion against tougher right-handers, but the value both players had in AL-only moves from fifth outfielder to marginal.

Dalton Pompey
Given his minor league performance after his demotion, it didn’t seem likely that Pompey was going to be back in Toronto in 2015 but this trade all but cements it. Don’t count Pompey out in keeper formats, but you can drop him in deeper mixed redraft leagues if you haven’t done so already.- Mike Gianella

CHICAGO CUBS
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Acquired RHP Dan Haren from the Marlins in exchange for RHP Ivan Pineyro and SS-R Elliot Soto. [7/31]

With thoughts of Tyson Ross or Carlos Carrasco dancing in their heads, Cubs fans may not be as excited to see Dan Haren being added to Chicago's rotation. But the fact is for the remaining two months of the season, Haren is exactly what the team needs when it comes to the starting staff.

After Travis Wood proved ineffective in a starter's role earlier in the year (although lately he's been a favorite of Joe Maddon's out of the pen as a much-needed long man), Tsuyoshi Wada took over in the fifth spot. He had his moments, but with 31 1/3 innings in seven starts, his short outings were taxing on a bullpen that's quickly become overused. Wada eventually went to the DL with a deltoid issue with both Dallas Beeler and Clayton Richard taking turns manning the final spot in a Cubs rotation that's been stellar outside of the fifth man.

No matter who has taken that spot in the rotation, the result has ultimately been the same: not enough innings are being eaten, let alone quality inning being thrown. A solid, but at times rocky, bullpen then gets overworked, eventually hurting the Cubs not only in that game, but in many to follow as the overuse lingers, often leading to unsteady 'pen performances.

With Haren's arrival, that is one concern that should slightly he assuaged. Haren is averaging over six innings a start, of which he's made 21. The Cubs can depend on him to be ready to take the bump and not force Maddon to have Wood start warming up in the early goings of the game. Haren isn't the dominant force who was a top of the rotation arm a half decade ago, only striking out 16.8 percent of the batters he's faced this season. His 3.42 ERA is more than acceptable though (and his 4.04 DRA is perfectly fine as well), and he won't be handing out many free passes, with a 4.8 percent walk rate.

This isn't the sexy deal many Cubs fans for pining for, but it costs very little, stabilizes the fifth spot, and should help the bullpen stay fresh for the stretch run. -Sahadev Sharma

Fantasy Impact

Dan Haren

The most unlikely star for baseball’s adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go,” the 35-year-old’s fantasy stock takes a considerable hit as he is forced to take his talents from South Beach, where he posted a 3.42 ERA over 21 starts, to the Windy City. Haren has allowed more home runs (21) than all but six qualified starters this season, so his relocation from one of the more underrated pitchers parks in the game (Marlins Park) to the launching pad that is Wrigley Field, is likely to have a disastrous effect on his rate stats (ERA and WHIP) over the final two months.

Clearly, he’s no longer a strikeout artist (6.14 K/9), he doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, and the ballpark is a recipe for disaster, but never underestimate veteran savvy during a pennant race. It isn’t time to bail on Haren completely in re-draft leagues, but fantasy owners are going to have to be more selective about his usage going forward.

Travis Wood/Tsuyoshi Wada

The veteran acquisition effectively slams the door on Wada’s potential return to the rotation. He remains sidelined with a shoulder injury and has struggled during a rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa and can be safely dropped in all re-draft leagues. Wood has excelled as a reliever and the Cubs would like to keep him in that role, which was likely the driving force behind the Haren trade. The odds of Wood ever getting another shot in the Cubs rotation are slim, as he has officially entered into Justin Grimm (failed starter) territory. –George Bissell

MIAMI MARLINS
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Acquired RHP Ivan Pineyro and SS-R Elliot Soto from the Cubs in exchange for RHP Dan Haren. [7/31]

Pineyro could be described as a poor man's Haren—the current version, not the one from four or five years ago. His fastball is only average, generally sitting 89-91 mph with the occasional 92- or 93-mph reading when he reaches back for more, but plays up due to its sink and (usually) good location. Pineyro's best secondary offering is his changeup, which features no difference in arm speed from his fastball; he has enough confidence and command over the cambio to throw it inside the zone for a strike, as well as outside the zone as a chase pitch. Yet because his breaking ball is only a 40 or 45 offering, Pineyro is looking at a ceiling of a no. 5 starter, with a career as a swingman serving as a fallback option.

