The first deal of the off-season for the Tigers was a big one. I reached out to Nate around the time I reached out to Z before he posted his big block. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to send an offer his way before he unloaded most of his talent on Minnesota. Originally, I sought Martinez, Grandal and Hendricks, but Nate was hesitant to move two big bats in the same deal. As we kept talking, it seemed like we would end up with a deal one way or another. Nate was motivated to move some older pieces and I was looking to add some key players to the 2021 squad. After Grandal, I asked about Edwin Diaz, but the price was too high for me. Then, last night, we talked about the current scenario and when I awoke, we had a deal.
First, the return. The best player in the deal is Martinez. While his 2020 was pretty horrendous, so was 2020 and the fact that the team dealt away the franchise's best player. Martinez also looked lost at the plate -- swinging outside the zone and giving pitchers more to work with. I think it was a lost year and I'm hopeful he'll be back to himself in 2021. That said, he's 33, so it's not like he's here forever. While he's a great hitter, the window for productivity is limited. But he does provide me a clear-cut middle order hitter from the right side that was one of my goals for the offseason.
The second piece is Hendricks. I created Hendricks way back in 2013, when he was just a Dartmouth grad with underwhelming stuff and great command in AA. He has continued to have a stellar MLB career, averaging about 3 wins a season for the Cubs. He just turned 31 two days ago (Happy Birthday and welcome to Detroit), and I think he ends up being one of the better #4 starters in a rotation in our league. On most teams, he's a #2, so if we maintain health, he's going to be quite an asset for the next half decade.
Iglesias was the third piece and a replacement for Diaz in the scenario. He's 30 and turned in a very strong season, albeit only 23 innings. As such, ZiPS rewarded him with a 134 ERA+ projection in Cincinnati, which I imagine will improve once the Angels' projections comes out. He looks like a solid closer in the bullpen this year, set up by the likes of Castillo, Doolittle, Kolarek, Jeffress, and Osuna, if healthy. Because of some uncertainty in my bullpen and injuries that hit hard last year, I wanted to shore it up and I think I have. Andrus was an add-on to provide some SS depth with the loss of Mondesi. He's no longer very good, but if he gets a .268/.320 projection and AV at SS, I'll count it as a win.
And now the losses. I ended up giving Nate six pieces here and a good portion of my farm. We'll start with Mondesi and Wright. I picked them both up in a deal with John last season for veteran pieces that ended up helping John quite a bit. I was thrilled with Mondesi because of his elite speed and defense. He's a great asset, if only he could hit a little better. If he can manage to add 20 points to his average, I think he's elite. But in the absence of that and his high K rate, I think he'll remain a second tier, albeit scary to opponents, SS. Wright is only 25 and had an up and down MLB debut last year, but had some very strong showings toward the end of the season. That's a positive development for him going into 2021.
Luis Garcia is an absolute stud. As a 20-year-old, he hit .276 in the majors. He should be in A ball in the middle of nowhere America, but he was a legitimate starter. The Nats are extremely excited about him and believe he has a maturity akin to Juan Soto did when he was coming up. I think he can easily be a starter at 2B for the next decade or more. While he may need to walk a little more, I think he has the skills to succeed. So, the first three pieces are guys who are already in the majors and ready to play.
The next three pieces are more speculative, but strong. Valera is a teenage corner outfield profile who was #18 on FG's top 100 list coming into 2020. He has a loud swing that produces huge power. The lack of a 2020 season certainly didn't help him, but many project he could end up as a middle order bat. Weathers is a lefty starter and son of MLB reliever David Weathers, except as a lefty. He has a four pitch mix with solid command. Having only pitched up to A ball last year, he threw 1.1 scoreless innings in the MLB playoffs in 2020. What a year. The last piece is DET 1, which is in the late 20s. With a good pick, Nate picks up probably a solid FV 45 player or better.
There's a ton of speculation on Nate's side, but a lot of upside. There's very little upside on my end, but some very solid pieces that, barring injury, end up being very useful pieces for the 2021 squad. I've answered several of my offseason questions in one deal and Nate has jumpstarted his rebuild process. The NL West is very wide open and the AL Central should have a fun competition going.
My 2021 plan is finally complete. I have the Rangers' middle infield combination of Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus. Life is great! I actually tried to get Odor last year from Matt, but was unsuccessful. I've been trying to Daza from Matt (and Nate) for like three years. So, while this is far from a blockbuster, it feels like an accomplishment. Odor is not amazing. In fact, he managed to hit .167 last year, which is impressive in that he got 148 plate appearances hitting that poorly AND that he managed to hit 10 HR in only 148 plate appearances for a .246 ISO. He has 3 30-HR seasons under his belt and he's still 26, so he's clearly talented. He also clearly struggles to hit with any consistency. I don't think he's better than what I already have at 2B, but he's a nice guy to have in the mix to see what happens. Daza is no Mike Trout, but he consistently gets a great ZiPS projection because he hits like a madman. He's been in the minors forever and is also 26, but finally cracked the MLB roster in 2019 after showing some power in the inflated Pacific League, but he didn't play in 2020. ZiPS rewarded him with a .295/.331/.413 projection with +2 defense in CF. Last year, he was VG/VG across the board, so for sim purposes, he's a nice asset.
