The trade deadline is looming, and many teams are gearing up for the stretch run. We have already seen some trades, with the Yankees acquiring Andrew Benintendi from Kansas City, the Mets nabbing Tyler Naquin from Cincinnati, and the Mariners getting Luis Castillo from the Reds. Whether it’s at the deadline, or over the offseason, the rebuilding teams will hope that the prospects can turn out well for them and become stars. This week, I will name the first All-Swindled Team, a team of players who were traded for an underwhelming return, either at the time or now. Also on the docket for this week:
- The Marcell Ozuna trade in December of 2017
- Joey Gallo in the Big Apple
- The Disaster in Detroit
- Mariners’ Maneuvers
- Player Spotlight
- and finally, the most curious power outage in the majors
The First All-Swindled Team:
Every team has had that trade where they lost value by trading away a prospect or player who became a star (or remained a star) elsewhere. The criteria was basic, the player either had to be an All-Star or All-Star caliber within the last two years, and had to be a part of a trade package where a team got robbed. With that all being said, here’s the All-Swindled Team:
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto (Traded from MIA to PHI): Catchers of Realmuto’s caliber often don’t get traded in their prime, but the Marlins were committed to shedding payroll after Bruce Sherman bought the team from Jeffrey Loria. When the Fish sent Realmuto to Philly, the package was highlighted by Jorge Alfaro and Sixto Sanchez. Alfaro was a replacement-level player for three years for Miami before getting cut loose, and Sanchez hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2020 season. Chalk this up as a win for the Phillies.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera (Traded from FLA to DET): Another Marlins player who was traded away because ownership was shedding payroll? Color me surprised. Cabrera was a star for the Marlins and a key contributor on their 2003 World Series team. Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller were the main pieces for Florida in that trade, and while those two players had fine major league careers, Cabrera became an all-time great for Detroit and will go to Cooperstown with an Old English D on his cap.
Second Base: Jake Cronenworth (Traded from TB to SD): Tampa is often regarded as a team no one wants to trade with, but that was not the case here. Cronenworth burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2020 with San Diego and hasn’t slowed down since, becoming an All-Star for the Padres. Meanwhile, the Rays got a subpar year of Hunter Renfroe before cutting him loose.
Third Base: Nolan Arenado (Traded from COL to STL): I don’t want to spend too much time on this trade. Basically, the Rockies traded their star third baseman for nothing to St. Louis and paid them $50 million to “take on” a top third baseman in the majors. An easy pick for the All-Swindled team.
Shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr. (Traded from CHW to SD): Trader A.J.’s Padres show up on this list again, trading the pitcher who gave up this home run to a misguided White Sox team for an unproven, 17-year-old player from the Dominican Republic in 2016. The White Sox went into rebuild mode after that season, and the Padres received their franchise cornerstone.
Left Field: Yordan Alvarez (Traded from LAD to HOU): This one hurts on multiple levels. The Dodgers gave up a pure hitter at a young age, and received Josh Fields, who did this, and this, and this. It’s best that we don’t talk about this trade anymore.
Center Field: Bryan Reynolds (Traded from SF to PIT): The Giants lost 98 games in 2017 and had the worst record in the National League. Their response was to go all in and trade for veterans like Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. The McCutchen trade sent Reynolds to the Pirates, and when the Giants were struggling, they traded McCutchen to the Yankees for nothing. Meanwhile, Reynolds has become a star in Pittsburgh and is a cornerstone for the rebuilding team.
Right Field: Teoscar Hernandez (Traded from HOU to TOR): In 2017, the young Teoscar Hernandez was not ready to contribute at an elite level for a Houston team chasing a championship, and was flipped at the deadline for Francisco Liriano. Liriano was mediocre and barely pitched in October for the ‘Stros. Toronto got a young outfielder who bloomed into an All-Star starter in 2021.
Starting Pitcher: Dylan Cease (Traded from CHC to CHW): The White Sox had undergone a full-blown rebuild at this point, and Jose Quintana was the main trade piece that the South Siders had in 2017. The Cubbies were trying to defend their drought-breaking World Series and needed pitching. The rare crosstown trade sent Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez, among other prospects, for Quintana. Cease has been performing at an ace level for the Sox, and the Cubs didn’t get many contributions from Quintana.
Relief Pitcher: Emmanuel Clase (Traded from TEX to CLE): Cleveland was looking to shed payroll (shocking, I know) and two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was sent to Texas in exchange for Clase and Delino DeShields Jr. Kluber pitched one inning for the Rangers in 2020 before leaving in free agency, and Cleveland got a young reliever to shut the door in the ninth.
The Marlins and the Big Bear
Like J.T. Realmuto, Marcell Ozuna was a star for the Marlins when they were sold to Bruce Sherman. The Marlins flipped Ozuna to St. Louis for a young Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, and a few other young players. Sandy Alcantara has become an ace for Miami and a potential Cy Young winner in the National League, and Zac Gallen was flipped for Jazz Chisholm. Chisholm is now a superstar and started at second base for the National League in the All-Star Game a couple of weeks ago. Moves like this suck for the rebuilding team, but this is the best case scenario for any team.
