The way it’s worked out, the Reds’ Mat Latos and the Padres’ Edinson Volquez have made their starts on the same day five straight times now, making it hard not to compare the two. It’s a comparison Volquez is winning hands down.
Volquez limited the Diamondbacks to two runs and four hits in six innings Saturday, while Latos was tagged for seven runs — four earned — in 3 1/3 innings by the Astros. It left Volquez with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 12 starts and Latos with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 11 starts.
Of course, ERA doesn’t tell the whole story here. Volquez is pitching half of his games in Petco Park, while Latos has the misfortune of working at Great American. Still, the home park isn’t Latos’ problem so far. Latos has a 4.10 ERA in six starts at home and a 6.12 ERA in five away starts. Volquez has a 3.17 ERA in eight home starts and a 3.97 ERA in four road outings.
Of the two, I’d still take Latos for the rest of the season. Volquez continues to have issues with walks and hasn’t been working deep into games. Latos’ road struggles seem like a fluke, given that he has allowed just two homers away from Great American.
Still, the Reds gave up an awful lot of talent to get the supposed upgrade from Volquez to Latos, parting with first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger in the trade. It won’t necessarily doom their chances in the NL Central — they didn’t really have room for Alonso or Grandal this year anyway — but it would be a bitter pill to swallow if Volquez remains the superior pitcher the whole year through.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.