When the Twins traded Denard Span last week the assumption was that they did so in part because Ben Revere was ready to step in as their new center fielder and leadoff man, but now they’ve traded Revere to the Phillies.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com broke the news and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says the Twins are getting right-hander Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May in return.
Minnesota has an incredible lack of quality pitching throughout the organization and one area where the Twins have good depth is the outfield, where former first-round pick Aaron Hicks could be ready to become the starting center fielder at some point in 2013. Revere is very fast and very good defensively, but he has zero power and a fairly limited overall upside, so if the Twins feel Hicks will be ready soon anyway it makes some sense.
Revere has tremendous range in center field that more than makes up for perhaps the worst arm in baseball and he’s capable of swiping 50 bases at a good clip, but he may never hit an over-the-fence homer and through age 24 he’s hit .278 with a .319 on-base percentage and .323 slugging percentage. For years he’s been compared to Juan Pierre, for better or worse.
Worley missed the final month of the season with an elbow injury that required minor surgery, but when healthy the 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.50 ERA in 278 career innings with a solid strikeout rate of 7.7 per nine frames. Long term Worley is a mid-rotation guy, but on the Twins right now he immediately becomes their best starter. Barring more trades, of course.
May is a 22-year-old former fourth-round pick who spent this year at Double-A, posting a 4.87 ERA while racking up 151 strikeouts in 149 innings. He has control issues, but May was a top-100 prospect coming into the season and has 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings for his pro career. Minnesota wanted young pitching and they definitely got it.
(Note: I also wrote a much lengthier, Twins-centric analysis of the Revere trade.)
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.