The Blue Jays and Athletics agreed to a very strange trade on Friday as Toronto traded relief pitcher Liam Hendriks to Oakland for starting pitcher Jesse Chavez. I kind of like Oakland’s part of this trade as they are getting a player that is under team control at a team-friendly price through at least 2020. Hendriks used to be a starting pitcher, but last year he became a full-time relief pitcher with Toronto and he performed well with a 5-0 record and a 2.92 ERA. He is only 26 years old, so the potential for him to be a reliable reliever is very promising. Hendriks will never be a late-inning guy, although he is useful as a middle relief pitcher and he can fill in at the starting rotation as needed. The only concern that I have for him is that he has only been a relief pitcher for a year and he was horrible as a starting pitcher, so I don’t know exactly how much consistency that Hendriks can provide the Athletics. Meanwhile, Toronto’s part of the deal doesn’t seem to be very good as they are getting a player that has a career record of 24-38 and a 4.55 ERA. It is hard to find a role for Chavez on Toronto’s pitching staff, although I see him fitting in the bullpen better. I don’t particularly see why the Blue Jays want Chavez because he is 32 years old and he will be a free agent after the 2o16 season. Also, Chavez has played for Toronto before and he had a miserable 8.44 ERA in 9 games mostly coming out of the bullpen. This is a trade that doesn’t make sense for the Blue Jays especially since they are giving up a pitcher who has a sky-high potential.
Athletics Grade: B-
Analysis: Hendriks has lots of potential and he finally had some success as a reliever, but it is unknown if he can have that same type of success with the Athletics.
Blue Jays Grade: D
Analysis: Chavez is 32 years old and it isn’t clear what the Blue Jays will exactly do with Chavez.
Cliff Pennington has a new team as he agreed to a 2-year/$4 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. Pennington definitely won’t be a starter for the Angels, but he will surely be valuable as a veteran infielder that can fill in at multiple positions. He will likely be the backup at shortstop to the newly acquired Andrelton Simmons. Pennington will never wow you with his offensive production as he is only a career hitter and he has never hit more than 8 home runs in a season. However, he is a tremendous utility player since he has proven that he can fill-in at shortstop as well as 2nd base. This isn’t a deal that really makes a huge difference for the Angels, but he is decent as a role player.
In 2014, the Los Angeles Angels had the best record in the MLB at 98-64, but this year they won’t even be participating in the playoffs as they fell just short after a 9-2 loss to their AL West rival Texas Rangers. The Astros also lost on Sunday to the Diamondbacks, but the Angels didn’t take advantage of securing the final AL Wild card spot. Los Angeles finishes 85-77 in 2015 and now they will have decisions to make this offseason about how to better their team around Mike Trout. I don’t expect the AL West to be a very good division in 2016, so there could be another opportunity for the Angels to make the playoffs again.
The San Diego Padres came into the 2015 MLB season as a team with high expectations after acquiring players like Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields, Craig Kimbrel, and Wil Myers this offseason. Yet, the Padres really underachieved this season by securing a 74-88 record with a loss to the Dodgers on Sunday. The main reason that I consider the Padres to be the most disappointing MLB team is because of how much money they are paying those players and yet they didn’t provide very good results. Now, San Diego will have to find a new manager after firing Bud Black midseason and the team will be stuck with big contracts for a few years and very few talented prospects left in their minor league system. Things didn’t quite work out for the Padres this year, but if they find the right manager then maybe things will turn around for them.
The Oakland Athletics have decided to traded relief pitcher Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets for minor league pitching prospect Casey Meisner. What I like about this trade for the Mets is that it provides them with a guy that can be a reliable setup man in the 8th inning or the closer in the 9th inning. New York has a decent bullpen already, but they are relying upon unproven players like Sean Gilmartin, Carlos Torres, and Hansel Robles to perform in high-pressure situations. Clippard brings a reliever that has experience in the NL East division and he is one of the most reliable players in tough situations. Clippard has a 2.79 ERA with 17 saves for Oakland this season and he automatically brings some more stability to a Mets bullpen that will need that especially in the race for the postseason. Meanwhile, Oakland is once again planning for the future by getting 20-year old starting pitcher Casey Meisner from the Mets minor league system. Meisner is still in High-A and he is really raw, but he was the Mets’ 15th best prospect so he does have really good potential. He has been impressive in the minor leagues so far and to get him for Clippard could turn out to be a really good deal in the future.
Mets grade: B+ – With the unproven relievers in the Mets bullpen they needed some more stability which is what they received with Tyler Clippard. He likely will fill the Closer’s role for New York and he is an immediate help to the bullpen to try and help the Mets get into the playoffs. It might have been too much to give up by trading Meisner to the Mets, but I guess that is the price that New York had to pay to acquire a proven closer like Clippard.
