2015-2016 Offseason MLB Trade Reviews

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

Athletics acquire OF Chris Coghlan
Cubs acquire RHP Aaron Brooks

With the Dexter Fowler signing imminent, the Cubs traded away Chris Coghlan, who was slotted to be a fifth outfielder at best. Aaron Brooks isn’t much of a return, but pitching depth is more valuable to them at the moment than in the field.

The A’s are now overflowing with outfield options. After adding Khris Davis a few weeks back, they also have Josh Reddick, the team’s leader in WAR last season, and speedster Billy Burns, with veteran Coco Crisp and Superman Sam Fuld likely on the bench with Coghlan. Coghlan also have some (not much) experience in the infield, so seeing him as a flexible utility guy with a little work isn’t too hard to comprehend.

Orioles acquire RHP Odrisamer Despaigne
Padres acquire RHP Jean Cosme

Odrisamer Despaigne’s 2015  wasn’t particularly inspiring, but he did have a good rookie season in 2014 and fills a need for Baltimore, while Jean Cosme isn’t ready to contribute in the majors. Long term, Cosme will probably be the better value, but for now, Despaigne will be the major league contributor.

Rays acquire OF Corey Dickerson, 3rd Kevin Padlo
Rockies acquire LHP Jake McGee, RHP German Marquez

It’s a trade between the Rockies and the Rays, so without even looking at the details I”m going to guess the Rays win this trade. But it’s actually a tough trade to judge right now. I generally value position players a lot more that pitchers, especially relief pitchers, but Jake McGee is coming of two great seasons, while Dickerson was injured for the majority of last season and who knows if he’ll ever be what he was again in 2014. Also, after signing Gerardo Para to the outfield for a pretty good price, the Rockies had extra outfielders, and have prospects on the way.

McGee is a great pitcher, and instantly becomes the Rockies best arm, even after Adam Ottavino comes off the DL mid season. I’m not sure, however, McGee’s stuff will play in Colorado, and his sub-three ERA from the last 2 seasons could soar to the high threes.

I really liked Dickerson in Colorado, but he definitely comes with injury risk and uncertainty about how his offensive game will translate in Tampa (his road splits have been much lower than his home numbers since 2014). I do feel like they sold low on him overall, since out of their outfield he probably had the highest upside, and could have used a few months of showing he was back to full strength to maximize his value.

Mariners acquire RHP Joe Wieland
Dodgers acquire INF Erick Mejia

A minor move for both clubs, but the Dodgers have been stockpiling starting pitching, and Weiland wasn’t in their plans for this season.

Nationals acquire OF Ben Revere
Blue Jays acquire RHP Drew Storen

After betraying Drew Storen’s trust last season, the Nats had to trade him away, and Revere is a nice replacement for Denard Span offensively, although team is blocking Michael Taylor in the outfield with the move. For the Blue Jays, Storen will help make their bullpen really sturdy, if he can get back to the form he was in the first half of 2015.

Yankees acquire LHP Aroldis Chapman
Reds acquire 3rd Eric Jagielo, 2nd Tony Renda, RHP Rookie Davis, RHP Caleb Cotham

If I’m going to ignore the elephant in the room and analyze this strictly as a baseball move, adding Aroldis Chapman to a Yankees bullpen that already had Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances if just unfair, and the team didn’t give up any high upside prospects to do it. Their pen will be made up of arguably three of the best five relievers in baseball. The move shortens games for their starters (whoever they wind up being), gives them flexibility to play matchups late in games without really giving up any production and to rest guys for a day or two when needed, and gives the team security if one of the three gets injured for an extended time. Last season, as great as Betances was as the closer, the Yankees slumped for the month Miller missed with injury because that’s what the team relied on to get them wins, and adding one more elite are helps limit that risk. So looking at this in terms of baseball, the Yankees are a much better team after the trade.

But you can’t entirely ignore the fact that Chapman is being accused of domestic violence, and may have choked his girlfriend while shooting a gun. Asking fans, teammates and the media to overlook that because Chapman is a great player is asking a lot. Also, while MLB hasn’t ruled anything yet, if what we know now is what we know when the season starts, he will undoubtedly miss time for a suspension.

How long remains to be scene. Something around 45 games or less won’t really hurt the team on the field too much, and if it’s for an entire year the Yankees would be able to hold on to Chapman for 2017, which limits their long-term risk. The worst case would be about 100 games or so, because at that point the acquisition doesn’t really help much for this season and Chapman would become a free agent after the year.