What Matt gets in return is probably characterized as a roster plug, some upside, and a low-upside gamble. Duffy feels like he's been around forever, but he's only 31. For Matt, he takes up a rotation spot and eats innings. For me, he was a #6 candidate. Chavis is only 25 and hasn't really had a large sample size yet. Everyone knows he's been a power-only guy for a while, but 2020 was a low point. He'll need to gain some confidence and defense to be relevant. I think Odor and Chavis are both headaches in similar ways, but perhaps Chavis has more of an opportunity to improve, while Odor has shown more talent. And finally McCormick got an ok projection on top of being a FV 40 guy for Houston on Fangraphs. He had a strong 2019 in AAA, so he might be a guy who gets some time to play in 2021 with a low ceiling, but high floor due to his bat. Overall, nothing fancy here, but I get some guys I've wanted to get and Matt doesn't lose youth that he's trying to build.
We'll see what Jeffress gets for a projection this year, but in 2020, he had a 123 ERA+ projection and was very good for me as a setup guy. That said, I have a dozen relievers on the roster, so I was looking to move at least one. Jake asked about Jeffress and so I tossed out the offer. Mojica is a guy Jake got from me in the Thor/Arenado deal last August. He hit .351 with 8 HR and 46 RBI in rookie ball in 2019 as a 17-year-old. He's not been heavily hyped, so I can imagine scouts may still be a little timid with the small sample size and without the pre-signing period hype. But, I'm willing to take a gamble that he may just be a pretty good hitter as a 3B in the Pirates' system. I get a minor draft pick bump as well, which I will surely turn into magic. All in all an easy deal that may help us both.
Nimmo was my last big piece of trade block material I was looking to deal this offseason. And it's not because I dislike Nimmo. I'm a big fan. He's an OBP machine who plays CF and is still only 27. I've always thought he had huge potential to be a breakout star and in the shortened 2020, he did a really nice job showing off his power, (.484 slugging) eye (.404 OBP) and ability to make things happen (33 runs in 55 games). With Lindor now coming in to hit behind him, I think Nimmo has a chance to build on his success and have a strong 2021, but there's always the concern for injuries and lost playing time if Springer or another outfielder comes to Queens. The only reason I had him on the block is because I think I'm strong at the position. Lorenzo Cain saved a year of wear and tear and he returns for 2021 with a .276/.344/.383 line, which provides an option to leadoff. Grabbing Yonathan Daza's .295/.331/.413 projection gives me another weapon in CF. I also have the wildcard projection of Jarren Duran at .268/.313/.368. So, while none match Nimmo's .373 OBP projection, I think I have some players who can fill in. Along with Nimmo, I gave up Barria, a waiver pickup, and Rondon, a ZiPS bidding pickup. Neither were likely to see significant time for me and were wildcards. Now for the return.
After my big deal with Nate where I gutted my farm, I was really on the hunt for some young talent and prospects to rebuild my system. I was able to do that with this trade. Nolan Jones is a really fun guy to have. He is a monster lefty who has had another growth spurt as a 22-year-old. ZiPS lists him as a 3B, the position he's played the last few years, but Fangraphs suggests he may be more of a LF/RF due to his size. For this year, at least, he's a 3B with a .232/.329/.429 line with 24 HRs and a 2.3-win projection, roughly equivalent to Nimmo's 2.9-win projection.
Then, I pick up two really nice pieces. Trammell has played for three teams, which isn't ideal, but he's still a very athletic LF/CF who has a ton of projection and speed. In 2019, he was as high as a top 30 prospect in the game, so while it kinda seems like he's been around forever, he's still only 23. At 6'2 215, I think Trammell has a shot to add a little power and turn into a 20/20 threat. The third piece is also a pretty exciting add.
Kyren Paris was drafted in the 2nd round in 2019 out of high school in California who was known for his speed and defense at SS, with a developing bat. It appears he has now added to his profile after a lost 2020 due to a broken hand bone. I really like what I read in Fangraphs:
"He arrived to camp this spring looking absolutely yoked, and he has a chance to hit for some power sooner than I anticipated a year ago. I still consider him a slow-burning prospect with a high ceiling (a leadoff hitting middle infield or center fielder) but it’s possible things will come together sooner than I initially anticipated based on how physical Paris worked to become during the offseason."
I also picked up a draft pick upgrade to give me an extra top 100 draft pick. All in all, I'm losing the best current player, but hopeful that I'm getting a lot of 23 and under talent that will propel me forward into the future.
Traded a duplicative infielder who hasn't played since 2019 for a 19-year-old outfielder who hit .340 in a small sample size in rookie ball. That's it. That's the deal.