Athletics grade: A+ – Clippard was good for Oakland this season, but Billy Beane made the right move by getting rid of him while has value was still high. Oakland received a really good prospect compared to what they thought they would get for Clippard. Meisner is a little bit raw, but the Athletics really have nothing to lose by acquiring a guy that has tremendous potential to be an impact player at the MLB level.
Shane Victorino’s time in Boston is over as the Red Sox traded him along with cash considerations to the Los Angeles Angels for 2nd basemen Josh Rutledge. Victorino hasn’t been productive the past two seasons with the Red Sox as has started to decline with age. The Angels have been desperate for some outfield production and they have had injuries in that area that they’ve had to address recently, but they are really rolling the dice on an aging player like Victorino. He has struggled this year with the Red Sox as he is hitting .245 with only 1 home run so far, but maybe the change of scenery in Los Angeles will make him a more productive player. I think this is a really risky deal for the Angels because of his history of injuries, yet Rutledge wasn’t making an impact for the Angels at the MLB level for the Angels anyway. Meanwhile, Rutledge probably has more of a future with the Red Sox as he is only 26 years old, although he is just likely to give some versatility to the team while Dustin Pedroia is on the DL. Rutledge can play a few positions in the infield and he can probably be used by the Red Sox as a utility player at best. It will be interesting to see how or if he is productive at the MLB level considering that he never got a taste of the MLB level with the Angels this season. The Red Sox needed to get rid of Victorino at some point anyway, so why not get a player that can at least help out at the MLB level when injuries occur. This trade is decent for the Red Sox and it is one of those deals that you won’t really know how good it is until Rutledge gets an opportunity for some playing time.
Angels grade: C- – The Angels desperately needed some help in the outfield because of inconsistent production and injuries which is why they acquired Victorino. However, Victorino is just a 34 year old washed out outfielder that hasn’t been productive with the Red Sox the past 2 years anyway. Maybe a change of scenery will help Victorino, but this is a risky trade for the Angels to make.
Red Sox grade: C+ – Boston needed to get rid of Shane Victorino at some point to make room for some of their younger talent in the outfield, but since they waited so long to trade him then his value went down. Josh Rutledge is nothing more of a fill-in for the Red Sox in the infield and even though is a young player he still doesn’t have much of a future with Boston. Rutledge is just more of a depth piece and he is just an unknown player at this point and we’ll see how well he does with the Red Sox.
It isn’t much of a surprise, but the Reds have traded star starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in exchange for 3 left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed. Cueto is a free agent after the season and it was clear that Cincinnati probably wasn’t going to be able to re-sign him, so now he essentially becomes a rental player for the Royals. Kansas City has struggled pitching wise this season and they expected young pitcher Yordano Ventura to be the ace of their rotation, but he has struggled this year as he is 4-7 with a 4.86 ERA. Also, Jason Vargas is out for the season with a torn UCL which has thinned the Royals starting rotation out even more. Cueto is coming off a terrific start against the Rockies on Saturday and he will give Kansas City a consistent pitcher to try and make a deep playoff run this season. The Royals already have enough hitting and they probably have the best bullpen in the MLB right now and now that they have Cueto it will really make their team nearly complete. I’d still like to see the Royals go out and get another one or two starting pitchers, yet it’s unknown whether they can pull off another trade. Meanwhile, it is a good trade for the Reds because they are getting 3 players that don’t need much more development and they are almost pretty good major league ready players. Brandon Finnegan has already had success at the MLB level as he is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA this season. I think he’ll have a good opportunity to get more playing time with Cincinnati and he will help improve a struggling Reds bullpen right away. John Lamb has a lot of potential as well and he was considered one of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball. Lamb was a 5th round pick in 2008, so it is highly likely that he is ready to at least make his debut for the Reds really soon. Cody Reed is probably the furthest away from all 3 players from getting to the MLB level, but he has been impressive in the Royals minor league system this season in Double-A as he has a 2.53 ERA. This is a terrific trade for the future for Cincinnati and they got some pretty good prospects in return for Cueto which will help speed up the rebuilding process.
Royals Grade: A- – The Royals were desperate for starting pitching and getting a consistent all-star caliber pitcher like Johnny Cueto will help a lot to make them a complete team. It does hurt to give up some talented prospects especially John Lamb, but that is the price that a team has to pay to get a great pitcher like Cueto. The Royals probably didn’t have much of a use for Lamb and Finnegan anyway. Cueto is only a rental player for the Royals which is why this trade doesn’t get a better grade.
Reds Grade: A – Cincinnati knew they weren’t going to re-sign Cueto and as hard as it was to trade him away it was the right move for the Reds. The Reds aren’t going to the playoffs this season, so it would have been a waste to keep Cueto on the roster and then lose him in free agency. I really like how they are getting some major league ready prospects in return that can help the team right way especially Brandon Finnegan who can help in the bullpen. I would’ve liked to see Cincinnati get some more variety in the trade instead of all left-handed pitchers, but it was still a good trade for them either way.