3 TEAM TRADE REVIEW: Astros Acquire Mancini in Deal With Orioles, Rays

We weren’t sure if the Orioles would move fan-favorite Trey Mancini, even with him entering free agency at the end of the 2022 season. They pulled the trigger, sending him to the Houston Astros in a three-team trade. Here is the full deal, with the parenthesis signaling where each play came from:

To Houston: 1B Trey Mancini (BAL), RHP Jayden Murray (TB)

To Baltimore: RHP Seth Johnson (TB), RHP Chayce McDermott (HOU)

To Tampa Bay: OF Jose Siri (HOU)

Let’s start with Houston, since Mancini is the top name in the trade. Yuli Gurriel is having a rough season and the Astros could use another bat. Mancini is a proven one, although he has no playoff experience. With a 114 OPS+, he has been a solid hitter for a rag-tag Baltimore team this year. He is also cheaper than Josh Bell, who seemed like the other option for Houston. They also bring home Murray, who has been a quality AA starter this season.

Mancini, 30, has hit 10 home runs with a .347 OBP, and a .751 OPS in 401 Plate Appearances for the Orioles this year. In his MLB career, all in Baltimore, Mancini has hit 117 homers with a .797 OPS in 2933 Plate Appearances.

Murray, 25, has a 3.24 ERA with 73 strikeouts and a 1.190 WHIP in 80.2 innings between AA and AAA this year, with only one start at the higher level. In his minor league career, the former 23rd round pick has a 2.61 ERA with 216 strikeouts and a 0.935 WHIP in 217 innings pitched.

The Orioles end up with two arms who were both ranked in their organization by MLB Pipeline. Johnson was Tampa Bay’s 6th best prospect, and McDermott was Houston’s 12th. Johnson is set to have Tommy John surgery, making him more of a trade chip for Tampa Bay than previously. He was a supplemental first round pick in the 2019 draft and has been dominant in the low levels of the minors. McDermott has a high ERA this season, but has a ton of strikeouts and control issues. He was a 4th round pick in 2021 out of Ball State.

Johnson, 23, has a 3.00 ERA with 41 strikeouts and a 1.259 WHIP in 27 innings at High-A Bowling Green this season. In his minor league career, Johnson has a 2.81 ERA with 172 strikeouts and a 1.257 WHIP in 137.2 innings pitched.

McDermott, 23, has a 5.50 ERA with 114 strikeouts, 43 walks, and a 1.389 WHIP in 72 innings pitched for High-A Asheville this season. He has a 4.92 ERA with 154 strikeouts in 93.1 career MiLB innings.

The Rays ended up trading a lot of paper, but they ended up with an outfielder who brings a lot to the table. To do so, they had to get rid of a fan favorite (just like the Orioles did) in Brett Phillips, who was designated for assignment. Siri has not hit well in the majors this season, but has speed and phenomenal outfield defense. He has also been a star in the minor leagues offensively. Siri could be trained as the next Kevin Kiermaier until the Rays trade their longest tenured player away.

Siri, 27, has three home runs with six stolen bases and a .542 OPS in 147 Plate Appearances for the Astros this year, and nine home runs with a 1.121 OPS in 16 AAA games. In 140 career AAA games (roughly a full season), Siri has hit 25 home runs with 31 stolen bases, a .290 average, and an OPS of .867.

MLB Trade Review: Yankees Acquire Montas, Trivino

The New York Yankees have their big fish. Right-handed pitchers Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino from the Oakland Athletics are going to the Bronx for left-handers Ken Waldichuk and JP Sears, RHP Luis Medina, and second baseman Cooper Bowman. The Yankees get another frontline starter to add to the mix while keeping their top prospects of Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and Oswald Peraza.

With Luis Severino injured, the Yankees need a starter to pair with Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes Jr. Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon have been up-and-down in recent starts. Montas is a legitimate playoff starter, and comes alongside a possible relief ace. The 29-year-old Montas was the second-best option on the trade market behind Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo, who was traded to Seattle for a package headlined by Noelvi Marte, who MLB Pipeline ranked as a top-20 prospect in baseball. The Yankees don’t give up nearly as much as that. Since the start of 2021, Castillo has a 3.63 ERA and a 3.58 FIP in 47 starts. In 51 starts, Montas has a 3.30 ERA and a 3.37 FIP. Both pitchers are free agents after the 2023 season. However, Montas just came off the injured list with shoulder problems, which will be something to monitor as the regular season goes on.

Trivino is an interesting acquisition. He is still eligible for arbitration for two more seasons. His base salary is $3 million this year, and wouldn’t go down over those next two years. If he struggles in New York, he could be non-tendered, which is the worst case scenario. Trivino has a high WHIP, which is accredited to a 12.3 H/9. Batters have a .451 BAbip against Trivino, which is impossible to replicate, even if a pitcher was trying. He also has a groundball rate above 52 percent this year and a slider with a whiff rate of 52 percent.