Soto has three home runs in 1,887 career plate appearances, which should give you an idea of his limited offensive firepower. His calling cards are his solid approach at the plate and his heady defense up-the-middle. Though he has enough athleticism to play shortstop, his lacking arm strength could necessitate a move to second base. With a below-average hit tool and grade-20 power, you're looking at a best-case scenario of an extra infielder. – Christopher Crawford

***

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Acquired RHPs Alberto Tirado and Jimmy Cordero from the Blue Jays in exchange for OF-L Ben Revere. [7/31]

Dealing Cole Hamels for a package highlighted by two really solid position players gave the Phillies the freedom to fall in with the parade of deals in which sellers are stockpiling live arms and amassing huge farm-system pitching depth. Tirado was tenth on our preseason Top-10 prospect list for the Jays, and now he’s the sixth of them to either graduate into the Majors or be included in this wild trade spree.

Ruben Amaro is, as it turns out, good at selling, and with each deal, he looks a little less foolish for having held out before doing so. – Matt Trueblood

***

In order to pull Ben Revere north of the border, the Blue Jays parted with two pitchers capable of hitting triple digits. Cordero has found success and struggle at Double-A this summer, lighting up radar guns with fastballs in the 96-101 mph range nearly every time out. He generates that velocity with effort in the delivery, and as a result he has difficulty consistently finding the strike zone. When he’s in the zone, Cordero’s heater has enough life to miss bats, particularly if he works toward the edges rather than the center of the zone. At his best, Cordero is close enough to the zone to induce swings, and he can keep people from timing the fastball with a solid slider. With continued progress throwing strikes, Cordero could fit in the seventh inning of a big league bullpen.

Tirado remains a level behind Cordero, but at just 20-years old, he may have a higher ceiling. Though he can struggle to consistently find the strike zone as well, Tirado’s fastball has similar velocity to Cordero and some scouts that I have spoken with believe he generates more impressive life, making his heater more difficult to barrel when it is in and around the zone. Where Tirado really separates himself from Cordero is with the quality of his slider, a pitch scouts easily peg as a future plus pitch with some willing to venture even further up the 20-80 scouting scale. With a near-elite fastball and at least a plus breaking ball, Tirado just needs to find additional consistency to profile as a shutdown late inning reliever. – Mark Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Odubel Herrera, Cody Asche
Both Herrera and Asche were splitting time with Revere in Philly in center field and left field, so in the short term both players should get a chance at regular at bats as the Phillies attempt to play out the string in 2015. Herrera’s speed potential makes him the more intriguing play in fantasy, but Asche maintains third base eligibility from 2014 and does have 12-14 home run potential over the course of a full season as a regular. They are both still desperation adds in deeper mixed formats, but if you own either player in NL-only, you’re a “winner”, I suppose.

Jordan Danks
He is the Phillies immediate replacement for Revere, starting for the team in center field. He goes from being a mid-level player in your International League fantasy team to a guy you pick up in NL-only if you have a lot of injuries and probably aren’t going to win your league anyway. I cannot believe I am writing a fantasy blurb in the year 2015 about Jordan Danks.

Aaron Altherr
Altherr was probably going to see Philadelphia in September, but the Revere trade cracks the door open for him to perhaps make it up in August. The outfield prospect has a solid 12-HR/14-SB line across 411 plate appearances in Double-A and Triple-A and is a worthy stash in NL-only and deeper mixed formats with deep reserve lists.

This is the saddest post-trade fantasy team blurb I have ever had to write. – Mike Gianella


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jpatridge
8/01
Great headline.
tmangell
8/01
As a long-time (30 year) REM fan, I totally agree.
hotstatrat
8/03
Won't Colabello now be sharing the 1B/DH spot that isn't Encarnacion with Smoak and Navarro - such that they'd all be losing some of those at bats? (I know Valencia & Carrerra were the usual left-fielders last week, but as evidenced from your list - it has been in constant flex with Colabello getting the plurality of at bats from there.)