The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired SS Willy Adames and RHP Trevor Richards from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for RHPs JP Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen.
In classic Rays conditions, this trade appears to be very lopsided against them at first look, but will most likely not end up that way. Adames is one of their core locker room players, but his present and future role on the team was always complicated. He made his debut in 2018 years after being acquired from Detroit as the young headliner in the David Price trade. He then became the team’s starting shortstop, but at this moment, that is a massive surplus for Tampa Bay. Prospect Taylor Walls could get the call to replace Adames after starting the AAA season with a .958 OPS. The Rays also have Vidal Brujan, who is a highly rated prospect, and of course, the league’s top prospect, Wander Franco. Franco could be seen by the end of the season, but probably not now, unless the Rays get aggressive.
With Brandon Lowe at second base, and Joey Wendle plus Yandy Diaz as third base options, Adames could not even move positions. A trade was imminent. They throw in a starting option in Richards to get two solid bullpen pieces back. Rasmussen came onto the scene when he struck out 21 in 15.1 innings as a rookie for the Brewers last year. His average fastball velocity is 97.1 mph, with a great average spin rate of 2521. The pitch has a 29.1 percent whiff rate, which is really good for a heater. Rasmussen is young and controllable, while Feyereisen is more of the latter. In 2021, he is in the top-ten percent of pitchers in xERA (2.42), xBA (.161), xSLG (.253), wOBA (.209), and xwOBA (.250). Add a 97th percentile spin rate on his fastball, and Feyereisen has backend of the bullpen potential.
Rasmussen, 25, has a 4.24 ERA with 25 strikeouts, 12 walks, a 1.471 WHIP and a 3.84 FIP in 17 innings for the Brewers this year. In his MLB career, all for Milwaukee, Rasmussen has a 5.01 ERA with 46 strikeouts, 21 walks, a 1.577 WHIP, and a 4.27 FIP in 32.1 innings.
Feyereisen, 28, as a 3.26 ERA with 20 strikeouts, 11 walks, a 1.086 WHIP and a 4.12 FIP in 19.1 innings pitched. In his MLB career, all for the Brewers, he has a 4.08 ERA with 27 strikeouts, 16 walks, a 1.047 WHIP and a 5.32 FIP in 28.2 innings. Plus, Feyereisen has given up just 14 hits in his career for a 4.4 H/9.
This trade signals the reducing of playing time for Luis Urias, a former top prospect who was acquired for Trent Grisham less than two years ago. He was given the starting shortstop job when Orlando Arcia was traded to Atlanta, but he has a .676 OPS this year with -7 outs above average. Both Urias and Adames are young, but I’m not sure this trade is it for the Brewers. Sure, Adames has a 14.8 barrel percentage this year. But he constantly strikes out, at a 35.9 percent rate in 2021. He has struggled offensively this year, and is not that much better on defense, with -3 outs above average. He is going to be the Brewers shortstop until hitting free agency after 2023. Adames did have a 127 OPS+ last year, but his OBP is just .254 prior to the trade. Richards does not look like more than a spot starter/long-relief option. He was one of Tampa’s worst pitchers in 2020, and while his strikeout rate has increased this year, he still has a 4.51 xER with a .276 xBA and .458 xSLG against. Given the Rays’ history of success in trades like this, the Brewers should proceed cautiously.
Adames, 25, has hit five home runs with a stolen base, a .197 average and a .625 OPS in 142 Plate Appearances for the Rays this year. In his MLB career, all for Tampa Bay, Adames has hit 43 home runs with 13 stolen bases, a .254 average and a .740 OPS in 1254 Plate Appearances.
Richards, 28, has a 4.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts, three walks, a 1.000 WHIP, and a 3.38 FIP in 12 innings for the Rays this year. In his MLB career for Tampa Bay and the Miami Marlins, Richards has a 4.42 ERA with 300 strikeouts, 124 walks, a 1.390 WHIP, and a 4.32 FIP in 305.2 innings.