Montas, 29, has a 3.18 ERA with 109 strikeouts, a 3.36 FIP, and a 1.137 WHIP in 104.2 innings pitched this year. In his MLB career for the A’s and Chicago White Sox, Montas has a 3.73 ERA with 578 strikeouts, a 3.71 FIP and a 1.274 WHIP in 552.2 innings pitched.

Trivino, 30, has a 6.47 ERA with 45 strikeouts and a 3.84 FIP in 32 innings pitched this year. In his MLB career, Trivino has a 4.04 ERA with 277 strikeouts, a 3.94 FIP, and a 1.346 WHIP in 263 innings pitched.

Despite not dealing any of their top-three prospects, the Yankees still purged their farm system in the past week. Of MLB Pipeline’s top-30 Yankee prospects, they traded two ranked players in TJ Sikkema and Beck Way to Kansas City for Andrew Benintendi, and Hayden Wesneski to Chicago for reliever Scott Effross. All four players going to Oakland are on the list.

Waldichuk is the headliner, placed at number five on the list. He conquered AA early on this year, and has excelled since a call-up to AAA. While control can be an issue at times, he is one of the best minor league starters at striking batters out. Medina can reach triple digits on his fastball, and is having a good season at AA. Even more than Waldichuk, control is a major problem for him. Sears is the only one of the group with major league experience. He could be ready to take Montas’ spot in the Oakland rotation. He has looked good in limited time this season for the big club. Bowman was drafted last year, and while he has not hit well at High-A, he has shown a great ability to steal bases. With Sears and Medina included, the 40-man roster number does not change for either team.

Waldichuk, 24, has a 2.71 ERA with 116 strikeouts and a 1.140 WHIP in 76.1 innings between AA and AAA this season. In his minor league career, Waldichuk has a 3.00 ERA with 328 strikeouts and a 1.113 WHIP in 215.2 innings.

Sears, 26, has a 2.05 ERA with 15 strikeouts and a 0.864 WHIP in 22 innings for the Yankees this year. He has a 1.67 ERA with 55 strikeouts and a 0.721 WHIP in 43 innings at AAA.

Medina, 23, has a 3.38 ERA with 81 strikeouts, 40 walks, and a 1.194 WHIP in 72 innings for AA Somerset this season. In his minor league career, Medina has a 4.46 ERA with 431 strikeouts, 244 walks, and a 1.470 WHIP in 361.1 innings.

Bowman, 22, has hit eight home runs with 35 stolen bases and a .698 OPS in 364 Plate Appearances for High-A Hudson Valley this season.

MLB Trade Review: Padres Acquire Hader, Send Rogers to Milwaukee

AJ Preller is a madman. The GM of the San Diego Padres has acquired star closer Josh Hader from the Milwaukee Brewers, sacrificing his own closer to do so. Left-hander Taylor Rogers will now be a key member of the Milwaukee bullpen. Former ace Dinelson Lamet, as well as prospects Robert Gasser, a LHP, and outfielder Esteury Ruiz are headed to the Brewers.

A blockbuster on the eve of the trade deadline. Hader has undeniably been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, if not the best, since his debut in 2017. He started 2022 off in a ridiculous manner, not allowing a run until June 7th. However, his month of July was awful. Hader allowed five home runs in 9.1 innings, with a 12.54 ERA. Batters had a 1.258 OPS against him. Something could be wrong, or Hader is just going through a slump. For those folks still interested in saves, Hader just passed Rogers for the MLB lead. Hader is still a strikeout machine, with a career 44.1 K%. Not a free agent until after 2023, Hader will improve the Padres bullpen. However, they still need to add another one, having the same amount of impact arms as they did yesterday.

Hader, 28, has a 4.24 ERA with 29 saves, 59 strikeouts, a 3.47 FIP, and a 1.118 WHIP in 34 innings this year. In his MLB career, Hader has a 2.48 ERA with 541 strikeouts, a 2.70 FIP, and a 0.882 WHIP in 316.1 innings pitched.

The Brewers could sneakily make out huge in this trade, thanks to the underlying numbers of Rogers and organizational depth. Set-up man Devin Williams has out-performed Hader this season, and will now share save opportunities with Rogers and Brad Boxberger. Rogers has a much lower walk rate than Hader and has only allowed one home run all season long. His 2.35 FIP is much better. He is not as dynamic as Hader, but is still effective at striking batters out.

Lamet was fourth in Cy Young voting in 2020, but has always dealt with chronic injuries. Now, he has been converted into a relief pitcher. However, his 2022 numbers are horrible, as Lamet has a 2.027 WHIP and a 9.49 ERA in 13 outings. In AAA he has looked significantly better, with just one earned run allowed and 18 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. The talent is there, although the control is not. The Brewers have a history of developing relievers, like Hader and Williams. Lamet could be the next.

Gasser (7) and Ruiz (28) were both ranked on MLB Pipeline’s top Padres prospects list. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2021, Gasser has started in High-A this year, and has good strikeout numbers. Ruiz made his MLB debut this year. He has remarkable minor league numbers, especially in the speed department. That speed could get him on Milwaukee’s postseason roster.