Joey Gallo’s Problems in Pinstripes
During the first half of the 2021 season, Joey Gallo was a star outfielder for the Texas Rangers, posting a wRC+ of 139 and was an All-Star. Sensing that this would be the highest Gallo’s value would be, the Rangers traded him to the Yankees at last year’s deadline, and it was lauded as a great fit. A left-handed power hitter who could play the field as good as anyone looked like the perfect move for Gallo. Since that move, Gallo has been terrible, striking out more often than he gets on base (38.8% strikeout rate to a .291 OBP). With New York trading for Andrew Benintendi, the Joey Gallo era may be coming to an end in the Bronx, and not a minute too soon for the Yanks.
Dismal Days in Detroit
Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Tigers are now listening to offers on every player, including Tarik Skubal. Skubal was seen as a cornerstone of the Tigers’ pitching staff as they planned to return to prominence this season. While Skubal has been a good pitcher with better underlying numbers (3.67 ERA vs. a 2.98 FIP), the rest of the Tigers have not lived up to expectations. Marquee free agent signing Javy Baez has been underwhelming at the plate, posting a wRC+ of 76, and is owed $120 million over the next 5 years. 2020 first overall pick Spencer Torkelson has struggled at the plate and is currently at AAA Toledo. 2018 first overall pick Casey Mize hasn’t lived up to expectations and is out indefinitely from Tommy John surgery.
General manager Al Avila has provided fans no reason to be optimistic at the trade deadline either. In 2017, facing an inevitable rebuild, he traded away franchise pillar Justin Verlander away to Houston and star hitter J.D. Martinez to Arizona for very little in return. In 2019, he traded away Nick Castellanos for a prospect who has mainly been a middle reliever for Detroit. Avila also failed to trade away Matthew Boyd and Michael Fulmer when their value was at their highest and essentially wasted two good trade chips.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that for a team that was trying to win games, this season has been nothing sort of a disaster, and unfortunately for the Tigers, it’s hard to believe in the front office right now. I hate to rag on Detroit because I really thought they would be a solid team this year, but the results speak for themselves.
The Mariners Making Moves
If there is one thing to count on at this time of year, it is that Seattle Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto will make things interesting. Once again, the Mariners didn’t disappoint, trading for All-Star pitcher Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for four prospects, including three of the top five in the farm system. A reason why the price may seem so high is that Castillo is under control until after next season, so the Mariners will get two tries at a playoff run with him.
The price may seem exorbitant, but prospects are not the guarantee that people think they are. A better farm system may have a better chance of producing stars, but player development is just as important as having top prospects. It’s easy for fans to be attached to their prospects, but with the amount of top prospects that just don’t make it in the majors, getting the proven star will usually prove to be worth it.
Player Spotlight: Patrick Corbin
I wanted to talk about Sandy Alcantara here (hence why I brought up the Marcell Ozuna trade), but then Patrick Corbin did this on Wednesday. Not long ago, he was a pitcher worth $140 million and a key contributor to a World Series winner in the nation’s capital. Now, it is entirely possible that Patrick Corbin may possess the worst contract in the majors, as he has sported an ERA of 5.80 and a FIP of 4.93. How did Corbin decline so fast?
Basically, Corbin stopped missing bats, and his ability to get strikeouts waned greatly. In 2019, when Corbin was hit, he would get hit hard, but he could strikeout pitchers very well. Three years later, he still gets hit hard, but can’t strikeout guys like he used to. Case in point, the average exit velocity for Corbin ranked in the 17th percentile, while his strikeout rate was in the 80th percentile in 2019. In 2020, those two marks were in the 12th and 30th percentile, then in 2021, they were in the 35th and 18th percentile respectively. This season, Corbin’s average exit velocity is in the 8th percentile, while the strikeout rate is in the 28th percentile.
Digging even deeper, Corbin’s Whiff Percentage and Chase Rate were excellent in 2019, at the 86th and 92nd percentile respectively. In 2020, the Chase Rate remained elite (90th percentile), but the Whiff Percentage dropped to the 29th percentile in the majors. Last year, the Whiff Percentage improved to the 39th percentile but his Chase Rate dropped slightly to the 87th percentile. However, this season the Chase Rate fell drastically (45th percentile) and the Whiff Percentage dropped to the 26th percentile in the majors. The dropoff in strikeout percentage, whiff percentage, and chase rate, and continued issues with hard-hit baseballs has made for a drastic fall for Corbin, making the very idea of trading him in a Juan Soto deal laughable.
Kris Bryant‘s Home Power
Even before joining the Rockies, Kris Bryant had not enjoyed success at Coors Field. From 2015 to 2021, Bryant posted a slashline of .263/.354/.403, average OPS of .757, and 2 home runs in 17 games. Since becoming a Blake Street Bomber, Bryant has posted a slashline of .333/.394/.387, an OPS of .781, and no home runs at home. The struggles at altitude are curious, as a hitter of Bryant’s caliber should be able to enjoy hitting for more power. Heading into 2022, Bryant posted an ISO (isolated power) of .226 while playing home games in an average offensive environment in Chicago and a pitcher park in San Francisco. Logically, going to a hitter-friendly park like Coors Field would boost Bryant’s numbers, but we have yet to see that result.
Statistics are accurate entering play on July 30. Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference, FanGraphs, BaseballSavant, ESPN, MLB.com, and Spotrac
Image Courtesy of Sports Illustrated