MLB Trade Review: Yankees Acquire Rizzo

In a surprise move, the New York Yankees have acquired 1B Anthony Rizzo and cash from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for OF Kevin Alcantara and RHP Alexander Vizcaino.

I’m not sure if many people saw this one coming. The Yankees’ rival, the Red Sox, reportedly had a ton of interest in Rizzo, who they drafted in 2007. He was a perennial all-star in Chicago and is arguably the league’s best defensive first baseman. He has a high 91.1 mph average exit velocity while he walks a ton and does not strikeout often. Rizzo is a pure rental, meaning that the Yankees are going for it this year despite being out of a playoff spot at the moment. This is a huge get for the team and they will not have to pay Rizzo, just like recent acquisition Joey Gallo. The Cubs and Rangers both took all the salary for their former slugger. For the advanced stats nerds, Rizzo has seven outs above average with a .343 wOBA this year. Statcast estimates that if he played every single game this year at Yankee Stadium and the short porch, he would have nine extra home runs than he actually does. Unfortunately for the Yankees, this may mark the end of Luke Voit’s time in New York, as the 2020 MLB home run leader could be moved for pitching.

Rizzo, 31, has hit 14 home runs with four stolen bases, a .346 OBP, and a .792 OPS in 376 Plate Appearances for the Cubs this year. In his MLB career for the Cubs and San Diego Padres, he has hit 243 homers with 64 stolen bases, a .370 OBP, and an .853 OPS in 5792 Plate Appearances.

This year must really hurt for Cubs fans. The team has not been good and with Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez all slated for free agency in a few months, they are only getting worse. Rizzo is gone and Bryant looks to be next. The list of remaining players of the 2016 World Series team is thin. It is time to look at what the Cubs got. MLB Pipeline ranked Vizcaino 9th and Alcantara 12th in the Yankees system. A hard throwing right-hander, Vizcaino will take Rizzo’s spot on the 40-man roster. He has been hurt for most of this year. Alcantara is a huge, six-foot-six outfielder who was signed internationally in 2019 and has looked good since rookie ball started.

Vizcaino, 24, has a 7.50 ERA with seven strikeouts and a 2.667 WHIP in six innings in the minors this year. In his minor league career, he has a 4.95 ERA with 268 strikeouts and a 1.477 WHIP in 265.1 innings.

Alcantara, 19, has hit a home run with a stolen base and a .968 OPS in 29 Plate Appearances this year. In his short minor league career, Alcantara has hit two home runs with six stolen bases, a .325 OBP, and a .707 OPS in 203 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: White Sox Acquire Tepera

The Chicago White Sox have acquired RHP Ryan Tepera from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for LHP Bailey Horn.

We have a Chicago and Chicago trade! This one may not be as lopsided as the last one, when the Sox got Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for Jose Quintana. The buying team is also swapped. The White Sox are able to improve their bullpen by adding a stable arm in former accidental MVP candidate Tepera (look it up!). The veteran has been elite this season, posting a 2.71 xERA with a .173 xBA, a .285 xSLG, and a .213 wOBA. He has developed an elite slider, a pitch that has a 51.3 percent whiff rate this season. The pitch also has a .116 average against, helping Tepera with his amazing 4.6 H/9. He will definitely make a difference. It only costs a prospect who is just starting his professional career, making it very hard to evaluate him.

Tepera, 33, has a 2.91 ERA with 50 strikeouts, a 2.78 FIP, and a 0.785 WHIP in 43.1 innings for the Cubs this year. In his MLB career for Chicago and the Toronto Blue Jays, he has a 3.54 ERA with 284 strikeouts, a 4.08 FIP, and a 1.117 WHIP in 279.1 innings pitched.

The crosstown rivalry between the Cubs and White Sox is not a dramatic thing, so it is not impossible for the two teams to make a deadline deal, unlike if it were the Cubs and Cardinals. The Cubs are able to pick up Horn, who the White Sox drafted with their 5th round pick in 2020. Thanks to the pandemic, this is his first professional season. MLB Pipeline ranked Horn as the 23rd best prospect in the other Chicago team’s system.

