Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Week That Was: National League West

This continues a division-by-division look at last week's transactions in baseball. See the National League East entry for ground rules.

This project's a lot of work. No division more so than this one. 

Traded away: SS Didi Gregorius, SP Wade Miley, C Miguel Montero
Free agents signed: None

2015 Impact: At 64-98, the Diamondbacks were the worst team in baseball in 2014. These moves are recognition of that. The team traded three established players for a bunch of prospects. It won't help them much this year, but it might in the coming years.

2016+ Impact: De La Rosa was supposedly one of the centerpieces of the big salary dump in 2012 in which the Red Sox sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers, but he hasn't done much with the Red Sox (4-8, 4.43 ERA in 18 starts in 2014). Godley and Mejia come from the Cubs' deep farm system. They both pitched at Class A and Rookie ball last year, so they're not close. Ditto Leyba, who's just 19. Ray, like De La Rosa, was a centerpiece of a notable trade--the one last winter that sent pitcher Dough Fister to Nationals--who's now being traded again. He was the Tigers' No. 3 prospect entering the season according to ESPN's Keith Law, but he posted an 8.16 ERA in nine games for Detroit and a 4.22 ERA at AAA Indianapolis (the league average was 4.04). Webster was ranked 88 by Baseball America and 46 by before last season, and he posted good numbers at AAA Pawtucket (3.10 ERA, 100 strikeouts in 122 innings) and not so good numbers in Boston (5.03 ERA, 36 strikeouts in 59 innings). For these moves to work for the Diamondbacks over the long term, somebody's going to have to pan out, because the three players Arizona traded away aren't at risk of leaving via free agency: Gregorius won't be eligible until 2010, Miley and Montero until 2018.

Traded for: RP Jairo Diaz
Traded away: 2B/SS Josh Rutledge
Free agents signed: None

2015 Impact: This could be a nice deal for the Rockies. Diaz is a converted catcher who was pretty strong at A and AA (3.48 ERA, 85 strikeouts in 64.2 innings over 56 games) and a brief trial in Anaheim (four hits, eight strikeouts, three walks in 5.2 innings in five games). Rutledge has been below-average at the plate in three seasons of part-time play in Colorado. His role in 2015 was likely to hang around until Troy Tulowitzki gets hurt, and Colorado always has a need for arms.

2016+ Impact: As with 2015, I think this trade makes the Rockies a slightly better team.

Traded for (deep breath): C-IF Austin Barnes, SP Zach Eflin, C Yasmani Grandal, RP Chris Hatcher, OF Chris Heisey, IF-OF Enrique Hernandez, 2B Howie Kendrick, SP Joe Wieland
Traded away (another deep breath): C Tim Federowicz, 2B Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren, OF Matt Kemp, SP Matt Magill, IF Miguel Rojas
Free agents signed: SP Brandon McCarthy

2015 Impact: Hacking through all of this...the key additions here are Grandal, Kendrick, and McCarthy; the key subtractions are Gordon, Haren, and Kemp. A lot of Dodger fans are pretty upset about these moves, but as I've written, I don't think the loss of Kemp is that traumatic, and I'm not a big Dee Gordon fan. Haren wasn't all that good last year, and is making noises about retiring rather than reporting to the Marlins. Grandal's an underrated catcher, and Dodgers catchers were pretty atrocious last year (.181 batting average, .283 on base percentage, .261 slugging percentage--all last in the league). McCarthy split last season between the Diamondbacks, for whom he was pretty bad (3-10, 5.01 ERA) and the Yankees, for whom he was pretty good (7-5, 2.89 ERA). His underlying peripherals at both stops (strikeout, walk, and home run rate) point to mid-3-range ERA. And while he has a deserved reputation for being injury-prone, there were only 32 pitchers in the majors who topped his 200 innings pitched last year. Among the other players acquired, Hatcher had a strong year in the Marlins bullpen and joins a team with a real need for a bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. I'm willing to concede that maybe these moves in aggregate make the Dodgers a little weaker next year, due largely to Kemp's bat, but I'm leaning more toward them being a push and possibly a plus.

2016+ Impact: Kendrick could turn out to be rental (he's eligible for free agency in 2016) but several of the youngsters the Dodgers picked up could be contributors in the future. Eflin was first round draft pick two years ago, Hernandez can play all over the field, and Barnes plays catcher, second, and third. Wieland had a strong if shortened year coming back from Tommy John surgery. All could help the Dodgers, possibly in 2015, more likely in 2016 and beyond.

Comic relief: The Dodgers moves came so fast and furious that at one point they traded for left-handed pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, only to trade him away less than two hours later. That prompted this tweet from Heaney:

Traded for: C Tim Federowicz, OF Matt Kemp
Traded away: SP Zach Eflin, C Yasmani Grandal, SP Joe Wieland
Free agents signed: SS Clint Barmes

2015 Impact: Well, if I liked this trade for the Dodgers, I suppose I don't like it for the Padres. Assuming Kemp's healthy and not playing center, though, this should make San Diego better in 2015. Barmes is a good glove/no bat guy who'll be 36 next season and was signed to a one-year contract (with a team option for 2016). He'll back up Alexi Amarista, a similarly bad hitter who could stand to learn some defensive pointers from his new teammate.

2016+ Impact: This is where I have reservations. The Padres gave up an OK catcher and a couple good pitching prospects for Matt Kemp's decline phase. Also, I should note that while Dodgers Stadium boosts homers for right-handed hitters, San Diego's Petco Park doesn't, so Kemp's superficial power numbers are likely to decline.

Traded forNobody
Traded awayNobody
Free agents signed: Nobody

Thanks, Giants. I needed a breather.

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