Predicting Boom or Bust for Every New MLB Trade Acquisition

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 2, 2013

Predicting Boom or Bust for Every New MLB Trade Acquisition

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    Now that we have passed the non-waiver trade deadline, teams and players can focus their attention on what will come for the next two months. 

    There are two sides to every trade. The acquiring team is trying to get better for a run at the postseason, while the trading team is, in most cases, looking toward the future and what it takes to win a championship down the line. 

    Going over this year's deals, while there weren't a lot of big moves, enough of them were made that can have an impact on what happens in the postseason race. 

    Since everyone loves predictions, we are going to tell you whether your favorite team's deals are going to go boom or bust. We will only be discussing things at the MLB level, unless there was a deal with a top prospect or good group of prospects. 

    A variety of factors will be taken into account including, health history, current performance, contract/arbitration status, etc. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted. 

Acquisitions: Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton to Boston

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    Even though they were acquired in two separate deals roughly two weeks apart, the Red Sox did well in their quest for pitching by raiding the dreadful White Sox for Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton. 

    Let's start in chronological order with Thornton. The Red Sox bullpen has been beaten up by injuries to Andrew Miller, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey. Thornton essentially takes Miller's spot as the lefty specialist out of the 'pen. 

    Thornton has been trending downward the last two years, which coincides with a loss of some velocity on his fastball and throwing his slider a lot more than he used to. He is striking out a career-low 6.75 per nine innings and giving up a career-high 1.04 home runs per nine innings. 

    U.S. Cellular Field can be very hitter friendly, though Fenway Park isn't exactly a pitcher's paradise. Given his limited role with the team, Thornton can be effective with the Red Sox. But I won't go so far as to say he will be a boom. I would put more money on the bust category. 

    Peavy was a great acquisition, though there is one big caveat. Considering what the Red Sox gave up (Jose Iglesias and a few low-level minor leaguers who don't project to be impact players), it was a smart, shrewd move. 

    However, the elephant in the room is Peavy's health. He has thrown just 80 innings this season and only made it past 111 innings once in the previous four seasons. 

    On top of that, while the command is still very good and the stuff is still good even as the velocity has dipped, Peavy has been homer prone this season with 14 long balls allowed. 

    But if he can come back and perform as well as the stuff suggests he can, Peavy should slot in well with Clay Buchholz (if/when he returns), Jon Lester and John Lackey at the top of the rotation. 

    The good news is that Peavy is also signed to a reasonable contract through 2014, so this is more than just a rental. That is also a big reason why I give this a strong chance to be a boom. 

    Prediction: Thornton, Bust; Peavy, Boom

Acquisitions: Bud Norris, Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez to Baltimore

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    The Orioles saw their holes and did what they had to in order to plug them without giving up a lot of future assets in the process. 

    Going in chronological order of acquisition again, Feldman has been about as good as could be expected given his stuff, career trajectory and his move from the NL Central to the AL East. He has posted a 5.12 ERA and allowed 38 baserunners in 31.2 innings with the Orioles. 

    It would be hard to expect much more from Feldman because he doesn't miss a lot of bats and has to rely on control and movement to succeed. That can get you by the NL Central with mediocre offensive teams like Chicago, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, but not in a division with Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto. 

    Rodriguez was having a fluky season considering his .224 BABIP and 1.30 home runs per nine innings pitched, but he does give Buck Showalter another option to use in the sixth or seventh innings. I don't have high hopes for him in this division, but because K-Rod has been able to strikeout more than a hitter per inning, there might be some reason for optimism. 

    Norris is the wild card of the equation. He isn't as good as his 3.93 ERA in Houston would suggest, but does feature a high-velocity fastball and good slider that might play well against the right lineup, like it did on Thursday when he struck out eight Astros in six innings. 

    Ultimately, Norris' role will be as a back-end starting pitcher or two-pitch reliever. The Orioles get more value if he starts, but he might have more success in relief because the fastball is hittable when you get a prolonged look at it. 

    Prediction: Feldman, Rodriguez and Norris all bust

Acquisitions: Jose Veras and Jose Iglesias to Detroit

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    The Tigers' acquisition of Jose Iglesias in the three-way trade that sent Jake Peavy from Chicago to Boston fascinates me, simply because he is vastly different from the kinds of players this team usually goes after. 

    Despite what fans in Detroit will tell you, the Tigers are a dreadful defensive team. They rank 17th in ultimate zone rating and 25th in defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs. Iglesias makes them instantly better because he is a fantastic defender at shortstop, which also takes some of the impetus off Miguel Cabrera to try moving around at third base. 