Horn, 23, has a 5.63 ERA with 45 strikeouts and a 1.330 WHIP in 38.1 innings for Single-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston-Salem this year. In two seasons for Auburn, Horn had a 4.75 ERA with 58 strikeouts and a 1.382 WHIP in 55 innings.

MLB Trade Review: White Sox Acquire Hernandez

The Chicago White Sox have acquired IF Cesar Hernandez from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for LHP Konnor Pilkington.

After rookie Nick Madrigal tore his hamstring, costing him the rest of the season, the White Sox have needed a second baseman. Hernandez is their guy. He is a switch-hitter who generally has hit for average with stolen bases and no power. But in his time with Cleveland, that changed, especially this year. Hernandez already has a career high in home runs, with a career low batting average. He also did not attempt a single steal in his 154 games with the club, despite still having above-average sprint speed. He won the Gold Glove at second last year in the American League, although he does have -3 outs above average this season. His complete change in power is an odd development but it does help the White Sox accomplish their goal of adding at the position.

Hernandez, 31, has hit 18 home runs with a .307 OBP and a .738 OPS in 420 Plate Appearances for Cleveland this year. In his MLB career for the Indians and Philadelphia Phillies, Hernandez has hit 67 home runs with 80 stolen bases, a .347 OBP, and a .736 OPS in 3963 Plate Appearances.

As the White Sox pull away with the AL Central title, everyone else in their division has become sellers. Cleveland is the closest to catching them, but this trade makes that gap even bigger. Hernandez has a $6 million club option for 2022. The Indians were unlikely to pick it up and since Madrigal will be back next year, they figure that the White Sox won’t keep him, either. So, Hernandez can only hurt them in Chicago for this year, or so they think. In return, they get a 2018 third-rounder in Pilkington. The Mississippi State product has been a very good pitcher in Double-A this season. His most impressive stat may be a 5.2 H/9 as a starter.

Pilkington, 23, has a 3.48 ERA with 71 strikeouts and a 0.919 WHIP in 62 innings for AA Birmingham this season. In his MiLB career, he has a 4.13 ERA with 220 strikeouts and a 1.205 WHIP in 205 innings.

MLB Trade Review: Blue Jays Get a Helping Hand

The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired LHP Brad Hand from the Washington Nationals in exchange for catcher Riley Adams.

Reports have indicated that the only Washington player who will not be open to be traded is outfielder Juan Soto. Pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner are among the list of players who are rumored to be on the market. Hand is now the first domino to fall. The Nationals signed the southpaw to a one year, $10.5 million deal with deferred money this offseason so he could be their closer. Hand does have 16 saves but has overall been a disappointment. His strikeout rate is 23.1 percent, marking the first time since he was moved to the bullpen in 2016 that it was under 30. His walk rate is up and his xERA is 4.49. It is best for the Nationals to move on. In return, they get Adams, who MLB Pipeline ranked as Toronto’s 17th best prospect. The 2017 third-round pick out of San Diego made his MLB debut this year but went 3-for-28 over 12 games. He is a big catcher with good on-base and power skills.

Adams, 25, has hit seven home runs with a .371 OBP and an .858 OPS in 143 Plate Appearances for AAA Buffalo this year. In his minor league career, Adams has hit 28 home runs with a .363 OBP and a .783 OPS in 1194 Plate Appearances.

The Blue Jays’ biggest issue this year has obviously been pitching. They have one of the league’s best lineups but an awful staff. This trade covers at least part of their bullpen solution but now they need a starter. Hand is still a good pitcher but there are many concerns with him. His walk rate is up while his strikeout rate is down. His main pitch is his slider, which is a good pitch. However, the slider’s whiff rate is down 13 percent from last year. Hand does have an increased fastball velocity in 2021 and his H/9 is a very good 6.5. He makes their bullpen better but has not been the pitcher he once was.

Hand, 31, has a 3.59 ERA with 42 strikeouts, a 4.33 FIP, and a 1.148 WHIP in 42.2 innings for Washington this year. In his MLB career for the Nationals, Cleveland Indians, Miami Marlins, and San Diego Padres, Hand has a 3.65 ERA with 666 strikeouts, a 3.73 FIP and a 1.230 WHIP in 651.1 innings.