I'm going to be completely honest here -- I thought I was dealing for Garrett Richards, not Trevor Richards lol. When Tullar posted his block, I was interested in his second rounder and third rounder. Obviously, he was working on multiple deals, but he did come back with his second round pick and then my choice of Richards or another pitcher or a list of prospects. I preferred Basabe from the list of prospects and liked the idea of a gamble on the Red Sox' newest offseason gamble. Instead, I got a younger pitcher for Tampa Bay who's equally questionable and slots in to the #6/7 spot on the depth chart. So same guy, different name.
Solano has been a really nice surprise the last few years hitting .330 the last two years as a now 33-year-old. ZiPS rewarded him with a .280 average projection, without much power, which makes him a usable sim piece. Yabbour, 17, is a 2019 international signing who throws mid-to-high 90s. I only signed him because of that and he's somehow related to the Acunas. I've read almost nothing about him in more than a year, so I think he's a high risk/reward type.
In return, I picked up another second round pick, which gives me some nice draft depth, as well as The Other Richards and Basabe. Richards, it turns out, has a somewhat usable projection in a pinch. He's 27 and was good in 2019. He's that 1-2 win, 4.25-4.50 ERA type guy who you keep around in case of emergency. Let's hope he never pitches this year in Detroit. Basabe is a fun gamble. Also of the Rays, Fangraphs slapped a 40+ grade on him as a sorta power, swings a lot, defense unsure profile. I'm not sure what kind of profile that is, but he's hit over .300 at all minor league stops so far (just hit low A in 2019). He came over in the Nate Lowe trade, to which FG wrote, "athletically capable of playing all three up-the-middle positions if he becomes more fundamentally sound and consistent." So, there's something to like there and it doesn't hurt to add twitchy athletes to the system.
Tullar got some infield depth and a 19-draftee. I snagged a pick, some SP depth, and a prospect. Fun roll of the dice.
Fun fact: you talk to Jag on a Friday night after he's had several drinks and he's pretty fun to deal with! Who knew? So, clearly he's been looking to move Renfroe for a while and clearly Rolison is a gamble since he pitches for a team with purple jerseys. The talk around the league is that most are pretty bullish on Trammell, too, so we have an island of misfit toys trade here.
Trammell came over as the second piece in the Nimmo to SD deal and while he wasn't my top choice as the second piece, I still like his upside as a 20/20 guy in LF. Now that he's in Seattle, he was an obvious target for Jag. Worst case I think he's a great fourth OF. Best case, he's starting and leading off, but he's probably in between -- starting and batting 7th because he is only hitting .230.
When I saw Renfroe slugging those bombs in Mississippi in college, I knew he'd crush balls when he hit, but it seemed like he was going to struggle to connect often. And here we are with a .290 career OBP. And while he hit a horrendous .156 in 2020, he surprisingly increased his BB percentage and reduced his K rate. That said, the fact that he's now in Fenway helped. I'm assuming he's going to fold into some kind of 3/4 OF, spending a decent amount of time in RF and DH. I could see him getting 400 ABs and he's got a cannon.
Rolison carries some risk, but I don't think much more than Trammell. The scouting reports are generally pretty positive, as he has a four pitch mix with three above average, which reduces his chances of getting shipped to the pen. Being a pitcher in Colorado isn't for the faint of heart, but I'm hopeful he can have enough success to improve his sim and then be useful in a non-Denver sim setting. Given that I have some OF depth, adding a lefty starter who's close was a nice get here.
This was a quick and easy deal that gives me a guy who can play all around the field. And while I had infield depth at the beginning of the offseason, after dealing Duffy and unexpectedly moving Solano, I could have been a little light if injuries piled up. Gallardo is an international signee favorite of mine, but after a year off, it's unclear where that leaves him. Pre-2020 scouting shows that he's a great athlete with repeatable arm action, so we'll see what he can do with some competition. Bote is 27 and while his 2020 wasn't great, his 2019 was good enough to get him an above average projection. At his best, he's a .270s hitter with enough power to start, takes enough walks and has enough versatility to find a place in the lineup. If he gets at least VG power on one side and AV/VG defense at six positions like he did in 2020, he's going to find himself in the lineup.
I reached out to Nick when Kike Hernandez signed with Boston and after I had dealt Solano. I figured Hernandez would work as a replacement for Solano and a homer move. Nick got busy and then I got Bote, so I didn't need Hernandez. But Nick still was interested in picking up an arm, so I tossed out Pepiot for Zamora and here we are.
Zamora is 27 and a lefty RP for the Mets who was good for Jake and I last year in the sim. He was blah in a SSS in 2020, so his projection suffered a little, but he still should be able to log 60 decent innings. With three lefties ahead of him in the pecking order (Kolarek, Doolittle, Loup), Zamora seems expendable. Pepiot was a guy I targeted in last year's draft. A righty out of Butler, he has received some nice writeups at this point. Fangraphs gave him a FV 45+ and a shot of making the top 100 if he can show that his improved velocity can work with his command. BA has him as the Dodgers' #8 prospect with a plus-plus changeup, mid 90s fastball and a developing curve and slider. The reports look positive and I think that's good value for a reliever.