White Sox acquire 3B Todd Frazier
Dodgers acquire OF Trayce Thompson, INF Micah Johnson, RHP Frankie Montas
Reds acquire INF Jose Peraza, INF Brandon Dixon, OF Scott Schebler

It made perfect sense for the Reds to trade Frazier at the peak of his value, and he’s a very good player. The White Sox, who had a clear need at third base, now have one of the games five or six best on offense and defense. And the Dodgers come out of this with good value, even though it’s hard to figure out how they even got involved with these trade talks to begin with.

Mets acquire 2B Neil Walker
Pirates acquire LHP Jon Niese

Both teams filled a hole by trading depth. The Pirates have Josh Harrison who could play in Walkers spot, while Niese was relegated to the bullpen last year once the Mets top pitching prospects were called up to the bigs. For the Mets, Walker can do a lot of the same things Murphy could on offense, and is a much better defensive player.

Astros acquire RHP Ken Giles
Phillies acquire RHP Vincent Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Mark Appel, RHP Harold Arauz, RHP Thomas Eshelman

If there’s one thing a bad team doesn’t need, it’s a closer, and in the Phillies case, they had one that was young, cheap, and returned a lot of value.

The Astros wanted a closer last offseason, and Giles should be able to fill that role admirably. They bullpen was solid, but they didn’t have a guy they could have 100 percent confidence in every night. Now, they do.

White Sox acquire INF Brett Lawrie
Athletics acquire LHP Zach Erwin, RHP J.B. Wendelken

The Brett Lawrie experiment might go down as Billy Bean’s worst move. Lawrie didn’t show any improvements at the plate last year, while Josh Donaldson won the MVP. Now they’re getting two young pitchers that aren’t really considered top prospects.

Lawrie can fill in at second or third base for the White Sox, both of which were vacant. He isn’t a game changer, but’s better than nothing.

Tigers acquire LHP Justin Wilson
Yankees acquire RHP Luis Cessa , RHP Chad Green

The Yankees seem totally fine depleting their bullpen, while the Tigers are doing everything they can to assure theirs will not be a problem. I think the Yankees are getting more value in the swap, but it isn’t value they can count on right away.

Yankees acquire 2nd/SS Starlin Castro
Cubs acquire RHP Adam Warren, PTBN

Can’t really blame the Cubs for preferring Ben Zobrist over Castro. Castro is significantly younger, but considering the middle infield depth they already had, Zobrist’s versatility defensively and his ability to get on base is the right choice, at least short term.

I did think Castro would have a higher asking price however. What this really amounts to is a salary dump. Adam Warren is a fine relief pitcher and will help Chicago’s pen, but ignoring salary, the talent level isn’t even for both sides.

The Yankees apparently don’t trust Rob Refsnyder at all, and have been doing everything over the last calendar to put someone ahead of him. The signed Stephen Drew last offseason to block him at second, and then traded for the underwhelming Dustin Ackley when they couldn’t take Drew’s sub-.200 average any longer. Now, after a brief chance at the end of last season, Refsnyder again has an established player slotted ahead of him. Castro is the better player,and will make the team better if he can handle being a Yankee. I just feel bad for Refsnyder, who I was excited to see have a bigger role this year but will probably be traded now.

Diamondbacks acquire RHP Shelby Miller
Braves acquire OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Blair and SS Dansby Swanson

The Braves have once again pillaged Arizona’s farm system, and now own the DBacks last three first-round picks. Miller is a only 25, is under team control for three more seasons, and is coming off his best season so far as a pro, but I don’t think he’s worth close to the haul Arizona gave up to get him.

Arizona did have a surplus of talent in the outfield, but I think losing Inciarte will probably hurt a lot more than most would assume. Using Yasmani Tomas in the field instead hinders their defense greatly. Also, while having Miller undoubtedly makes their rotation better, he isn’t particularly overpowering and I feel like last season’s low ERA was more of a fluke than the norm.

As for the Braves, they keep on dealing, their farm system continues to improve, and their 25-man roster slowly sinks into the deepest depths of the ocean. This move fits right into the other’s they’ve been making lately.

Cardinals acquire INF Jed Gyorko
Padres acquire OF Jon Jay

The point of this move for San Diego is getting Wil Myres out of center field. Jay may be limited offensively, but he’s a hell of a defender. On the other side, I don’t really see the Cardinals end game here. Gyorko is a pretty limited player and is blocked on the roster at his natural positions. The Cards are also a little thin in the outfield now that Jay and Heyward are gone.