MLB Trade Review: Yankees Acquire Gallo

The New York Yankees have acquired OF Joey Gallo and LHP Joely Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for IFs Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith, Trevor Hauver, and RHP Glenn Otto

This is an old-fashioned blockbuster. This is ironic, since Gallo is the very opposite of an old-fashioned player. The outfielder is a .223 hitter with 125 strikeouts before the end of June. But he is still an elite player. How? Well, Gallo has incredible power. His left-handed bat will generate even more home runs with the short porch in the Yankee Stadium right field. He also mashes the ball, regardless of the outcome, Gallo has a 18.4 barrel percentage and a .502 xwOBACON, which does not factor in strikeouts. Secondly, Gallo is still amazing at getting on base. His 19.1 BB% leads the majors. Thirdly, he is an amazing defender. Gallo leads all right-fielders with six outs above average this year after winning his first Gold Glove in 2020. Thanks to Aaron Judge, Gallo will have to move to either left or center field. He will be a free agent after the 2022 season. The Yankees also get Rodriguez back in this deal, who fills the void that was created when Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson were traded to Cincinnati. Rodriguez has one more year left on his contract after this year and is slated to earn $3 million next season. He has a 3.92 xERA this year and his changeup has nearly a 35 percent whiff rate this year.

Gallo, 27, has hit 25 home runs with six stolen bases, a .379 OBP and an .869 OPS in 388 Plate Appearances for the Rangers this year. In his MLB career, all for Texas, Gallo has hit 145 homers with 26 stolen bases, a .336 OBP, and an .833 OPS in 2173 Plate Appearances.

Rodriguez, 29, has a 5.93 ERA with 30 strikeouts and a 1.610 WHIP in 27.1 innings for the Rangers in 2021. In his MLB career for the Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies, Rodriguez has a 5.05 ERA with 72 strikeouts and a 1.578 WHIP in 76.2 innings.

The Rangers certainly made a choice to go with quantity over quality, which is a risky move. They could not pry out any of the top-13 prospects in the Yankees system, per MLB Pipeline. Not giving up righty Clarke Schmidt is a big win for Yankees GM Brian Cashman. The Rangers did get a ton of players from Pipeline’s top-30 Yankees list. Ranked highest is Smith at 14. He was drafted in the 2nd round in 2019 out of LSU. Ranked 15th is Duran, an international signing who quickly rose through the organization’s prospect rankings. Pereira, another international player is 17th. In the third round of the 2020 draft, the Yankees selected Hauver, who has raked at Single-A this year. Otto, ranked 28th, was a 2017 5th round pick. He has really emerged as a high-strikeout starter this season. Finally, Vasquez is the one prospect not ranked by Pipeline. He is a young Dominican in High-A as of now. All six prospects have amazing numbers in the minors this year, so this has the potential to produce many solid pieces for the future of the Rangers.

Hauver, 22, has hit nine home runs with a .445 OBP and a .943 OPS in 299 Plate Appearances for Single-A Tampa this year. In his collegiate career at Arizona State, Hauver hit 18 home runs with a .426 OBP and a .964 OPS in 462 Plate Appearances.

Smith, who will soon be 24, has hit nine home runs with 17 stolen bases, a .448 OBP, and a 1.089 OPS in 175 Plate Appearances between Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley this year. In his minor league career, Smith has hit 12 homers with 23 stolen bases, a .449 OBP, and a 1.018 OPS in 316 Plate Appearances.

Duran, 22, has hit 12 home runs with 12 stolen bases, a .374 OBP, and a .907 OPS in 297 Plate Appearances for Hudson Valley in 2021. In his minor league career, Duran has hit 32 home runs with 34 stolen bases, a .330 OBP, and an .806 OPS in 874 Plate Appearances.

Otto, 25, has a 3.33 ERA with 115 strikeouts and a 1.018 WHIP in 75.2 innings between AA Somerset and AAA Scranton this year. In his minor league career, Otto has a 3.07 ERA with 227 strikeouts and a 1.207 WHIP in 167.1 innings pitched.