    Of course, Iglesias' playing time depends on what happens with Jhonny Peralta and Biogenesis. So Iglesias could have a negligible impact this year, though he is under control for five years beyond 2013 and Peralta is a free agent after the season. The Tigers could choose to let Peralta go in an effort to allocate funds elsewhere. 

    On the flip side, Iglesias is a nothing offensive player. His fluky start to the season has caught up to him. The rookie shortstop hit just .205/.247/.217 in July, including a .143/.143/.143 line since the All-Star break. 

    If he can figure out a way to be a .250-.260 hitter with no power and a few walks, Iglesias will be a starting shortstop because the defense is so great. It just doesn't seem likely he will get there. 

    Veras gives Jim Leyland some options. I don't believe that his ERA will remain 2.93 the rest of the season because his walk rate is lower now (2.9 per nine innings) than at any point in his career. He isn't under the microscope since Joaquin Benoit will be the team's closer, so I can see him succeeding in the seventh-inning role. 

    Prediction: Iglesias, Bust; Veras, Boom

Acquisitions: Avisail Garcia and 3 Prospects to Chicago

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    It took the bottom completely dropping out, but the White Sox finally decided to trade aging veterans for prospects and begin a pseudo rebuild. They waited too long with players like Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn to the point where no one wants their contracts and lack of production. 

    The big trade was obviously dealing Jake Peavy to Boston in a three-team trade with Chicago and Detroit that netted the White Sox Avisail Garcia from the Tigers and minor leaguers Cleuluis Rondon, Francellis Montas and JB Wendelken from the Red Sox.

    They also acquired Brandon Jacobs from Boston in a separate deal earlier last month that sent Matt Thornton to the Red Sox. 

    Garcia is the big name because he played with the Tigers during the playoffs last year, is just 22 years old and has some upside. He has raw power, bat speed, running speed and plays solid defense in right field, but his approach and plate discipline are problematic to the point that the offensive tools won't play up to their potential. 

    Jacobs was a potential breakout candidate in Boston's system last year. He has always been loaded with tools but never made the adjustments to help them play up to their potential. 

    As for the other three prospects, none of them project to be much right now. Rondon, Montas and Wendelken are all in the lower levels of the minors. Montas has a tremendous fastball but little control and no second pitch. Wendelken is a seventh-inning type pitcher, and Rondon might end up as a utility guy in the big leagues.

    Prediction: Bust for all five players 

Acquisition: Ian Kennedy to San Diego

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    While not a contender this season, the Padres made a move that they hope will help their starting rotation for the future by acquiring Ian Kennedy from Arizona for two relievers and a draft pick. 

    Kennedy clearly had no future with the Diamondbacks, and really fell out of favor with a 5.23 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Arizona has too much pitching depth in the big leagues and minors, and his salary figures to go up in his second year of arbitration next year, making this a logical move. He was also a poor fit for Chase Field as a pitcher whose fastball can be elevated easily. 

    But putting Kennedy in spacious Petco Park could make it easier for him to post better-than-average ERAs for the next two years and allow him to rebuild his stock as he heads into free agency after the 2015 season. 

    Even if Kennedy's stats are completely superficial because of the park he will pitch in, the Padres didn't give up anything of note in the deal and get to keep Kennedy for the next two years at a reasonable salary. 

    Prediction: Boom

Acquisitions: Joe Thatcher and Matt Stites to Arizona

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    Arizona general manager Kevin Towers has an unhealthy obsession with bullpens, which is why he never traded Heath Bell when he worked for San Diego and why he traded Ian Kennedy for two relievers. 

    Joe Thatcher is a sidearm left-hander who, like so many pitchers with that kind of delivery, is only effective against left-handed hitting. He has allowed a .516 OPS against lefties in his career (.488 in 2013), compared to .716 vs. righties (.814 in 2013). 

    Matt Stites was the other piece acquired in the deal. He is currently in Double-A and has very good control of a fastball with no effective secondary pitch. Stites is also undersized at 5'11", which gives him little plane on the fastball and figures to make him susceptible to homers in the big leagues. 

    Prediction: Bust for both

Acquisition: Matt Garza to Texas

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    The first big domino to fall before the deadline was Matt Garza going to the Texas Rangers. The team did give up four prospects, including a top-30 player, when healthy, in Mike Olt. 

    But considering where the Rangers were when the deal was made with Yu Darvish just coming off the DL, Martin Perez still working his way back after missing the first two months, and Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm getting lit up like Christmas trees, it was a deal that made a lot of sense. 