Mariners acquire LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jonathan Aro
Red Sox acquire RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias

I don’t know about you, but I think the Red Sox got the two better players in this one. Smith is easily the best chip on the table, and with him joining Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara in Boston’s bullpen, it gives them one of the strongest late-inning units in baseball. I always found Miley over rated, so unless Seattle sees something special in him, I don’t really follow the trade for them.

Indians acquire Collin Cowgill

Cowgill was traded from the Angels for cash consideration. Cowgill’s strong outfield defense probably convinced the Indians he was worth a chance, especially with Michael Brantley potentially missing time early in the year.

Rays acquire Hank Conger

Conger was traded from the Astros for cash. The Rays really have no catchers that can do anything offensively, so this is a start, especially against righties.

Orioles acquire Francisco Pena

Traded from the Royals for cash consideration, but teams made transactions involving catchers earlier, so it makes sense the Royals had a surplus and the Orioles could use one.

Orioles acquire OF Mark Trumbo, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser
Mariners acquire C Steve Clevenger

Trumbo gets traded again. The Orioles will use him to fill the gap left by Chris Davis, but it’ll take a lot more than Trumbo, who’s all power and not much else, to match that production. It was wise for the Mariners to get something for him, and Clevenger, while nothing special, has to be better than Mike Zunino and Chris Iannetta offensively.

Royals acquire C Tony Cruz
Cardinals acquire INF Jose Martinez

I think this trade says more about the Cardinals than Royals. Cruz had been given playing time when Molina has been hurt, so for them to move on means they haven’t been too impressed.
Cubs acquire LHP Rex Brothers
Rockies acquire LHP Wander Cabrera

We’re only two-years removed from thinking Brothers was an elite late inning guy, and the closer of the future in Colorado. It didn’t work out that way, but Maddon has a good track record of taking talented but struggling relievers and making them good again.

Orioles acquire OF L.J. Hoes

Traded for cash, the Astros didn’t need the outfielder anymore.

Athletics acquire INF Jed Lowrie
Astros acquire RHP Brendan McCurry

Lowrie played will in Oakland before signing with the Astros last season, so he’ll be welcomed back with open arms. The Astros didn’t need him anymore now that their young infielders have proven themselves in the bigs.
Blue Jays acquire RHP Jesse Chaves
Athletics acquire RHP Liam Hendriks

An interesting move here. Hendriks was a surprisingly effective relief pitcher for the Jays last season, and should be in the pen for the A’s. Chaves has been a surprisingly useful starter and long reliever for the last two seasons. Both were surplus for the teams they were on, and fill a slight need for their new squads. Makes sense to me.

Cubs acquire RHP Spencer Patton
Rangers acquire INF Frandy De La Rosa

Two teams swapping surplus as far as I can tell. Neither guy is expected to make a huge impact.

Tigers acquire OF Cameron Maybin
Braves aquire LHP Ian Krol, LHP Gabe Speier

Maybin’s skill has never been questioned, it’s his health that’s been the issue historically. Maybin is coming off one of his better years, and as part of a platoon with Anthony Gose, he should be able to stay fresher. Maybin also has a club option for 2017, so if things work out this season they can bring him back for cheap.

Both of the pitchers the Braves received in the trade have a bit of potential and value, but chances are the team was more excited about saving money, and getting something out of Maybin, instead of risking it with his health.

Marlins acquire INF Luis Sardinas
Brewers acquire OF Ramon Flores

With Villar now in Milwaukee, the Brewers could swap out Luis Sardinas for a utility outfielder.

Brewers acquire INF Jonathan Villar
Astros acquire RHP Cy Sneed

Villar is still very young, but didn’t work out in Houston. It makes sense that a team would still want to take a chance on him.

Tigers acquire Francisco Rodriguez
Brewers acquire INF Javier Betancourt, PTBN

It seems like he’s been around forever, but K Rod is actually only 33-years-old. Detroit is paying a lot of money to get him, but didn’t give up too much in the prospect department to get a much needed boost to the pen.

The Brewers got Betancourt, a pretty useful prospect, and shed a lot of salary by getting rid of K Rod. As a team not really in position to win right now, it makes sense to get what they can about a one-inning guy.

Mariners acquire OF Leonys Martin, RHP Anthony Bass
Rangers acquire  OF James Jones, RHP Tom Wilhelmsen, PTBN

The Mariners have been sifting through center fielders for a while now, and are going to test the waters with Martin, a player who had a lot of promise two offseasons ago but hasn’t lived up to the hype his first three seasons with the Rangers. Still a strong defender, his average dropped from .274 to .219, strikeout rate increased, and never became as much of a threat on the base paths as one would have hoped.

