On the same day the Blake Snell trade became official, the Rays did what they do best, and made yet another trade. In a three team trade with the Dodgers and Phillies they sent LHP Jose Alvarado to Philadelphia. Fellow LHP Garrett Cleavinger was sent to LA, and the Rays received first basemen Dillon Paulson and a PTBNL from LA.
For Tampa, they needed to clear a roster space for both Mejia and Pitino, whom they just received from San Diego. Both figure to be on the 40 and 25 man rosters for 2021. As for Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox, they do not need to be rostered immediately given their pro status.
Alvarado was apparently expendable to the Rays front office and ownership. He had an injury plagued 2019 and 2020, but has been a fixture in the Rays bullpen since 2017. Alvarado is a PitchingNinja darling but by all accounts of Rays fans, a bit of a head case given his plus stuff, inconsistency finding the strike zone and injury history. He had the 9th worst xFIP amongst pitchers on the Rays staff. Among the top 10 on that list, only 4 remain on the team (Sherriff, Richards, Chirinos and Kittredge).
In his career, he has amassed a career ERA of 3.46, 10.9 K/9 and has only allowed 6 home runs. Control issues were his main problem, as his BB% had increased every year besides 2020. At the same time, the rate at which batters barreled him up has increased every year. And if someone much smarter than I could calculate the amount of 1-2-3 innings he’s had…. I promise you it’s not good. Also, Phillies fans better hope JT Realmuto does resign, because they need to get ready to defend a wild pitch/passed ball when Jose is on the mound.
Even after my astute and totally legitimate analysis, I believe Philly should have totally made this trade. They need bullpen help arguably more than anyone in the league after leading the league in bullpen ERA. Alvarado is still only 25 and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2022. He definitely has the promise to mold into one the games best relievers. But buyer beware, if Tampa couldn’t solve this guys issues on the mound…. good luck.
Tampa gets back a decent but not spectacular infield prospect in Paulson. He was a former 13th round pick out of USC, and has played 2 minor league seasons – most recently was at the A level in 2019. In 175 career games, the left hander slashed .253/.373/.464 (26 HR’s), owns a K% of 23.7, and a BB% of 16. He is 26, and will likely begin next year at the A level.
Tampa has also resigned catcher Kevan Smith to a minor league deal, all but ending any hopes of a trade for Wilson Contreras (this is my attempt at reverse psychology).
After the slurry of trades Rays GM Erik Neander was made available to the media, in which he cited how tough it was to move Snell, the cautious optimism of contending in 2021, and how the team is still exploring veteran pitching options for both the starting rotation and bullpen. Some speculation has connected them to a reunion with Chris Archer and even Jake Odorizzi. Some have noted James Paxton as someone who Tampa has kept tabs on. Neander stated that these moves do not indicate a “white flag for 2021” and still believes they are doing what they can to contend for a World Series title. The trade of Snell for a haul of young talent is very on par for Tampa, as they can stay competitive the following year all the while building an elite farm system for the ever looming big future of the team. Neander also mentioned that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Alvarado regain his 2018 form, but roster management took precedent in the trade.
A fun note to wrap this up, is that this three team trade is the first of former Ray Sam Fuld’s GM career in Philly. In this trade, he did business with two of his former employers in Andrew Friedman and Erik Neander.
The MLB Hot Stove is approaching Air Fryer type temperatures. Get ready baseball fans.