    Garza is a pitcher who has really settled into his role as a quality No. 3 starter. At times he has been better than that, but his career suggests that of a very good No. 3 on a first-division rotation. 

    That is exactly what the Rangers needed for the stretch run. They have Darvish at the top of the rotation, Derek Holland right behind him, and Garza to slot in after that. If they get to the playoffs, that trio could carry them to another World Series appearance. 

    Giving up four prospects for one pitcher who is just a two-month rental seems like a lot, but other than Olt, the players they gave up are years away from doing anything in the big leagues. 

    Prediction: Boom

Acquisition: Grant Green to Los Angeles, Alberto Callaspo to Oakland

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    Oakland and Los Angeles, two AL West rivals, made a small deal on the same day that Jake Peavy was traded, so there was no chance this would get any attention. But it is a move that I like for both sides. 

    Callaspo is a versatile infielder who can play anywhere but first base, though he is a below-average defender at shortstop and would be best served at third base. The A's are set at third base with Josh Donaldson, so it doesn't seem likely Callaspo will see much time there. 

    If the Athletics move him to second, where their offensive production has been awful (.259/.324/.346), Callaspo will be a huge upgrade.

    His offensive numbers this season aren't much better than Oakland's second baseman (.252/.324/.347), but he fits this lineup nicely because he doesn't strikeout. That ability to put the ball in play gives Bob Melvin more flexibility wherever Callaspo hits in the lineup. 

    On the other side, Green has been buried in Oakland's system for years since he doesn't have a clear position. Second base is probably his best spot, though he is below-average there. 

    Green's offensive profile is solid. He has a very nice compact swing that produces a lot of line drives. The home-run power is fringy, but he could be a guy who hits 30-plus doubles and 10-12 homers. His approach is a little crude and that knocks his average down. 

    But as a player under control for six years, Green has good potential for the Angels and should get a chance to play every day. I like the move and think he could be a solid, offensive-oriented second baseman. 

    Prediction: Boom for both

Acquisitions: Marc Rzepczynski to Cleveland, Scott Downs to Atlanta

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    We lumped these two together since they serve the same basic function for their new teams, even though they have nothing to do with each other as far as trades go. Downs was acquired by the Braves from Los Angeles; Rzepczynski went to Cleveland from St. Louis. 

    Both players cost their respective teams virtually nothing in prospects or money. Downs was making $5 million this season before hitting free agency; Rzepczynski is making just over $1 million and is under control for two more years. 

    Downs and Rzepczynski are left-handed specialists who probably won't face more than one hitter at a time when they get in games. They are there to give Fredi Gonzalez and Terry Francona options to choose from in a close game, nothing more. 

    It is hard for those kinds of pitchers to make a substantial impact on games, but because they are both so good at their roles it is easy to suggest that they will provide the kind of boom their new teams hope for. 

    Prediction: Boom

Acquisition: Alfonso Soriano to New York

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    Despite Brian Cashman's reported lack of desire to acquire Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees did what they felt necessary to upgrade what has been a pathetic offense for the rest of this season and next year by bringing the outfielder back for a second tour of New York. 

    The actual level of boom or bust you believe Soriano has depends on what you are comparing him to. If we hold Soriano to the standard of a normal corner outfielder, then a .256/.287/.487 line isn't going to cut it. 

    However, if we compare Soriano to Yankee left fielders this season (.227/.269/.337), suddenly he doesn't look that bad. The Yankees will still be paying Soriano roughly $7 million through next season, which is a lot of money for a player who only gets on base at a 29 percent clip. 

    The temptation will be to give Soriano a boom label because he is far better than anyone else the Yankees have played in that spot. But looking at things in the bigger picture, he is a Band-Aid on a broken leg. 

    Prediction: Bust

Acquisition: Mike Olt and 6 Players to Chicago

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    The Cubs were the busiest team in the month of July trading six players (Scott Feldman, Steve Clevenger, Scott Hairston, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano) in exchange for nine players, including six prospects. 

    The big name coming back to Chicago was Mike Olt, who didn't have a spot in Texas with Adrian Beltre at third base. He is still working his way back from eye problems, though that seems to be behind him now. 

    Olt has been on the radar for years as a plus defensive third baseman with big power. He also strikes out a lot thanks to a big swing, but he has enough bat control and plate coverage to hit .250-.260 with a lot of walks. 