Rogers, 31, has a 4.35 ERA with 48 strikeouts and a 1.113 WHIP in 41.1 innings for the Padres this year. In his MLB career for San Diego and the Minnesota Twins, Rogers has a 3.29 ERA with 409 strikeouts, a 2.93 FIP, and a 1.146 WHIP in 356 innings pitched.

Lamet, 30, has a career ERA of 4.08 with 410 strikeouts, a 3.81 FIP, and a 1.229 WHIP in 315.2 innings pitched.

Gasser, 23, has a 4.18 ERA with 115 strikeouts and a 1.262 WHIP in 90.1 innings pitched for High-A Fort Wayne this season.

Ruiz, 23, has a .556 OPS and one stolen base in 27 Plate Appearances this season. Between AA and AAA this year, he has hit 13 home runs with 60 stolen bases (yes, 60), a .333 average, a .467 OBP, and a 1.028 OPS in 374 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Yankees Acquire Effross

The New York Yankees’ bid for World Series number 28 continues, as General Manager Brian Cashman has added help for his bullpen. New York traded RHP prospect Hayden Wesneski to the Chicago Cubs for relief pitcher Scott Effross, a side-armer in the midst of a breakout season.

With Michael King out for the season with a fractured elbow, the Yankees badly needed a relief pitcher, and they still could be in the market for one after this trade. Effross is a perfect replacement for King. With five years of team control remaining, he could also be paired with him next season and beyond. The Ohio native debuted at 27 last season and has become a huge part of the Chicago bullpen this year. Despite not throwing hard, Effross has a strong sinker and slider combination with a wipeout changeup. He has balanced all three true outcomes well this season, along with hard hit balls and barrels. Effross’ 2.21 xERA is 11th in all of baseball.

The 28-year-old has a 2.66 ERA with 50 strikeouts, 11 walks, a 2.19 ERA and a 1.068 WHIP in 44 innings pitched this season.

The Cubs’ teardown continues. Effross has team control, but he is not young, so trading him when his value is high makes sense. For Cubs fans, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wesneski this past offseason. You can read that here. Drafted in the 6th round of the 2019 draft, he is nearly MLB ready, having produced at AAA all season. He has made 19 starts and has a HR/9 under 1.0 with quality control. At 24-years-old, he could be a starting option for next season and even down the stretch. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 7th best prospect in the Yankees system, but he had been passed up by Ken Waldichuk, another AAA starter, making him expendable for New York.

Wesneski has a 3.51 ERA with 83 strikeouts and a 1.149 WHIP in 89.2 innings for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. In his minor league career he has a 3.52 ERA with 264 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.156 in 248.1 innings pitched.

MLB Trade Review: Rays Acquire Bethancourt

The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired C/1B Christian Bethancourt from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for OF Cal Stevenson and RHP Christian Fernandez.

The lowly A’s offense just got even worse, and that is exactly how Oakland management wants it. The last place team signed Bethancourt in Spring Training to a minor league deal and he has surpassed expectations. While his overall numbers are nothing too special, he can play two positions, one of which is catcher, and has crushed the ball.

In return for what was a free player just months ago, the A’s got two minor leaguers. Stevenson is an older prospect, originally drafted by Toronto. He was dealt to Houston in 2019 with Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini for Derek Fisher, then to Tampa Bay six months later for Austin Pruitt. He reached AAA this year, but has never slugged the ball at the minor league level. Still, his OBP is very good at the highest level of the minors. Fernandez is splitting starting and relief duties at Single-A this year while striking everyone out.

Fernandez, 22, has a 2.79 ERA with 87 strikeouts and a 1.155 WHIP in 58 innings this year. In his minor league career he has a 3.79 ERA with 286 strikeouts and a 1.255 WHIP in 263.2 innings pitched.

Stevenson, 25, has two home runs with nine stolen bases, a .376 OBP, and a .729 OPS in 203 Plate Appearances. In his MiLB career he has 18 homers with 60 stolen bases, a .407 OBP, and an OPS of .818.

For a contending team, the Rays’ offense has been mostly abysmal this season. While first baseman Ji-Man Choi is not the problem, the Rays love their platoons. The right-handed hitting Bethancourt has a .733 OPS and a 106 OPS+ against left-handed pitching this year. He is also hitting the ball as hard as possible. Bethancourt has an average exit velocity of 91.9 mph with a .477 xwOBACON this year. Despite having just a .385 slugging, Bethancourt has an expected slugging of .570. The Rays see that he could start a positive regression soon. Plus, he has started 12 games at catcher this season. Tampa Bay has had severe catching issues with Mike Zunino out for most of 2022.

Bethancourt, 30, has hit four home runs with four stolen bases, a .298 OBP, and a .683 OPS in 182 Plate Appearances this year. In his MLB career, Bethancourt has 12 home runs with seven stolen bases, a .264 OBP, and a .598 OPS in 217 games played.