Texas had a surplus of talent in the outfield, so they saw Martin as expendable, even if Wilhelmsen and Jones don’t have too much upside.

Phillies acquire RHP Jeremy Hellickson
Diamondbacks acquire RHP Sam McWilliams

The Phillies didn’t have much of a rotation before the deal, so regardless of how unexciting or unimpressive Hellickson has been since his rookie year, he’s a cheap one-year option on a rebuilding team, with a tiny chance of over performing.

Red Sox acquire RHP Craig Kimbrel
Padres acquire OF Manuel Margot, INF Javier Guerra, INF Carlos Asuaje, LHP Logan Allen

Dan Dombrowski has been suffering with a terrible bullpen for years, so it’s hard to blame him for trading for the best closer of the last decade, even at a premium. The Red Sox farm system is extremely deep, so while the team is overpaying for a one-inning guy who will only help for a year or two, the idea that they’re crippling their future is vastly overblown. Kimbrel clearly makes the Red Sox better this season, and the team wants to win now.

For the Pardres, this rounds out a year with Kimbrel. They traded very little for him last offseason, got a year of good production out of him, and then flipped him for more than they gave up. As a whole, the Kimbrel experience for the Padres was a good one.

Angels acquire SS Andrelton Simmons, C Jose Briceno
Braves acquire SS Erick Aybar, LHP Sean Newcomb, RHP Chris Ellis

To see the impact of this deal for the Angels, look at Cleveland’s overall defense last season before and after calling up Francisco Lindor mid-season. Adding the best defender in baseball to your middle infield not only gives the guy on the mound confidence, it improves you team’s second and third base defense as well.

I’m amazed the Braves we even willing to listen to deals for Simmons. He’s 26, and signed for the next five years at just over $10 million per. As I already mentioned, unbelievable defense, he rarely strikes out and can get on base more than enough to enough to get by. It was a no brainer for the Angels.

The only thing I can say about Atlanta I I’m assuming they’ll flip Aybar for more prospects, but this has to be a huge blow for the franchise’s fans. Newcomb is an elite prospect, sure, and Ellis isn’t too far behind, but I doubt they’ll be ready this season and pitchers are much riskier than position players, especially those with strong defense.  Also, since the Braves appear to be completely giving up on this season (not too surprising), they might as well trade Freddie Freeman while they’re at it.

Mariners acquire RHP Joaquin Benoit
Padres acquire RHP Enyel De Los Santos, INF Nelson Ward

The Mariners bullpen was a train wreck for most of the season, so adding a reliable arm like Beniot was expected. While the haul the Padres get isn’t close to MLB ready, they did get value for a 38-year-old relief guy.

Yankees acquire OF Aaron Hicks
Twins acquire C John Ryan Murphy

It looks like the Yankees traded for Hicks as a Chris Young replacement in the outfield. Like Young, he crushes left handed pitching, but he’s a bit more versatile and effecting in the field. Also, Hicks showed an improvement in strikeout rate, fly ball rate, and hard contact in the second half of last season, and at only 26-years-old, offers a lot more upside than Young.

After the Twins traded their young catcher, they acquired John Ryan Murphy, who’s got a little more experience in the big leagues. He’s a pretty dull player, but got the job done as a backup for New York.

Yankees acquire RHP Ronald Herrera
Padres acquire INF Jose Pirela

Not much to see here. Pirela wasn’t all that impressive in the majors last season, and Herrera has a lot to develop if he’s going to make the bigs.

Diamondbacks acquire C Chris Herrmann
Twins acquire OF Daniel Palka

Palka is a nice power prospect that should be a top 30 prospect headed into the season. Herrmann isn’t that, but he does give Arizona’s system much-needed catching depth.

Rays acquire 1st/OF Logan Morrison, RHP Danny Farquhar and SS Brad Miller
Mariners acquire RHP Nathan Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser, OF Boog Bowell

A lot of players in this deal, but nothing earth shattering. The Rays get players for this season, while much of the Mariners haul shouldn’t make much of an impact right away (if ever). I’ve always liked Farquhar and I think Kevin Cash should be able to get something out of him, but Miller and Morrison are pretty much boom or buts commodities. Karns was alright in his first full season in the majors, but, by design, never went deep into games.

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