    The other key piece sent back to the Cubs was C.J. Edwards, who was also acquired from Texas. He has a live arm with a plus fastball and has destroyed the lower levels of the minors with 215 strikeouts and no homers allowed in 165.1 innings. 

    Edwards has a slight frame at 155 pounds that leads to serious doubts about whether he has the durability to be a starter in the future, which hurts his value. They are also getting a player to be named from the Rangers, which will likely depend on if the player the Cubs want makes it through the season healthy. 

    No one else they got really stands out. Justin Grimm is a guy who throws strikes and can pitch in the back of a big league rotation. Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta are two pitchers with great arms who have had major control issues throughout their careers. Corey Black has walked 60 in 135.1 career innings in the minors. 

    Granted, aside from Garza, the pieces the Cubs traded weren't going to net a huge return. As long as Olt and one of the pitchers (Edwards and a player to be named) turns into a big leaguer, that has to be considered a win. 

    Prediction: Olt, Boom; Grimm, Edwards, Strop, Black and Arrieta, Bust

Acquisition: Justin Maxwell to Kansas City

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    One year after leading Houston in home runs, Justin Maxwell was shipped to Kansas City for a low-level minor league pitcher. While not exactly a marquee move for the surging Royals, it does serve a purpose. 

    Maxwell is best served in a platoon role thanks to his .255/.373/.455 line against left-handed pitching in his career. (He hits just .203/.271/.396 against righties.) He can start against southpaws, with David Lough starting against right-handers. 

    Granted, Maxwell serves the same basic function for the Royals that Jeff Francoeur did before the team released him, so the impact is negligible. But at least they won't have to pay Maxwell nearly as much money, and they have control over him through 2016. 

    Prediction: Boom (as much as a platoon player can)

Acquisition: Jesse Crain to Tampa Bay

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    Never one to shy away from a potential bargain, the Rays took advantage of the White Sox's desire to start selling off players by grabbing injured reliever Jesse Crain for...something that we won't know about until the end of the season depending on how much/well Crain pitches for the Rays. 

    For the record, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the White Sox will be able to choose from a pool of players "at a later date."

    Under those circumstances, this really was a no-lose situation for the Rays. If Crain comes back and pitches at the level he was before going on the DL (0.74 ERA, 46-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 36.2 innings), it gives Joe Maddon more pitching options to choose from because he doesn't have enough. 

    However, considering that no one seems to know when Crain will pitch again, it is impossible to say that he will be anything more than a bust at this point. 

    Prediction: Bust

Acquisitions: L.J. Hoes and 5 Others to Houston

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    Other than the Cubs, no team was more ready to sell at the deadline than the Astros. The return for Bud Norris wasn't exactly what anyone expected, though that speaks more to how he is viewed around the league than anything else. 

    L.J. Hoes is a prospect with some skills but not enough to profile as an everyday player. He is limited to left field, which puts a ton of pressure on his bat. He has a good swing and approach with virtually no power at all, making him a liability as a corner outfielder. 

    Josh Hader has a live arm as a 19-year-old in Low-A, but he has also walked 42 in 85 innings this season. At best, he turns into a reliever down the road.

    Kyle Smith, acquired in the Justin Maxwell trade, has a good feel for pitching, a solid arsenal and a delivery that will work as a starter. But he is short for a right-hander at 6'0", and the fastball is straight enough to drive out. 

    The Astros also got Danry Vasquez from Detroit in the Jose Veras trade. He is just 19 in Low-A and still needs to add bulk to his frame to tap into above-average raw power, but the approach is good and he can play right field. As long as the power develops, he could be a solid big leaguer. 

    (Two other players include a player to be named and a draft pick.)

    Prediction: Vasquez, Boom; Hoes, Bust; Smith and Hader, Boom (as relievers)

Acquisition: Nick Delmonico to Milwaukee

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    While not exactly a game-changing move for the Brewers, acquiring Delmonico does at least give them a player with the ceiling of an average big leaguer. They desperately needed a player like that, and only had to give up Francisco Rodriguez to get it done. 

    Delmonico is a solid offensive player with some power, a good approach and discipline. He doesn't have one standout tool, limiting his ceiling, but at least he does enough to see a future in the majors. 

    The problem comes when you watch him on defense. He has enough arm strength to play third base but has always been erratic throwing the ball thanks to poor footwork and positioning. He already has 15 errors this season. 

    If Delmonico can't stay at third, his value lowers substantially since the only other spot available would be first base or DH where the bat doesn't profile. He is just 20 in High-A, so I will give him some benefit of the doubt. 

    Prediction: Boom